How would the author of The Rise of Silas Lapham have pronounced the last name of his title character? Please provide supporting evidence for your answer.
When we look at British place names ending in 'ham', we see the following:
- Allingham is pronounced
When we look at British family names, see see for example the following:
- Gresham :
When we look at American place names, we see a different pattern:
- Waltham is pronounced
When we look at American family names, we find the following examples:
The noun gingham is pronounced
(Source for the phonemic transcriptions: Collins English Dictionary, except where I have included a link to Wikipedia or Merriam Webster.)
One thing that is very consistent is that names consisting of two syllables end on
/əm/; the only exception is Waltham.
So unless William Dean Howells intentionally wanted to diverge from this pattern, the name of the character Lapham was pronounced