Pronunciations that make your skin crawl

The Eck-you-a-dor version mimics the sound I have heard in any number of British movies (or American movies featuring British actors) where no attempt is made to imitate the Spanish pronunciation of place names derived from Spanish. It’s not just a British thing. Many Americans have similar issues with pronouncing foreign language words with some effort to emulate that language’s conventions.

Kew-beck for instance. Tack-oh for another. Rye-oh Grand for yet another.

One I remember initially pronouncing wrong was Arkansas (oh sorry, I meant the other way round! :smack: ). Does anyone know why the s is dropped for Kansas but not for Arkansas? Presumably both names are derived from the same language no?

Don’t you have that backwards? It’s Kan-zess and Ar-kan-saw. I seem to remember reading that the names are from different sources, though. No cite at the tips of my fingers, though.

If you want some real fun with place names, check out Louisiana and Texas! There are some there that defy any phonics you may want to invoke. :smiley:

Yeah, this gets me, too. A war on Terra, after all, would be quite ill-advised.

One example of British pronunciation of Spanish that I have seen on TV:


That bugged me.

And I’ve always said DIE-uh-seez for both the singular and plural. I also think DIE-uh-seez-ez sounds funny.

I’ve even heard it as Nick-a-rag-you-er with that little Boston touch at the end.

I guess hearing Chilly (for the country) doesn’t bother me as much (as compared with Chee-lay or Chee-lee) and there’s a fine line between reasonable approximations of foreign language pronunciations and overblown exaggerations for their own sakes. It’s even comical when somebody will mix-and-match in their efforts to sound authentic with other languages.

One of my pet peeves is when somebody will “skip a step” in the vowel-to-vowel conversion process. By that I mean that where an -i- will go to -e- sound and an -e- will go to an -a- sound somebody will skip the step and go from -i- to -a- in a word like Tequila, saying Tee-kay-la instead of Tee-kee-la. Weak example, but I hope the idea comes across.

Nee-an-der-tall. There’s an h in that word, Mister Voice Over for the Discovery Channel.

Banger. As in “Banger, Maine.” Though some other Bangors are inexplicably pronounced “banger” most people from Maine and nearby say “Bane-gore” so it should be said that way when speaking of that specific town, no?

The only one that I can think of is Aks for ask.

Uh…actually Neanderthal IS pronounced that way. The second part originates from the German word for valley - ‘thal’, which is not pronounced in the same way as the English ‘th’.


Thanks for reminding me, I couldn’t think of any other examples.

I HATE it when I hear Ban-gore.

ARGH! For a couple of reasons- 1, in conversational English, vowels get muddled. It happens, and it sounds odd not to. 2, they put an equal amount of emphasis on BOTH syllables in order NOT to muddle the -or, and that also sounds wrong.

I may be a bit crazy about this because of my last name. Let’s just say it’s German, and it resembles a dirty word in English, and to be more polite or whatever people pronounce it wrong by emphasizing both syllables and pronouncing the -el at the end ell instead of ul.

ARGH! sorry.

Only if you pronounce an obsolete German spelling as if it were an English word. “Tal” means “valley”. In the 19th century when the man was named after the Neander valley, this was spelled “Thal”. At no time was that word pronounced with an English-style “th”. The “h” is just a redundant marker for aspiration, just as in “Luther” or “Goethe”.

I know that in English (and Latin) the old spelling survived and that it is commonly pronounced according to English rules but blaming the speaker for knowing the original pronunciation is a bit harsh.

On preview, what zelie zelerton said.

I recently became aware that in medically related fields it’s common to pronounce centimeter sawntimeter rather than sentimeter. I suppose I could get used to this after a while, but it really bugged me when my doctor said it.

I always pronounced the singular as “DIE-uh-sis” and the plural as “DI-uh-seez.”



i.e. “I left my old man back in or-uh-GAHN…”

I would label that Faux-French and it grates on my ears, and I agree with you on the same grounds as mentioned in the OP. Pseudo-intellectual, at least. Phony, at worst.

I’m not saying any of these variations is wrong. In fact, I prefaced the whole issue by saying the dictionary may even allow these as okay pronunciations. They just irritate me, and that’s all the thread is about. I mean, if something irritates you, it irritates you. Learning why it irritates you may help you adjust to it, but until then the irritation is apt to continue.

I agree that you can sound ridiculous if try to reproduce exactly the authentic pronunciation of a foreign word in the middle of an otherwise English sentence. But there’s no excuse for “lon-zheray” (lingerie). That is obviously the result of thinking “ooh, French word, better throw in some French-sounding vowels”. But they’re completely the wrong vowels.

When I’m listening to the BBC, every once in a while out of nowhere someone will say


It makes me laugh out loud. Those silly Limeys! :slight_smile:

Ga-rahj instead of garage. On-velope instead of envelope.

The long “a” that southern English types use (i.e. “bath” gets transformed into “barth”) really irritates, too.

It does sound faux francais or pseudo intellectual, and while that may be how this pronuciation originated, I know this doctor well enough that that’s not what motivated him to use it. It’s purely a cultural thing – that’s the way a large portion of the medical community pronounce it. Weird, huh?

Mine is Gar-AAH-ge with that elongated second syllable. Ridiculous affectation which annoys me every single time.

And nu-KEW-lar, but that’s been covered above :wink: