Three-quarters of Britons are saying it wrong - the top ten most common mispronunciations

'You say tomato, I say tomato' - actually, we're fine on that one

James Vincent
Tuesday 11 March 2014 15:58
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Do you know your espresso from expresso? Your prescription from your perscription?

You may know which word is correct when written down but new research has suggested that 82 per cent of British people struggled with the pronunciation of everyday words - including these two.

The study was carried out by the PR people taking care of London’s St Pancras International, who were apparently not too happy about people confusing their railway station with a particularly nondescript organ tucked somewhere between your bile duct and your duodenum (that’s the pan-cree-as for those at the back).

According to the researchers almost thirty three per cent of us confuse these two pronunciations – making ‘St Pancras’ one of the four place names to claim a spot in the top ten most phonetically mangled.

Indeed, place names took the top two spots, with tiny Cambridgeshire cathedral city Ely (it's ee-lee not ee-lie) the most commonly mispronounced followed by West Yorkshire town Keighley (it should be keith-lee, not kay-lee). Click through the gallery for the list in full:

The researchers also found that the only thing as widespread as mispronouncing something was calling people out on it - with 41 per cent of us apparently admitting that we will interrupt a conversation to correct someone else.

These bold prescriptivists (or is it perscriptivists?) are apparently putting the fear of god into the populace, with 23 per cent of those surveyed saying that they will stop a conversation to ask how to pronounce something tricky.

Of course, mispronunciations are as much a part of the development of a language as misspellings and over at the Guardian David Shariamadari points out that many now-accepted pronunciations started off as mistakes.

Examples of this include dropping the 'n' off many words (it used to be 'a napron' but became 'an apron' over time) and simply jumbling up the letters used ('horse' used to be 'hros' while 'bird' was once 'brid'). So, next time some irritating pedant picks you up on your mispronunciation just tell them (very clearly) that you represent the future of the English language. That'll definitely calm them down.

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