How to Pronounce Places: When in the UK

We’ve all had our own faux-pas here and there, but there’s nothing more embarrassing than mispronouncing a place while traveling. Like any Filipino (and Spanish and Latino), I pronounce everything as it is.

Being Filipino, my grandmother Angelina was ‘Ang-hel-li-na’, not how Jolie is more famously called; and the Los Angeles is certainly not pronounced ‘Loss An-jel-izz’.

For us it’s challenging to travel to places with excessive, complicated spellings like France. And yet, traveling to a completely English-speaking country like the United Kingdom doesn’t mean it’s any easier–they also like to pronounce things a little differently.

Here are some common place pronunciation mistakes, and how to properly pronounce them (at my very best! I’m only a non-local too, after all). Avoid yourself from future embarrassment and say it like a local.

  • Reading – a large town located outside London, in Berkshire, England.

reading

  • River Thames – the longest river in England, where the Tower Bridge and London Bridge are built upon.

thames

  • Leicester, Gloucester, Worcester, Bicester – for all place names ending in ‘-cester’, you leave out the ‘ce’ and you just pronounce the ‘-ster’. If you are comfortable with saying it with a twang, ‘-stah’, you can do so.

leicester square45

I read from another blog that to ask for ‘Worcestershire Sauce’, you can drop the -shire. You don’t need to say the complete name–everyone calls it ‘Worcester (or Woss-ter) Sauce’.

  • Warwick, Chiswick, Keswick – The English like to pretend that ‘w’ doesn’t exist and prefer to leave it out like it doesn’t exist.

warwick

chiswick

…And yet, as to my reader Jill said, ‘Gatwick’ (as in the airport) is pronounced ‘Gat-wick’. Talk about confusion.

  • Greenwich, Norwich – Again the ‘w’ is ignored, and the ‘ich’ is pronounced as in ‘itch’, not ‘ick’

greenwich-pronunciation

  • Dartmouth, Bournemouth, Exemouth – ‘-moth’ is not pronounced like it’s the oral opening of the human face.

dartmouth

  • Edinburgh – Edinburgh doesn’t rhyme with Pittsburgh after all.

edinburgh-pronunciation

  • Salisbury – Another one of my faux-pas where I tend to pronounce everything as it’s spelled.

salisbury

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