The English language can be a funny thing sometimes. There are a lot of linguistic quirks that differ in each part of the country and sometimes it can be tough to know your Shrewsbury’s from your Loughborough’s. In fact we have created a list of most common UK place mispronunciations and we have even included some handy tips on how to say them correctly (even though often the local’s will say it completely differently). Good luck and make sure you impart your pronunciation wisdom with your travel buddies… or not and watch them get questionable looks from the locals.
Like the colour, it is common to think that ‘Greenwich’ is said ‘Green-Witch’, but far from it being a Halloween outfit it’s actually pronounced ‘Gren-itch’. Greenwich is a district is South London and is the home of the Greenwich Meridian line and the time zone Greenwich meantime, so it’s a pretty important place with a strange name.
Another London location, this famous station is often named after the upper part of the abdomen, known as the Pancreas; this can get confusing as St Pancras station is actually pronounced ‘sent Pank-rass.’ This station is one of the biggest in London and mostly has trains going to and from the Midlands; you can also get on the Channel Tunnel from this station.
Bicester is a town in North-eastern Oxfordshire that is pretty well known for Bicester Village a luxury designer outlet where you might spot Kate Middleton shopping well-known designers like Celine, Sandro and Gucci. But forget designers, Bicester is pronounced ‘biss-ter’ NOT ‘bi-sess-ter’ which is how it’s commonly mispronounced. So make sure you are heading to the right place to get your discounted designer clobber.
This town is located in Shropshire and has a population of about 72,000 people and 660 listed buildings. The town of Shrewsbury is not so simple when it comes to the pronunciation of the place with even locals disagreeing on the exact way to say it. With the difference apparently being which side of the river Severn you live on. So either ‘shrows-bury’ or ‘shroos-bury’ you can decide for yourself.
Worcestershire is a non-metropolitan county in the West Midlands region of the UK; it is also the name of a famous sauce made since 1835 by Lea and Perrins. A video went viral of Italian-American Pasquale Sciarappa trying to say Worcestershire Sauce with true dedication. The proper recognised pronunciation of Worcestershire is ‘Wuss-ter-shear’, so next time you’re looking for this famous sauce remember this pronunciation and hopefully you won’t struggle like Mr Sciarappa.
The Scottish capital city is often mispronounced as people can get confused by the different ways to say ‘burgh’. For example in America ‘Pittsburgh’ is said ‘Pitts-berg’, whereas Edinburgh is said ‘Edin-burra’. The Edinburgh locals are especially concrete in the way people should say the name of their city, and it sounds especially great when said with a unique Scottish lilt.
Chiswick is an up-market West London Borough and is also home to the gorgeous Chiswick House and Gardens. London is home to many phonetically disruptive places and Chiswick is no exception, it’s pronounced ‘Chiz-ick’ with no ‘w’ sound to be heard.
Ely is a cathedral city in Cambridgeshire, and was recently named one of the most commonly miss-pronounced words in the UK. Many people have apparently been pronouncing it ‘Ee-lie’ when actually it’s pronounced ‘Ee-lee’, of course! Ely also has a beautiful Cathedral that started being built in 1083, making it 932 years old and an amazing reason to visit this commonly mispronounced place.
So there you have it, a plethora of commonly mispronounced places that you can now drop into conversation and visit with ease, safe in the knowledge that the locals won’t instantly know that you are a confused tourist.
The article is written in partnership with Virgin Trains to promote their new route to Shrewsbury.