Making its debut this week is The Greenwich Podcast – it’s worth a listen and the feedback to it‘s been pretty good. It’s made by a Blackheath-based production house, Testbed, who do a lot of work for Radio 4, which explains why it sounds very, very polished. I particularly liked the piece about the guerilla gardeners – I hope the team behind it will find more stories like that in SE10 and the surrounding areas.
One thing did strike me as a little bit weird though – and I think it might be my fault. When the podcast announced itself last week, I had a listen to the trailer and joked on Twitter about them pronouncing the name of the place “Gren-itch”, as opposed to the local pronunciation of “Grin-ige”. A week later, the podcast features an exchange with comedian Tim Key about the pronounciation issue, with presenter Alex Mitchell saying that the latter camp get snobby about people calling it “Gren-itch”.
Which struck me as getting it the wrong way round – the pronunciation simply alerts the listener to the origins of the speaker. “Grin-ige” usually alerts you to a native south-east Londoner, “Gren-itch” indicates they may not be. If anything, it’s inverted snobbery, since “Gren-itch” has always been, to my ears, the “posh” pronounciation for the place. Anyway, don’t ask me, ask the 126 denziens of this Facebook group…
I once checked it with BBC pronunciation and “Grin-idge” was the preferred option. My Collins dictionary gives both, with the local version first. There’s no right way or wrong way – it’s not like the episode of EastEnders where Pauline Fowler talked about “Play-stow“.
I’d be interested to hear how the two versions developed, though. I get the feeling that with gentrification, and the influence of people referring to Greenwich Village in New York – or Greenwich, Connecticut – the local version might be dying out. Like the Welsh speakers of Patagonia, some day in the future, in a place in Kent, people will wonder what that “Grin-idge” place a few elderly die-hards speak of.