There are more than 6,000 languages spoken around the world, with endless dialects and accents. This makes it understandable that we may all mispronounce things from time to time. But, according to WordTips, there are a few places that are a bit more challenging than most. By Stacey Leasca
WordTips’s study on mispronounced words
In June, WordTips, a word game website, shared its study on the most mispronounced words, including the most mispronounced consumer brands, musicians, movie stars, athletes, and for our purposes, cities around the world.
“With 195 countries speaking over 7,000 languages and dialects, there’s bound to be some bemusement when it comes to nailing the correct pronunciation. With some of the most contested and confusing pronunciations resulting from city names,” the company shared in a statement provided to Travel + Leisure. “Cities have some of the hardest names to master, according to our study. With eight of the top ten hardest city names racking up over a million listens, this category eclipsed any other.”
To find the most mispronounced words, WordTips went to the largest pronunciation dictionary in the world, Forvo.com, which uses sound clips offered in several different languages to help people learn the correct pronunciation of words.
To find the most mispronounced city in every country, WordTips searched for cities with populations over 100,000. If no cities matched the criteria for a country, up to 10 most populous cities were selected, depending on availability.
After drawing up a seed list of cities, the team then looked at how many times each place had been listened to in order to learn the correct pronunciation.
And, with 7,000,000 listens on Forvo, the team found that Rio De Janeiro was the most difficult to pronounce city in the world.
Rio De Janeiro takes the ‘top spot’
“Taking the top spot with a whopping seven million listens was Rio de Janeiro (Ree-oh dey zhuh-nair-oh),” the company noted. “As Portuguese is a notoriously tricky language to get right, especially as pronunciation varies throughout the different regions in Brazil, it’s no wonder so many people have needed help along the way.”
The rest of the top ten includes Tokyo with more than four million listens, Chicago and Dublin tied with 1.8 million listens, London and Edinburgh with 1.7 million each, Buenos Aires with 1.5 million, Melbourne with 1.3 million, Medellin with 8,41,000, and Barcelona with 8,05,000.
“Much like learning a language, the trick to mastering the correct pronunciation of city names is to decipher each syllable,” WordTips added as a, well, hot tip. “Sarajevo is a place that catches plenty of English speakers out as the J is said softly ‘sa·ruh·yay·vow’ while Chicago (shuh·kaa·gow) may confuse some non-natives as ‘Ch’ is pronounced as ‘Sh.'”
(This story first appeared on www.travelandleisure.com)