My mom has brought up another issue with the name Blythe: how is it pronounced? I haven't even considered that it would be pronounced any way except with a voiced TH (as in bathe or breathe or tithe, as opposed to an unvoiced TH as in bath or breath or Ruth). My mom thinks it can be pronounced either way, or that maybe it's correctly unvoiced because the word blithe has an unvoiced TH. But neither of us has ever known a single person named Blythe, so we're not getting anywhere discussing it. (I've also never heard Blythe Danner's name said out loud, or heard people talking about Blythe dolls, or seen an Anne of Green Gables movie with someone saying Gilbert Blythe.)
So let's see if we can figure this out with a poll over to the right. We need extra-long poll options here, as when we tried to figure out the pronunciation of Rowan/Rowen, because some of us actually KNOW a Blythe and some of us have only seen the name in print: I remember reading a book about a Phoebe and thinking it was pronounced "foh-EEB." I know this makes the poll bulky, but I think it's worth it. [Poll closed; see results below.]
[Edited to add: I'm not sure our poll is worth anything, considering the percentage of people who can't hear the difference between a voice and unvoiced TH. I can picture us all totally in agreement and yet voting opposite options!
Try this exercise. Say "this," but say the "th" part for a few seconds before ending in the "iss" part: the "th" kind of buzzes the tongue. Now say "think," and do the same thing: say the "th" part for a few seconds before moving on to the "ink" part. Now it's just breath/hissing, like a whisper. The word "this" has a voiced TH; the word "think" has an unvoiced TH.
Or try it at the end of the word: say "bath," but let the end sound go on for awhile. Now say "bathe," and let the end sound go on for awhile. First no buzzing; then buzzing. Bath is a non-voiced TH; bathe is a voiced TH.
Or try it with breath/breathe. First say "Take a breath," and extend that TH sound. Now say "Just breathe," and extend that TH sound. Different, right? Breath doesn't buzz; breathe does. Breath is the non-voiced TH; breathe is the voiced TH.]
Poll results for "How is the name Blythe pronounced?" (531 votes total):
I know a Blythe; it's like bathe - 75 votes (14%)
I know a Blythe; it's like bath - 85 votes (16%)
I know at least one pronounced each way - 4 votes (1%)
I don't know a Blythe; I thought it was like bathe - 187 votes (35%)
I don't know a Blythe; I thought it was like bath - 180 votes (34%)
The extremely small number of votes for "I know at least one pronounced each way" is possible support for the theory that the poll is thrown off by so many of us not knowing/hearing the difference between the two ways. If the two pronunciations were used about 50-50, as the "I know a Blythe" categories suggest, it seems likely that more people would know one of each---rather than, as in the comments, knowing SEVERAL Blythes, all of whom pronounce it the same way. Or perhaps its regional?
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