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List of words of disputed pronunciation

The following is a list of words and names which are often pronounced by native speakers of the English language in ways which many others consider to be incorrect. In some cases this is because of uncertain knowledge of a foreign language; in others it is a dispute between the spelling of a word and a newer pronunciation that has arisen since the spelling was fixed. In some cases it may because of national differences (such as British versus American), though these are not usually considered 'incorrect', merely different.

  • arctic (AR-tik or ARK-tik, and similarly in antarctic, Antarctica)
  • Arkansas (pronounced as AR-kan-saw in the state of Arkansas, but as ar-KAN-zas in the state of Kansas)
  • ask (ask, ahsk, or aks depending on dialect, but with aks often regarded as substandard)
  • Chinese (CHY-NEEZ is the pronunciation recommended by some, conventionally with two stressed syllables, a rare exception)
  • controversy stressed CON-tro-ver-sy or con-TROV-er-sy
  • either[?] (ee-ther or i-ther)
  • February (feb-u-airy more common than feb-ru-airy)
  • Forte (someone's strong point) is frequently pronounced for-tay as if from Italian, though it's originally from French and was pronounced like fort.
  • Hans[?]; given name e.g. of Hans Blix (many people with this name pronounce it with a short vowel, rhyming with bunns, as the German short form of the name Johannes. Others pronounce it Americanized: similar to scans, and/or (mis-)pronounce this name by using an elongated vowel, as in pawns.
  • Iran (ih-RAN or ih-RAHN - often pronounced eye-RAN)
  • Iraq (ih-RAK or ih-RAHK - often pronounced eye-RAK)
  • Islam (is-LAHM is closer to the Arabic pronunciation than IS-lahm or iz-LAHM)
  • Kyoto (Most people pronounce it key-O-to, but in the original Japanese, it is actually pronounced more like KYO-o-to) (Romanized Japanese, often expresses the double-syllable vowel as "oo" - spoken "o,o". Often in English the second vowel is dropped, as in "Tokyo", which in Japanese is pronounced "To-ok-yo.")
  • Lima, as in "Lima, Peru" or "lima bean[?]" (LY-ma - Spanish pronunciation is closer to LEE-ma)
  • Louisville (local pronunciation is LOO-ah-v'l, not Louie-ville.)
  • mores (original pronunciation: MOR-eez; alternatively may be morz, mor-AYZ, MOR-ayz)
  • mortgage (MOR-gage or MORT-age)
  • nuclear (pronunciations include NU-kle-ar, NYU-kle-ar, and NU-kyu-lar) - more at nucular
  • Qatar (incorrectly pronounced similar to the first two syllables of Catharsis, sometimes a homophone of "gutter")
  • realtor[?] (often mispronounced as real-it-ur)
  • reich (correct German sounds something like Rye'sh or RIKE to English ears. Composer Steve Reich is Rye'sh. However, United States Secretary of Labor (1993-?) Robert B. Reich has been observed pronouncing his last name differently.)
  • Saddam (suh-DAM or suh-DAHM is closer to the Arabic pronunciation than SA-dam. George H. W. Bush pronounced it more closely to "Sodom".)
  • Shrewsbury in England can be SHRO-zbu-ry or SHROO-zbu-ry
  • temperature (tem-per-CHUR or tem-pih-churor TEM-pra-chur)
  • Toronto is locally pronounced "tronna", not "tor-ON-to"
  • Uranus (Most older dictionaries list YOOR-a-nus first. By analogy with uranium and its derivatives, yu-RAY-nus is much more common today.)

See also: Engrish

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