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Pronunciation (Anti-Antimoon) – The English-American War: The Comment Front

What's weird is British people make fun of Americans for not knowing random obscure place-names that have only a passing resemblance to their spelling, yet a lot of them don't even pronounce major American place-names correctly, even when the pronunciation follows from the spelling. For instance, the last vowel in LA is "e", not "i". They don't even get the country name right: it's "America", not "Americur".

We all pronounce Louisiana correct, you just don’t think we do. Does our severely incorrect stereotype precede us? ‘Luhw-eee-zeee-ahn-nah’. The same goes for America. We say it ‘Ah-meh-rih-cah’, not ‘Ah-meh-rih-cuhr’ as you seem to think, you may hear it differently as our accent is more developed (what with a millennia more history and all that).

<<What's weird is British people make fun of Americans for not knowing random obscure place-names that have only a passing resemblance to their spelling, yet a lot of them don't even pronounce major American place-names correctly, even when the pronunciation follows from the spelling. For instance, the last vowel in LA is "e", not "i". They don't even get the country name right: it's "America", not "Americur".>> 

Yeah, it's pretty annoying to hear "Los Angeleez" and "Laas Vegas". 

I think it's very unfair of the Brits to make fun of an American mispronouncing the name of some obscure village when it is spelled nothing like how it's pronounced. In this area (western PA), we could laugh at a Brit's failure to properly pronounce such names as Youghiogheny, Monongahela, Charleroi (not French), Versailles (not French), Wilkes-Barre, Schuylkill, etc, but that would make us a bunch of assholes. ;)

Los Angeles. Now, it also depends on your dialect, here! Americans pronounce it differently, too, if all you ignorant Yanks haven’t noticed! Some say ‘Lohs Ahn-jehl-eehs’, (like the end is ‘Elise’) others ‘Lohs Ahn-jehl-ihss’ and others ‘Lohs Ahn-jehl-eeez’. Us Brits will also go for a variety of these, most use the middle one (‘Lohs Ahn-jehl-ihss’) as it has a nice short, hard vowel sound at the end. Now, let’s tackle commenter’s choices of American places, shall we? I’m always good at coming up with an immediate pronunciation for some reason, so here goes. Youghiogheny – ‘Yoh-goh-gay-neee’. Monongahela – ‘Mah-nohn-gah-hell-ah’. If not French then the following two are: Charleroi – ‘Shaw-leh-roy’ and Versailles – ‘Vehr-sayhls’. Wilkes-Barre – ‘Whillckss-Behr’ or ‘Whillckss-Beh-ree’. Schuylkill – ‘Skooh-khill’ or ‘Skoohl-khill’. Remember, not stupid.

We can torment them with doozies like Schenectady, Skaneateles, Natchitoches, Nacogdoches, La Union (no, not like that....;P), Mesilla, Bernalillo, Ticonderoga, Mattawamkeag, Tesuque, Pojoaque, Chautauqua, Quemado, Uncompaghre, Atmautluak, make 'em get the accent on the right syllables in Yakima and Wichita and Tucumcari and Appomattox.....oh, it's sooooo on!

Oh-kay, I don’t have enough hours in the night to give my first guess at a pronunciation for every place in Pennsylvania, Washington and Wisconsin  (why are Yakima ‘Yahck-ih-mah’ and Wichita ‘Wihtch-ih-tah’ up there?) I’d be happy to but I have to fix this up real quick like.

Not only Americans have a hard time pronouncing those weird place names like Worchester and Leominster. I mean...weird as in having an irregular pronunciation. Edith Bowman, a Scottish radio DJ also couldn't pronounce Bicester as it should be pronounced (she said "by-cester" instead of "bister"). The English fellow presnters kept laughing at her for a while.

That was probably funny. I highly expect she hadn’t come across it before as she’s Scots! Though, I don’t know why/how. Maybe because it didn’t appear as if it would be obscure like Worcester or Leicester – even if you remove the ‘ce’ from them, they still aren’t pronounced how spelt.

Liz....some Scottish broadcasters DO have problems with some of the English place names - I've heard them hash up names south of the border now and again. A place with a name like Bicester just invites a mispronunciation though doesn't it? .... just like their English counterparts do with many of our Scottish names, especially if they are not so familiar with them...naturally lack of familiarity does breed ignorance, so it's understandable when people make dogs' dinners out of them. 

I would have thought that the familiar "-cester" endings in names like Gloucester, Worcester and Leicester would have given a wee bit of a clue as to how the name Bicester should be pronounced, but as I've said before - nothing in the UK is set in stone is it? 

Much of what we do and say isn't quite what it seems to be on the surface - an example of this is our dry sense of humour and skill in the art of piss-taking which all too ofen can be misconstrued and a cause of some offence by people at the sharp end of it. The British scene, like our English Language, is beset with irregularities, and having Cirencester pronounced, correctly, as "SIREN-sester" doesn't do much to encourage people to think otherwise. 

Did you know that Bicester (located a few miles north east of the city of Oxford and with a population of only 30,000) has six Tesco stores scattered about the town...one superstore on the outskirts, and five Metro and Express stores across the rest of the place. Local people refer to Bicester as Tescotown.

Whooo! Intelligent Brit!

"Worchester" in the US is pronounced "Wooster". How do you guys pronounce it in the UK?
and the sauce, suprise surprise, is pronounced "Woostersher " in America. Do you guys in the UK pronounce it differently? You always say you have different pronunciations for these town names.

Instead of myself ranting on at this King of the idiots (so far), I’ll let that clever Brit from before take a shot at it:

***Worcestershire….Do you guys in the UK pronounce it differently?***

It depends on which side of the Anglo/Scottish border you are in the UK when it comes to pronunciation of the name of this fair English county (and the sauce to which it gave its name).

We Scots tend to say “WOOSTURR-shy-urr” while the English themselves say “WOOS-tuh-shuh”.

Do Americans use Worcestershire sauce in any big way? That surprises me somehow but I’m not sure why.

Hmm, one mistake, there. A variety of ways are used to pronounce it: both you mentioned are used in England but, yes, I think the latter is more common because English is a softer accent that Scottish. Please, continue (so they go on…)

Worcestershire sauce is nice sprinkled on the top of a Welsh rarebit -or a Welsh rabbit as some people mistakenly call it.

Oh, okay. Here, lets have another Brit correct you:

It’s the other way around:

“The term Welsh rarebit was evidently a later corruption of Welsh rabbit, being first recorded in 1785 by Francis Grose, according to the Oxford English Dictionary. The entry in Merriam-Webster’s Dictionary of English Usage is “Welsh rabbit, Welsh rarebit” and states: “When Francis Grose defined Welsh rabbit in A Classical Dictionary of the Vulgar Tongue in 1785, he mistakenly indicated that rabbit was a corruption of rarebit….

In his 1926 edition of the Dictionary of Modern English Usage, the grammarian H. W. Fowler states a forthright view: “Welsh Rabbit is amusing and right. Welsh Rarebit is stupid and wrong. ”


I’ll stick to cheese on toast.

Okay, this lot are having a discussion of their own:

[That intelligent Brit] do you live near Saw-chee-hall?

Somebody left a note for me to arrange a service engineer to visit the “M&S in Sauchiehall St, Edinburgh”. My Scottish boss laughed his head off when I read out (aloud) “So-chee-hall Street”. Realising I may be mispronuncing it I tried “Saw-chee-hall?” but that just made him laugh even louder. After I made several more failed attempts my boss was laughing so much he was almost crying with laughter. He deliberately made me phone our Scottish Service Engineer (who kept asking “where?” to me) before letting me know I was getting it wrong. In my defence I’ve never been to Edinburgh or Sauchiehall.

I got my own back with “Trottiscliffe”.

Fair enough. 

I have an American lecturer who teaches Molecular Biology and she absolutely creases me up with some of her pronunciations. Today she pronounced "Fungi" as "FUN-JI" (OR FUN-JUY - the juy part sounding like guy but with a J instead of a G). 

Generally, here in England, the pronunciation would be "FUN-GE (the 'ge' part sounding like key but with a G instead of a K). 

The poor lady did get a few laughs out of that one bless her. 

When Americans say "Momentarily" confuses me as in "the plane will be landing momentarily". When I heard that I got worried! 

Of-course, I could certainly see how the Americans would find some of our pronunciations funny as well. Such as "clerk" being said as "clarke" or "mall" as "male". These two examples are rapidly diminishing mind, but I bet a fair few yanks have shaken their heads at those!

Since when was ‘Mall‘ pronounced ‘Mayhl’ (with a long ‘a’ sound)? It’s always been ‘Mah-l’ (with a short ‘a’ sound) to me (as in Pall Mall – ‘Pal Mal’ rhyming).

Okay, there are FAR TOO MANY comments on this one — I may come back to some more later. Read them if you like.



2 thoughts on “Pronunciation (Anti-Antimoon) – The English-American War: The Comment Front

  1. Oh, at the end again: some (most as it’s correct) will say ‘fungi’ as fun-guy, like “oh, he’s a fun guy”. Though fun-ghee is acceptable. It’s better than the Yanks.

    Posted by endperson1997 | 21-05-2013, 2137


  1. Pingback: Let’s get the pronunciation and use of English thing out of the way, shall we? | This one I am - 06-07-2014

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