PHOTO: Also known as ‘Pran’ this little ‘burb has more history than first meets the eye. Photo: Greg Briggs

We’re a lazy lot, us Melburnians, when it comes to pronouncing suburb names. This column recently tackled the vexed question of Reservoir (no more correspondence will be entered into), and while the name of this week’s subject is equally mangled, we seem to have achieved consensus.

It’s a fact universally acknowledged that Prahran in the local vernacular is “Pran”, a linguistic twitch codified by the Pran Central Shopping Centre, which rose from the refurbishment of the former Read’s building in 1999.

Many a worker’s cottage has been renovated to become inner-city suburban cool. Photo: Greg Briggs

But then, Prahran itself is something of a neologism. The website Victorian Places says the name evolved from the Aboriginal word “purraran”, which translates as “almost surrounded by water” (it relates to the proximity of the Yarra River and the swamp where Albert Park Lake now lies).

As for the translation of Purraran to Prahran, that grid-loving government surveyor, Robert Hoddle, made it official in 1840.

A good feed is not hard to find with spots like L’Hotel Gitan. Photo: Greg Briggs

As well as Read’s-slash-Pran Central, Prahran was Melbourne’s epicentre of grand, old-fashioned shopping emporiums, with early 1900s chain stores such as Foy & Gibson, Maples, Treadways and London Stores opening along Chapel Street during its first heyday.