Siobhan Thompson Gives an American a Lesson in Correctly Pronouncing the Names of British Towns and Cities

In “How to Pronounce UK Place Names,” host Siobhan Thompson of Anglophenia gives American Rusty Ward of Science Friction a good lesson in correctly pronouncing the names of such British towns and cities as Marylebone, Leicester, Slough, Ely, and Hartlepool, all of which are pronounced in a manner that is counterintuitive to the American tongue, as Ward very clearly demonstrates.

Things aren’t so different across the pond, however. According to BBC’s Mind the Gap, the pronunciation of American locations have proven to be equally baffling to British visitors.

Just as we laugh at Americans who say “Glass Cow” instead of Glasgow and “Li-cester” instead of well, Leicester, they often have the last laugh when we attempt some American state and place names. As with the U.K., many names aren’t phonetic or are just impossible to figure out; here’s some of the most common. Arkansas is not pronounced like Kansas, it’s Arkansaw (emphasis on last syllable), but the natives are called Arkansans, (emphasis on middle syllable). Interestingly, Arkansas City in Kansas has an audible final “s”. Connecticut has a silent middle “c” and the stress is on the 2nd syllable. Illinois may look French but it’s doesn’t follow French pronunciation. It’s pronounced “Ill-i-noy” and for heaven’s sake, don’t put an “s” or a “z” on the end. …The U.S. has many non-English place names that are almost impossible to figure out without the help of a local. Places like Schenectady in New York, Nacogdoches in Texas, Monongahela in Pennsylvania or Kankakee in Illinois just set you up for problems.On the other hand, your attempts at the correct pronunciation can provide hours and hours of entertainment for Americans.

Good thing we have each other.