Have you been pronouncing these places correctly?

Nov 21, 2016 | Language

Pronunciation is the way words are spoken in a particular language independent of any regional dialect or accent. Correct pronunciation encompasses right intonation & stress on specific letters along with the sound. The way a word is pronounced is not always in line with its spelling and is largely influenced by the etymology or origin of the word- the primary reason that causes people to mispronounce words.

The names of countries and places around the world are largely influenced by their historical, cultural and geographical features. With the globalization of English language and its inability to adequately and appropriately represent the cultural and linguistic nuances of every place, the names of places are often distorted and pronounced differently. However, names are proper nouns and should be pronounced in the manner of its origin. In this article, we look at some of the commonly mispronounced places around the world and the right way of pronouncing them. If you are travelling to any of them, it’s best to learn them to avoid confusion and start off on the right note!

Correct Pronunciation of Commonly Mispronounced Place/ City Names:

Maldives

Correct pronunciation: Mawl-deevs

Source(s):   Cambridge Dictionary, Meriam-Webster Dictionary

The beautiful island country located in the Indian Ocean is an attractive tourist destination. Derived possibly from Tamil or Malayalam, the word “Maldives” is often mispronounced as ‘mal-deevs’. The right pronunciation is actually ‘mawl-deevs’.

Correct Pronunciation of Maldives

Phuket (Thailand)

Correct pronunciation: Poo-ket

Source(s): Wikipedia

Phuket, on the west coast of Thailand, is the country’s largest island. A popular tourist destination, the “ph” in the word often leads it to be mispronounced as ‘foo-ket’ (in the English manner as physics is pronounced ‘fi-sics’). However, it is actually pronounced as ‘Poo-ket’.

Commonly mispronounced places

Edinburgh (Scotland)

Correct pronunciation: Edin-bur’rah

Source(s):   Oxford Dictionary

Edinburgh is the capital of Scotland and the second most popular tourist destination in the UK after London. Famous for its Edinburgh International Festival and Fringe festival (world’s largest arts festival), it is often mispronounced because of its English spelling. The correct pronunciation of Edinburgh is “Edin-bur’rah”, with the bur’rah almost sounding like brah.

Commonly mispronounced places

Cannes (France)

Correct pronunciation: Can

Source(s):   Oxford Dictionary

Cannes, famous for its Cannes Film festival, is located in France. With its picturesque beaches and cafes, it is a highly discussed location but often mispronounced. The correct pronunciation is akin to the English word ‘Can’.

Commonly mispronounced City Names : Cannes

Melbourne (Australia)

Correct pronunciation: Mehl-B’n

Source(s):   Wiktionary

Melbourne is Australia’s second most populous city and the “world’s most liveable city” according to Economist Intelligence Unit (EIU). Named after the former British Prime Minister, Lord Melbourne, the right way to pronounce Melbourne is “Mehl-B’n” with the B’n sounding like bun spoken quickly.

Melbourne Pronunciation

River Thames (United Kingdom)

Correct pronunciation: Tems

Source(s):   Oxford Dictionary

The Thames, best known for flowing through London, is England’s longest river and United Kingdom’s second longest river. While there are several theories for the origin of its name, including Celtic and Sanskrit roots, its spelling often results in mispronunciation of the word. Instead of ‘th’, it is pronounced as a simple ‘t’ and the rest of the word sounds like the word ‘gems’. Hence, the right pronunciation is ‘Tems’.

Correct Pronunciation of Thames River

Leicester (United Kingdom)

Correct pronunciation: Less-ter

Source(s):   Oxford Dictionary

Leicester, whose football club Leicester City F.C. miraculously won the English Premier League last season, is one of the oldest cities in England. The spelling of the place can inadvertently lead you to mispronounce it as ‘Le-ses-ter’. To pronounce Leicester correctly, just remove the ‘ice’ and place an emphasis on ‘s’ to sound as ‘Less-ter’.

Leicester Pronunciation

Budapest (Hungary)

Correct pronunciation: Boo-daa-pesht

Source(s): Wikipedia

Budapest, the capital of Hungary, is one of the most beautiful cities in Europe, attracting more than 4 million tourists a year. However, phonetically, it is not quite the same as its spelling suggests. While most of the English-speaking world pronounces it as ‘Boo-daa-pest’, the actual Hungarian pronunciation is “Boo-daa-pesht”.

Correct Pronunciation of commonly mispronounced city names: Budapest

Rio de Janeiro (Brazil)

Correct pronunciation: Hio-day Jen-ay-roo

Source(s):  Forvo

Rio de Janeiro, the second most populated city in Brazil, is most famous for its giant statue of Christ the Redeemer. A Portuguese expedition encountered the place on January 1, 1502 and mistook the harbor for a river mouth, leading to its name- Rio de Janeiro (literally meaning ‘river of January’). If the name seems tough, its pronunciation is trickier with the first ‘R’ sounding like a ‘H’ and the ending ‘ro’ sounding like ‘roo’. Thus, the right pronunciation of Rio de Janeiro is ‘Hio-day Jen-ay-roo’.

Correct pronunciation of Rio de Janeiro