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How do we pronounce Houghton?

Do we pronounce it almost as huff-ton?
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I would think more like 'Haw-ton'
Stressed HOAT (rhymes with boat) with unreleased t, followed by unstressed N (syllabic N). (AmE)

(It's a town not far from where I was born.)

CJ
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We would pronounce it as "hawton" (haw as in saw), but I have a friend here and she has this name and it is pronounced Howton (how/now/cow). So either is correct.
Its my surname and I pronounce it - How ton. I have many different variations though. My father told me that if you are from down south you pronounce it Howton and up north its more likely to be pronounced Haw ton. Hope this helps.
It's my last name too and we pronounce it Hoe-ton. I am from South Carolina, but my dad's family is mostly from Maryland and New York...interesting...
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It is my middle name and one of my family surnames. I think the pronunciation is somewhat regionally and family-line dependent. Our Houghton family has been in the area of Monterey, California since the late 1880s, and here we have always pronounce it here as "How tun" (as in "now," and the other one rhymes with "fun.") Both "Hoe-ton" and "Haw-ton" sound to me like plausible regional and personal family variations of that. Even a form of "Hue-ton" (rhymes with "hue," chuckle) sounds reasonable, as we see in the similar historical name of Sam "Houston," Texas.

The name is of English origin, and as such it is helpful to view other, long-standing English pronunciation of similar common words. Probably the most commonly used historical example from the King-James-Biblical and Shakespearian era would be the pronunciation of the archaic word "thou." That has preserved its traditional "now" sound even when used today. Also, other words such as "enough" even up into the 1800s were pronounced as "e-now." So I think a fair case could be made for the historical precedence of pronouncing the name Houghton as "How-ton" accordingly.

As with the word "enough" having changed in fairly modern times, though, I think I would consider it too far-fetched to accept "Huff-ton" as an acceptable variation of that. Family names tend to hold their family pronunciations by family tradition longer than do more impersonal words. So I would would argue for "How-ton" as being the more traditional form, with "Hoe-ton," "Haw-ton" and "Hue-ton" as being regional or family variants of that, but "Huff-ton" as being more of a slang pronunciation imposed on the name in more modern times by uninformed outsiders who were not from among the original Houghton families.
Great stuff, SLOphoto1. Sounds like you are in San Luis Obispo. How English names are pronounced tell more about the great vowel shift of Middle English long vowels. Since names are not heavily used words like other function and content words from the dictionary, these names have various pronunciations.

For instance, the vowel digraph < ei > has three phonetic outputs: height; receive; weigh. Similarly, the vowel digraphs < ou > , < ow > have three outputs.

1. Recent one (post-great vowel shift) /aʊ/: Houston st, Manhattan, now, oust, joust, route (AmE)
2. /u/: coup, soup, through, Gould, route (BrE)
3. /oʊ/: though, dough, borrow, sorrow, borough, know, Houghton (from CJ's post)

< ou > before labials (p, b, m) ends up being /u/. < mb > is a different beast, as it falls under OldEng homorganic lengthening.

Using u and w in digraphs: if it ends a word, use w (sorrow, now); otherwise u (coup, nous).

All three pronunciations are related, if you look at the vowel chart and the great vowel shift. 3 is older than 2, which is older than 2. When it comes to non-names, your dialect dictates it. When it comes to names, it can be any of three; some families may have older pronunciations.

There is another thread discussing about Keane, how it is pronounced in Irish English.

English is not an irregular language as sold to L2 students and by EFL teachers. Just because it does not fit in one system, it does not mean it is irregular. English is a product of multiple systems; hence, regular. This is similar to Newton's 3 laws of motion: different laws apply in different conditions.
raindoctorUsing u and w in digraphs: if it ends a word, use w (sorrow, now); otherwise u (coup, nous).
I would modify this a little, though there are exceptions.

If it ends a word or if it is followed by final l or n, use w (now, howl, crown); otherwise, use u (soup).

CJ
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