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Irish Mirror
Irish Mirror
Sophie Collins

Language expert reveals most commonly mispronounced places after Ekin-Su's Limerick blunder

Love Island’s Ekin-Su was the butt of a joke this week online after she mispronounced County Limerick.

The Turkish beauty had taken to her Instagram to announce where she would be visiting on her press tour with bperfect cosmetics when she made the blunder.

The 28-year-old fumbled over the pronunciation of Limerick, pronouncing it LIME-rick instead of Lim-er-ick.

READ MORE: Love Island star Ekin Su struggles with pronunciation of Limerick ahead of Irish visit

This sparked debate online over the pronunciation of other places across the globe, and so a language expert has cleared up some of the most common mistakes.

Whether you’re travelling or talking about different places and cultures around the world, there’s bound to be somewhere you don’t quite know how to pronounce.

Amy Pritchett, a languages expert at Preply, has explained why it’s so easy for people to pronounce places incorrectly, as well as providing some locations that are commonly mispronounced, and how to say them correctly.

"One of the main reasons why people commonly mispronounce different places around the world is due to the differences in language and pronunciation between different regions and cultures," she said.

"Pronunciation is a complex part of language that is influenced by a variety of factors. These include geography, social context, and linguistic patterns. For example, a person who speaks English as their first language may struggle to pronounce certain words in other languages.

"A person unfamiliar with the native language of a particular region may find it difficult to accurately pronounce place names based on written spellings alone, as some languages use different alphabets or spelling conventions than others.

"There's nothing more embarrassing than arriving at a new holiday destination and mispronouncing its name in front of a local - especially if you butcher the regional accent.

"So, we've researched the most commonly mispronounced places to avoid that awkward encounter, so you never have to worry about these tongue twisters again.

"When you learn to say these place names correctly, I encourage you to sound like a native - or at least a savvy tourist."

Commonly mispronounced places

Cannes, France

  • Correct pronunciation: KAN or KAN-uh
  • Incorrect pronunciation: CON or CONZ or CON-es

To sound even more native, add the French “-uh” at the end of “Kan” (Kan-uh).

River Thames, London, England

  • Correct pronunciation: TEMZ
  • Incorrect pronunciation: THAYMZ

Historians believe that King George I of Great Britain, who was the first to rule from a royal house of German origin, was unable to make the “th” sound in “Thames” and instead pronounced it as “Temmes.” No one was willing to correct the king, so it has been called the River “Temz” ever since.

Yosemite National Park, USA

  • Correct pronunciation: yoh-SEH-muh-dee or yoh-SEH-muh-tee
  • Incorrect pronunciation: YOH-se-might

Start with “yoh,” like yo-yo. Then put the stress on “seh” as if you’re beginning the word “set.” Finally, end with “muh” from “mother” and then “tee” from “teeth.” When you put it all together, you get “yoh-SEH-muh-tee.”

Louvre Museum, Paris, France

  • Correct pronunciation: LOO-vruh
  • Incorrect pronunciation: LOOV or LOO-vray or LOO-ver

In the English language, there aren’t many words with the letter combination “vre” in them. This is likely why many speakers aren’t sure how to linguistically approach a name such as “Louvre.”

Versailles, France

  • Correct pronunciation: vair-SIGH
  • Incorrect pronunciation: ver-SALES or ver-SAY-les

Much like the pronunciation of Cannes, French speakers take an axe to the “es” in Versailles. But they don’t stop there, the double “L”s at the end aren’t pronounced either.

Ibiza, Spain

  • Correct pronunciation: ee-BEE-tha
  • Incorrect pronunciation: ih-BEE-za or eye-BEE-tha

As a popular tourist destination known for its vibrant nightlife, Ibiza has welcomed visitors from around the world, and they all have their own ways of pronouncing this Spanish island.

Dubai, UAE

  • Correct pronunciation: doo-BAY
  • Incorrect pronunciation: doo-BYE

If you looked at this one with utter disbelief, don’t worry. It’s widely accepted that the English speaker’s version of Dubai is pronounced “doo-bye”, but if you want to get technical, the classic Arabic version of Dubai replaces the “bye” sound with “bay”.

Maldives, Indonesia

  • Correct pronunciation: MULL-deevz
  • Incorrect pronunciation: mal-DIVES or MAL-deevz

Yes, you can go diving in the clear blue waters of the Maldives, but you should not pronounce this south Asian country as the “mal-DIVES.”

Seoul, South Korea

  • Correct pronunciation: SUH-ool or SOLE
  • Incorrect pronunciation: SEE-ole or see-ULE

One of the most accepted ways for English speakers to pronounce the capital of South Korea, Seoul, is “SOLE” (like the bottom of your shoe). However, a more accurate pronunciation to South Koreans is achieved through two distinct syllables that are clearly separated: “SUH-ool.”

Worcester, England

  • Correct pronunciation: WUSS-tuh or WUSS-ter
  • Incorrect pronunciation: WAR-chest-er or WAR-cess-ter

Although it would phonetically make sense to break this word down as “WAR-chest-er” or “WAR-cess-ter,” British speakers have decidedly done away with the “rce” portion of the name. Moreover, they drop the final “R” at the end.


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