Asa has died today aged 94. He was a friend of my Dad's (Still with us), and they used to swap stamps. Asa's parents had a greengrocers on Bradford Rd somewhere near the end of Emily Street. ....http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/uk-35813749
Did anyone hear Asa Briggs: The Last Victorian Improver (7 Jan 1917 Radio 4, Archive on 4) - a 58 minute appreciation of the historian: KBGS, Cambridge, Bletchley Park, Oxford, biographer of BBC, Vice-Chancellor Sussex, Chancellor Open University etc.
Many interesting recordings of interviews with the man himself. You can hear it again on iPlayerRadio.
But one rather trivial thing about the programme jarred - everyone called him "Azer" whereas I always think of him as "Acer".
Is this a South/North thing, or a class thing? Or have I just got it wrong?
All his contemporaneous neighbours in Bfd/Emily Street refered to him as "Acer" - which has just got me thinking about my spinster neighbour. My address one time was "Acer" - but that was as near as I got to being "another Asa".
You may be interested in the following which I have just received from my brother Howard:
In a chapter in his book 'Special Relationships', published in 2012, entitled 'What's in a Name', Asa comments about both of his own names.
As regards Asa he writes:
'There are two ways of pronouncing the 's', as an 's' and as a 'z'; my mother and father always used the 's'. I began to be called Asa , pronounced both ways, not Briggs, during the 1930s when first names were not in general use ........... The French always pronounced it with a short sharp A. How can three letters sound so different?'
Well, all I know - and I was a quite close friend of his at KBGS, and a regular visitor to 87 Emily Street - was that he was always called Asa with the hard 's' by his mother and his sister Emmy at home, and by absolutely everyone at school. I had never heard the soft 's' used by anyone - and that includes all the folk from all over the country who used to attend the Bronte Society meetings when he was President twenty to twenty five years ago - until this recent radio programme.
Thanks Brian, Terry and David. Great to read that he discussed the pronunciation himself. That his mum and dad used 'acer' is pretty definitive. Just one little doubt remains: in the programme Asa himself mentions his own name and to my ear it was more of a zed than an ess. It was, however, in reported speech, and may have simply been a very accurate report of what the person using it said rather than an endorsement of the pronunciation.