Poll identifies top tongue trippers

0
Have your say

Phenomenon, remuneration and statistics have topped a list of most commonly mispronounced English words.

Speakers also have problems with ethnicity, hereditary and particularly, according to the body charged with recording public utterances.

The British Institute Of Verbatim Reporters (BIVR) is the UK’s leading organisation for professionals involved in transcribing speech at court and tribunal hearings.

They polled members to find the 10 words that Britons consistently find most challenging. Completing their list are conjugal, specific, processes and development.

A BIVR spokeswoman said: “When it comes to the English language it always seems to be the same few words that verbally trip people up, with the speaker having to repeat the word in order to get it right, or just abandoning their attempts and moving on.”

York University sociolinguistics expert Professor Paul Kerswill said English had evolved to compensate for tricky pronunciations but some words remain a challenge.

He said: “People always find a way of simplifying words that they find difficult to get their tongues round, so that an everyday word like ‘handbag’ sounds like ‘hambag’. We certainly don’t pronounce Worcester and Gloucester the way they are spelt any more.

“And ‘York’ used to have three syllables, not one.”

Back to the top of the page