Hard English words to pronounce

While its certain that English is not the hardest language to pronounce, it does throw rather a lot of curve balls. The English language is non tonal which aids in pronunciation and doesn’t include too many obscure sounds; there are no clicks or rolled r’s for example.  But English does have a surprisingly large amount of words that upon reading might seem very different to their pronunciation; what’s more there are a few peculiar sounds that can be pronounced in very different ways. In comparison to Spanish which is a phonetic language, you pronounce what you say, English offers many words which many non native speakers slip up on, and if you come across one of these words as a non native there are no normal guide lines of how to pronounce. Take for example the easy words island and Wednesday, if by chance you read them but had no idea what they meant, common sense would tell you to pronounce them is-land and wed-nes-day. Here is a list of some tricky words non native speakers find hard to pronounce.

Worcester

Worcester is a city in the midlands of England and has a spelling that seems impossible to get correct for foreigners. The common mistake is pronouncing it Wor-cest-er; a very normal mistake among Americans especially. However it is simple spoken as “Worster”. The omission of the middle sound can also be found in place names like Leicester and Gloucester and are tricky to deal with. Additional English place names that normally cause grief includes Berkely – pronounced “barkly” and Derby pronounced “darby”

Anemone

Trust me, not even half of the English population can get this word out without difficulty. The problem is this word is actually pronounced phonetically which is quite rare with ne suffixes. The correct way of saying this is a-ne-mon-ee with the stress on the “ne”

Though/Through/Thorough/Thought

The ough sounds is incredibly difficult to pin down in the English language. The title above contains four similar looking words all with different pronunciations. With the ough suffix there are possible up to ten different ways of saying it and they can only be learnt. Though is pronounced “thow”, through as “threw”. Thorough incorporates a new sound at the end similar to an ugh sound at the end. And thought rhymes with “tort”. To add to the confusion, English uses the huff sound at the end of enough, and cup sound with hiccough (correct but maybe old spelling).

Sixth

Sixth is a confusing word as it has a cluster of consonants that would apparently seem strange together. The th sound is hard to comprehend at the end of a word, aim for sikth when speaking. You thought that was hard the word eighth is also a tough one to believe.

Colonel

Colonel was taken from the French word, but us English decided we would pronounce it “kernel”. Absolutely no rules to go by on this word just have to learn it.

Law

I’ve included the word law simply because I don’t think I have ever heard a non native English pronounce this word properly. For French speakers especially its impossible to get a native sound.

 

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