Ok people, if you’ve ever traveled to Suffolk or Norfolk, you have inevitably faced the awkward situation of how to pronounce geographic names ending with folk. And, no, you don’t pronounce it like “folk” as in old folks. Instead, you have to pronounce such name-endings like the f-word with a bit of finesse. Sorry, but that’s the reality, and the sooner you accept it the sooner you’ll be able to comfortably walk the streets of Norfolk or Suffolk without sounding like an outsider. So, how do you say Suffolk?
The correct way to say Suffolk
According to the American Pronunciation guide, the proper way to say Suffolk is: Suh-fuhk. Please take note that the emphasis is on the first syllable. Placing the emphasis on the last syllable will probably result in cold stares at best and a sucker punch at worst.
The correct way to say Norfolk
Similar in pronunciation style to Suffolk, the proper way to say Norfolk is: NOR-fuuk. There is a slight styling difference in the last syllable. Think of it like you’re saying NOR-foot, but instead say NOR-fuuk. Again, please ease off the second syllable.
Why the folk?
You may be wondering why in the world do such geographic names exist that sound like you’re dropping the F-bomb. Well, according to the history books, and some easy Googling on my smartphone, early Anglo Saxon towns were named after the village founder so it what clear which tribe each village belonged to. For some reason, these villages often had the letters “folk” at the end, and communicated the “people of so-so” or the “folk of so-and-so.”
It takes some getting used to, but as they say, “When in Rome . . .” Like a zit on the face, the more you worry about it the more likely people will notice it. The more you worry about people noticing your pronunciation of Norfolk or Suffolk, the more they probably will. Practice, but don’t practice too much. Just get lost in the local culture and it will naturally grow on you. You’ll start sounding like a local in no time.