Tuesday, February 04, 2014

197 English Place Names Americans Might Have a Hard Time Pronouncing


Let me begin this post by stating that this article is not a slam against Americans. Indeed, a lot of the places listed below have such wild and mesmerising pronunciations that even an Englishman - one who isn't down with the local lingo - might struggle to say the names correctly. That said, I do get a lot of requests from American readers wanting to know why, for example, Worcester is pronounced WUSSTER and why the second w is not spoken in Warwick. 

This page is a guide you can use to impress the locals, who would no doubt be surprised to hear anyone - much less an American - pronouncing the name of their town or city correctly. Furthermore, you can use it simply just to blow your mind.

I have given the local pronunciation of each word, along with the relevant phonemes, for those who are fluent in phonetics. Note: the bold font indicates where the stress is placed when pronouncing a place name. As you can see, the names are listed in alphabetical order, so as to avoid preferential treatment.   

1. Aigburth – (Pronounced EGG-BERTH /ˈɛɡbərθ/)
2. Aldeburgh – (Pronounced ALL-BR'A /ˈɔːlbrə/)
3. Alnwick – (Pronounced ANNICK /ˈænɪk/)
4. Althorp – (Pronounced ALLTREP /ˈɔːltrəp/)
5. Altrincham – (Pronounced ALL-TRING-EM /ˈɔːltrɪŋəm/)
6. Alresford – (Pronounced OLSS-FUD or ALLS-FUD /ɒlsfʉd/ or /ɔːlsfʉd/)
7. Alverdiscott – (Pronounced OLSS-KOT or ALLS-KOT /ɒlskɒt/ or /ɔːlskɒt/)
8. Aslackby – (Pronounced AYZEL-BEE /ˈeɪzəlbi/)
9. Averham – (Pronounced AYA-R'M /ˈɛərəm/)
10. Aveton Gifford – (Pronounced AW-TON D'ZHIFFERD /ˈɔːtən.ˈdʒɪfərd/)
11. Barham – (Pronounced BA-R'M /ˈbærəm/)
12. Barholm – (Pronounced BA-R'M /ˈbærəm/)
13. Barnoldswick – (Pronounced locally as BAR-LIK /ˈbɑrlɪk/)
14. Barugh – (Pronounced BARK /ˈbɑrk/)
15. Great Barugh and Little Barugh – (Pronounced BARF – /ˈbɑrf/)
16. Beauchamp Roding – (Pronounced BEECHAM /biːtʃəm/)
17. Beauchief – (Pronounced BEECH-IFF /ˈbiːtʃɪf/)
18. Beaudesert – (Pronounced BELZA /ˈbɛlzər/)
19. Beaulieu – (Pronounced BYOO-LEE /ˈbjuːli/)
20. Beaminster – (Pronounced BEMINSTER /ˈbɛm.ɨnstər/)
21. Bellingham – (Pronounced BELL-IN-J'M /ˈbɛlɪndʒəm/)
22. Belvoir  – (Pronounced BEAVER /ˈbiːvər/)
23. Berkeley – (Pronounced BARK-LEE /ˈbɑrkli/)
24. Berkshire  – (Pronounced BARK-SH'A /ˈbɑrkʃər/)
25. Berwick-upon-Tweed – (Pronounced BERRICK /ˈbɛrɪk/)
25. Bicester – (Pronounced BISTER /ˈbɪstər/)
26. Bideford – (Pronounced BIDIFFERD /ˈbɪdɪfərd/)
27. Billericay – (Pronounced BILLA-RIK-EE /ˌbɪləˈrɪki/)
28. Blackley – (Pronounced BLAKELY /ˈbleɪkli/)
29. Blidworth – (Pronounced BLIDDETH/ˈblɪd.əθ/)
30. Bosham – (Pronounced BOZZEM /ˈbɒzəm/)
31. Bozeat – (Pronounced BO-ZHET /ˈboʊʒət/)
32. Bradley – (Pronounced BRAID-LEE /ˈbreɪdli/)
33. Brant Broughton – (Pronounced BRANT BOOTON /ˈbræntˌbruːtən/)
34. Brewood – (Pronounced BREWD /ˈbruːd/)
35. Bridestowe – (Pronounced BRIDISTOW /ˈbrɪdɪstoʊ/)
36. Brougham – (Pronounced BROOM /ˈbruːm/)
37. Burgh by Sands – (Pronounced BRUFF /ˈbrʌf/)
38. Bylaugh – (Pronounced BYLA /biːlə/)
39. Caldmore – (Pronounced KARMER /ˈkɑːmər/)
40. Cambois – (Pronounced CAMUSS /ˈkæməs/)
41. River Cherwell – (Pronounced CHARWELL /ˈtʃɑrwɛl/)
42. Cheshunt – (Pronounced CHEZUNT /ˈtʃɛzənt/)
43. Cheylesmore – (Pronounced CHARLESMORE /ˈtʃɑːlzmɔr/)
44. Chideock  – (Pronounced CHIDDECK /ˈtʃɪdək/)
45. Cholmondeley – (Pronounced CHUMLEE /ˈtʃʌmli/)
46. Cholmondeston – (Pronounced CHUMSTUN /ˈtʃʌmstən/)
47. Cirencester – (Pronounced SIREN SESTER or SISITER /ˈsaɪrənˌsɛstər/ or /ˈsɪsɨˌtər/)
48. Claughton – (Pronounced CLAFFTUN /ˈklæftən/)
49. Claughton on Brock – (Pronounced CLIGHTUN /ˈklaɪtən/)
50. Cleobury Mortimer – (Pronounced CLIBBERY /ˈklɪbəri/)
51. Cogenhoe – (Pronounced CUCKNO /ˈkʊknoʊ/)
52. Congresbury – (Pronounced CONGSBREE /kɒŋzbriː/)
53. Costessey – (Pronounced COSSEE /kɒsi/)
54. Cowbit – (Pronounced CUBBIT /kʊbɪt/)
55. Cowden  – (Pronounced COW-DEN /kaʊˈdɛn/ - unusual secondary stress)
56. Cowpen – (Pronounced COOPEN /ˈkuːpɛn/)
57. Croxton Kerrial – (Pronounced CROWSUN KERREL /ˈkroʊsənˌkɛrɨl/)
58. Cruwys Morchard – (Pronounced CROOZ /ˈkruːz/)
59. Daventry – (Pronounced DAVVENTREE or DAYNTREE /ˈdævəntri/ or /ˈdeɪntri/)
60. De Beauvoir Town – (Pronounced D'BEEVER /də ˈbiːvər/)
61. Derby – (Pronounced DARBEE /ˈdɑrbi/)
62. Dodworth – (Pronounced DODDERTH /ˈdɒdərθ/)
63. Durham  – (Pronounced DUHRUM /ˈdʌrəm/)
64. Edensor – (Pronounced ENZER /ˈɛnzər/)
65. Edenham – (Pronounced EDNAM /ˈɛdnəm/)
66. Elsecar – (Pronounced ELSEECAR /ɛlsɪˈkɑr/)
67. Ely – (Pronounced EELEE– /ˈiːli/)
68. Esher – (Pronounced EESHER /ˈiːʃər/)
69. Eton – (Pronounced EETUN /ˈiːtən/)
70. Euxton – (Pronounced EKSTUN /ˈɛkstən/)
71. Ewell – (Pronounced YEWL /ˈjuːl/)
72. Eyam – (Pronounced EEM /ˈiːm/)
73. Eynsham – (Pronounced ENSHUM /ˈɛnʃəm/)
74. Farcet – (Pronounced FASSUT /ˈfæsʉt/)
75. Folkingham – (Pronounced FOKKINGEM /ˈfɒkɪŋəm/)
76. Fowey – (Pronounced FOY /ˈfɔɪ/)
77. Frome – (Pronounced FROOM /ˈfruːm/)
78. Gateacre – (Pronounced GATTUCKER /ˈɡætəkər/)
79. Gillingham, Dorset – (Pronounced GILLINGUM /ˈɡɪlɪŋəm/)
80. Gloucester  – (Pronounced GLOSSTER /ˈɡlɒstər/)
81. Godmanchester – (Pronounced GUMSTER /ˈɡʌmstər/)
82. Gotham – (Pronounced GOATUM /ˈɡoʊtəm/)
83. Greysouthen – (Pronounced GRAYSOON /ˈɡreɪsuːn/)
84. Groby – (Pronounced GREWBEE /ˈɡruːbiː/)
85. Guildford – (Pronounced GILLFERD /ˈɡɪlfərd/)
86. Happisburgh – (Pronounced HAZEBR'A /ˈheɪzbrə/)
87. Haverholme – (Pronounced AVREM /ævrəm/)
88. Little Hautbois – (Pronounced HOBBISS /ˈhɒbɪs/)
89. Haverhill – (Pronounced HAVRILL /ˈhævrɪl/)
90. Heather – (Pronounced HEETHER /ˈhiːðər/)
91. Herstmonceux – (Pronounced HERSMUN ZU  /ˌhɜrsmənˈzuː/)
92. Hessle – (Pronounced HEZZUL /ˈhɛzəl/)
93. High Wycombe – (Pronounced WICKEM/ˈwɪkəm/)
94. Holborn – (Pronounced HOBEN /ˈhoʊbən/)
95. Holnicote – (Pronounced HUNNEE-COTT /ˈhʌnɨkɒt/)
96. Holywell – (Pronounced HOLLEE-WELL /ˈhɒliwɛl/)
97. Hough-on-the-Hill – (Pronounced HOFF-ON-THE-HILL /ˈhɒf.ɒn.ðə.hɪl/)
98. Hougham – (Pronounced HOFFEM /ˈhɒfəm/)
99. Houghton-le-Spring  – (Pronounced HOETON-LE-SPRING /ˈhoʊtən.lɨ.sprɪŋ/)
100. Hunstanton – (Pronounced HUNSTUN /ˈhʌnstən/)
101. Ide – (Pronounced EED /iːd/)
102. Isleworth – (Pronounced IZE-ULWERTH /ˈaɪzəlwərθ/)
103. Islip – (Pronounced IZE-LIP /ˈaɪzlɪp/)
104. Keadby – (Pronounced KIDBEE /ˈkɪdbi/)
105. Keighley – (Pronounced KEETHLEE /ˈkiːθli/)
106. Kirkby – (Pronounced KIRBEE /ˈkɜrbi/)
107. Laughton – (Pronounced LAOTUN /ˈlaʊtən/)
108. Launceston – (Pronounced LAWNSEN /ˈlɔːnsən/)
109. Leamington Spa (Pronounced LEMMINGTON /ˈlɛmɪŋtən/)
110. Leasingham – (Pronounced LEZZINGEM /ˈlɛzɪŋəm/)
111. Leicester  – (Pronounced LESSTER /ˈlɛstər/)
112. Leigh – (Pronounced LIE /ˈlaɪ/)
113. Leominster – (Pronounced LEMSTER /ˈlɛmstər/)
114. Liskeard – (Pronounced LISKARD /lɪˈskɑrd/)
115. Loose – (Pronounced LOOZ /ˈluːz/)
116. Loughborough – (Pronounced LUFF-BR'A /ˈlʌfbrə/
117. Lostwithiel – (Pronounced LOSS-WITHEEL /lɒsˈwɪθiːəl/)
118. Ludgvan – (Pronounced LUDG-UN /ˈlʌdʒən/)
119. Lympne – (Pronounced LIM /ˈlɪm/)
120. Magdalen Hill – (Pronounced MAWN /ˈmɔːn/)
121. Manea – (Pronounced MAYNEE /ˈmeɪniː/)
122. Marholm – (Pronounced MARREM /ˈmærəm/)
123. Marlborough – (Pronounced MALL-BR'A /ˈmɔːlbrə/)
124. Marylebone – (Pronounced MARLEE-BUN or MARRI-LA-BUN /ˈmɑrlɪbən/, or /ˈmærɪlɨbən/)
125. Masham – (Pronounced MASSEM /ˈmæsəm/)
126. Meols – (Pronounced MELZ /ˈmɛlz/)
127. Meols Cop – (Pronounced MEELZ /ˈmiːlz/)
128. Meopham – (Pronounced MEPPEM /ˈmɛpəm/)
129. Mousehole – (Pronounced MOUZUL /ˈmaʊzəl/)
130. Mytholmroyd – (Pronounced MYTHEM-ROYD/ˌmaɪðəmˈrɔɪd/)
131. River Nene – (Pronounced NEN /ˈnɛn/)
132. Norwich – (Pronounced N'ORRITCH /ˈnɒrɨdʒ/)
133. Olney – (Pronounced AWNEE or OWE-L-NEE /ˈɔːniː/ or /ˈoʊlniː/)
134. Osbournby – (Pronounced OZZUNBEE /ˈɒzənbi/)
135. Ovingham – (Pronounced OVVIN-JEM /ˈɒvɪndʒəm/)
135. Plaistow – (Pronounced PLAAHSTAU /ˈplɑːstaʊ/)
136. Portesham – (Pronounced POSSEM or PORTISHEM or PORTSEM /ˈpɒsəm/ or /ˈpɔərtɨʃəm/ or /ˈpɔərtsəm/)
137. Postwick – (Pronounced POZE-ECK /ˈpɔːzɨk/)
138. Poxwell – (Pronounced POKE-SWELL /ˈpoʊkswɛl/)
139. Prideaux Castle – (Pronounced PRIDUX /ˈprɪdəks/)
140. Prinknash – (Pronounced PRINESH /ˈprɪnɨʃ/)
141. Prudhoe – (Pronounced PRUDD'AH /ˈprʌdə/)
142. Puncknowle – (Pronounced PUNNUL /ˈpʌnəl/)
143. Quadring – (Pronounced KWAYDRING /ˈkweɪdrɪŋ/)
144. Quernmore – (Pronounced KWORMER /kwɔərmər/)
145. Rainworth – (Pronounced RENNETH /ˈrɛnəθ/)
146. Ratlinghope – (Pronounced RATSHUP /ˈrætʃʌp/)
147. Rievaulx – (Pronounced REEV-OH /riːvoʊ/)
148. Ruislip – (Pronounced RIZELIP /ˈraɪslɪp/)
149. St. Ive – (Pronounced S'NT EEV /səntˈiːv/)
150. St. Teath – (Pronounced S'NT TITH /ˈtɛθ/)
151. Salisbury – (Pronounced SOLZBREE /ˈsɒlzbri/, ˈ)
152. Shrewsbury – (Pronounced SHROWZBREE or SHROOZBRE /ˈʃroʊzbri/ or /ˈʃruːzbri/)
153. Shaftesbury – (Pronounced SHAHFTSBREE or SHAFTSBREE /ˈʃɑːftsbri/,or /ˈʃæfsbri/)
154. Slaithwaite – (Pronounced SLAWITT or SLATHWITT /ˈslæwɪt/, /ˈslæθwɪt/)
155. South Elmsall – (Pronounced SOWTH EMSUL /saʊθ.ˈɛmsəl/)
156. Southwark – (Pronounced SUTHERK /ˈsʌðərk/)
157. Southwell – (Pronounced SUTHELL /ˈsʌðəl/)
158. Sproxton – (Pronounced SPROWSEN /ˈsproʊsən/)
159. Staithes – (Pronounced STEERZ /ˈstɪərz/)
160. Stawell – (Pronounced STOLL /ˈstɒl/)
161. Steyning – (Pronounced STENNING /ˈstɛniŋ/)
161. Stiffkey – (Pronounced STYOOKY /ˈstjuːkiː/)
162. Stivichall  – (Pronounced STYCHAL – /ˈstaɪtʃəl/)
163. Stroxton – (Pronounced STRAWSEN /ˈstrɔːsən/)
164. Tacolneston – (Pronounced TAKALSTEN /ˈtækəlstən/)
165. Teignmouth – (Pronounced TINMUTH /ˈtɪnməθ/)
,166. Teston – (Pronounced TEESEN /ˈtiːsən/)
167. River Thames – (Pronounced TEMZ /ˈtɛmz/)
168. Threekingham – (Pronounced THREKING'GUM /ˈθrɛkɪŋɡəm/)
169. Tideswell – (Pronounced TIDZEL /ˈtɪdsəl/)
170. Tintwistle – (Pronounced TINSEL /ˈtɪnsəl/)
171. Todmorden – (Pronounced TODDMERDEN /ˈtɒdmərdən/)
172. Torpenhow – (Pronounced TREH-PEN'EH /ˈtɔərpənhaʊ/)
173. Trewoon – (Pronounced TROO-UN /ˈtruːən/)
174. Trottiscliffe – (Pronounced TROZLEE /ˈtrɒzli/)
175. Ulgham – (Pronounced UFFEM /ˈʌfəm/)
176. Warwick – (Pronounced W'AHRIK /ˈwɒrɨk/)
177. Wavertree – (Pronounced WAWTREE /ˈwɔːtri/ note: usage is obsolete)
178. Market Weighton – (Pronounced WEETUN /ˈwiːtən/)
179. Welwyn – (Pronounced WELLEN /ˈwɛlɨn/)
180. Wesham – (Pronounced WESSAM /ˈwəsəm/)
181. Whittingham, WITTIN'JUM – /ˈwɪtɪnˌdʒəm/)
182. Widecombe – (Pronounced WIDDACUM /ˈwɪdɨkəm/)
183. Wisbech – (Pronounced WIZBEETSH /ˈwɪzbiːtʃ/)
184. Witham – (Pronounced WITTEM /ˈwɪtəm/)
185. East/West Woodhay – (Pronounced WOODEE /ˈwʊdi/)
186. Woolfardisworthy – (Pronounced WOO'L-ZEE or WOO'L-ZEREE /ˈwʊlzi/ or /ˈwʊlzəri/)
187. Worcester – (Pronounced WUSSTER /ˈwʊstər/)
188. Worstead – (Pronounced WOOSTED /ˈwʊstɛd/)
189. Wrotham – (Pronounced ROOTEM /ˈruːtəm/)
190. Wybunbury – (Pronounced WINBREE /ˈwɪnbri/)
191. Wycombe – (Pronounced WIKKEM/ˈwɪkəm/)
192. Wymondham – (Pronounced WINDEM /ˈwɪndəm/)
193. Wytham – (Pronounced WYTEM /ˈwaɪtəm/)
194. Yeavering– (Pronounced YEVVERING /ˈjɛvəriŋ/)
195. Yeaton – (Pronounced YETTEN /ˈjɛtən/)
196. Zouch – (Pronounced ZOTCH /ˈzɒtʃ/)
197. Ashby-de-la-Zouch – (Pronounced DILL'AH-ZOOCH /ˌdɪlæˈzuːʃ/)

Which of these pronunciations was the most bizarre? Let us know in the comments below. 


Laurence is a British expat living in Indianapolis, Indiana. He is a contributor for BBC America and has written for Anglotopia and Smitten by Britain. Having graduated from Lancaster University with a degree in English Language and Creative Writing, Laurence runs this blog, Lost In The Pond, charting the endless cultural and linguistic differences between Britain and The United States. 

Please follow Laurence by clicking on any of the icons below.


27 comments:

Claire McGill said...

I got asked where 'Loo-guh-bur-ooh-guh' was once by Americans in the UK. We figured out they were referring to Loughborough! It's a tough one!

Anonymous said...

Well, I guess it depends on which Leigh you are referencing. My husband and his family are from Leigh, Lancashire (near Wigan & Bolton) and it's pronounced "LEE" not "LIE".

Laurence Brown said...

Hi, Anonymous. The Leigh in question is the one in Kent. Historically, it was known as Lyghe.

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vp said...

Kudos for using IPA. Copied from Wikipedia?

Laurence Brown said...

Hi, vp. Of course I copied them from Wikipedia. Can you imagine how long it would take to type out the IPA spellings using a keyboard? (Note to self: must look up keyboard shortcuts for phonetic alphabet).

Cate said...

I'm American, and my maiden name is Laughton. Funny to me that I don't pronounce it properly! I say LAWton. I imagine that the IPA is reflecting the influence of a Yorkshire accent here?

vp said...

Check out http://ipa.typeit.org/full/

Laurence Brown said...

θænks!

Jim Carlow said...

Interesting blog, but the second largest city in Massachusetts is also pronounced "Wuss-ter." Or, if you're closer in to Boston, "Wuss-tah." :)

Tim Haselden said...

You forgot Skelmersdale....pronounced "Skemmersdale" or just "Skem" , Winwick pronounced "Winnick". Daresbury pronounced "Darrsbury" and Haydock known to locals as "Yick". Also Whalley pronounced "Welly" by locals. Don't worry too much, even UK residents from other regions have problems. eg. Bolton to a northerner like me pronounced "Bowlton" to a southerner Boll -ton (as in Doll).and Wavertree in Liverpool is simply called "Wavo" like (Waco).

Dave Duncaan-Helm said...

What abut Kirkcaldy, it is pronounced Kircoddy

Yellowbelly said...

I'd say Threekingham was more like Threcking'um but pretty much all other East Midlands places you've got spot on.

Marcie Brooks-Smith said...

Leebotwood- La- bow -ud

ponfretcake said...

Woop south elmsall (Emmy)

Anonymous said...

Kirkcaldy isn't English. Other non-English places - Milngavie (Millguy), Culzean (Cullane), Kilncadzow (Killkaygie), Scone (Scoone), Strathaven (Straven)

Tishma Sarkar said...
This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.
nancy john said...

It was not uncommon to find such people running
schools in their mother tongue. As time went by and the country started
blending, such people had to bring in English for instruction in school''

IELTS Sample Test

Anonymous said...

I am from Salford and locals pronounce it 'Sawlford' but southerners tend to say 'Sallford'
And don't get me started on those horrendous Welsh names. I haven't a clue how to pronounce 'Machynnleleth' or 'Pwlllhelli' so how on earth will an American cope?

Annamieuk said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Annamieuk said...

I can honestly say even I didn't know about three quarters of those pronunciations, and I live here, lol. My sister lives in #34 so I knew that one. Cobham is Cob'm. Chatham is Chat'm. I also pronounce Bowlton, and Sawlford too, and I'm down on the south coast. I thought I heard somewhere that Congleton had a different pronunciation, like Conn'lton, but I don't know if that's true or not. Also my sister lived in Shrewton Wilts. and said it was pronounced Shrowton.

@Cate: I pronounce Laughton as Lawton too. But I used to say it the other way. Must come from having friends in Lawton, OK that has confused my brain. :)

Anonymous said...

And this is without all the Sussex names ending in '-ly' which have an emphasised 'LIE'.

Carol Campbell said...

In Seaford Sussex there is a huge debate about how to pronounce it. Locals pronounce it as See-FORD and those not born and bred here usually refer to it as SEE-fud.

Anonymous said...

I am sure we can do same list of different pronunciations in different region in England.

Anonymous said...

Cowpen is wrong. It's not pronounced CooPEN, it's Coopun.

Source: Lived here for 30 years.

madseavets said...

Altrincham is pronounced OL-TRING-M not the same as "ALL"

Anonymous said...

Godmanchester (Huntingdon) is pronounced god-man-chester...

NUKETOWN BROS 1.0 said...

I had a hard time with DERBY. Americans say der-bee and British say darr- be

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