22 May 2009

Words that are just about impossible to pronounce properly if you've only ever seen them written, never heard them

  • demesne
  • gorgeous
  • slough
  • synecdoche (and even worse synecdochical)
  • colonel
  • mayor
  • clerk
  • melancholy
  • naive
  • hyperbole
  • diaspora
  • Worcestershire
  • Melbourne (apparently... if you are USian. Think Melb'n or, if you must, Melburn.)

Any others?


Anonymous said...

All Irish personal names :)

A latte beckons said...


Anonymous said...


Anonymous said...


Anonymous said...

As a younger hereandnow, I had terrible and embarrassing trouble with:

gunwales (as in 'loaded to the')

The Alien Onions said...

Anonymous 1 - Yes! Irish names. Siobhan - I mean really. Welsh names too - like the exceptionally handsome Ioan Gruffudd. (Otherwise known as Horatio Hornblower.)

Kate - Banal is a good one becuase it's so, well, banal. It looks deceptively as though it would present no problems at all. Same goes for'invalid'- Anonymous 2 - but what a change of meaning!

hereandnow - Oh yes! And we could add coxswain to the list. Boating terms are terrible. (Although they would not present any problems to Horatio Hornblower AKA Ioan Gruffudd AKA 'YO-an Griffith'.)


Anonymous said...

Samuel Pepys.

elise said...

I was tricked by Penelope for years. But surely the winner is Horatio-related... the yacht.

Jon said...

Bearsden and Milngavie (Glaswegian place names: pronunced Beersden and Mulguy respectively)

Penni Russon said...


A latte beckons said...

My dad was born in Cirencester, which the old-timers pronounce "Sizziter."

cc said...

Two that I have encountered in the last week.

Antigone and the WA town of - Canarvon.

Anonymous said...


Anonymous said...

I guess... Tomb, vehicle, yacht, diaphragm, facsimile. Trust me, I'm a foreigner, I know.

Anonymous said...

All of the above words are very easy to pronounce for English natives speakers. If you can´t pronounce them then you´re not very bright. Non-native speakers are excused, of course! Some names are excusable, just about. The surname Ruthven for example, should be pronounced ´Rivven´, and Mainwaring should be pronounced ´Manering´as in Dad´s Army.