Tourists can't pronounce 'Edinburgh' correctly as new survey has Capital alongside Phuket and Dubai

Edinburgh has been named on a map of place names that people always pronounce wrong, alongside the likes of Montreal, Phuket and Dubai.

By Gary Flockhart
Monday, 4th July 2022, 11:19 am

Language learning platform Preply has used Google search data to reveal a list of the most mispronounced holiday destinations worldwide – and the Capital comes in at number one on the list.

Amy Pritchett, Learning Success Manager at Preply, said: “There's nothing more embarrassing than arriving at a new holiday destination and mispronouncing its name in front of a local—especially if you butcher the regional accent.

“To avoid that awkward encounter, we've researched the most commonly mispronounced places, so you never have to worry about these tongue twisters again.

Edinburgh has been named on a map of place names that people always pronounce wrong.

“When you learn to say these place names correctly, I encourage you to sound like a native—or at least a savvy tourist.”

The ranking of the top places features the most challenging places to pronounce, analysing a list of 68 places.

1. Edinburgh, Scotland

Correct: ed-in-bruh or ed-in-buh-ruh

Incorrect: ED-in-berg or ED-in-buh-row or EED-in-berg

If Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, is pronounced 'PITTS-berg', then Edinburgh, Scotland, is pronounced 'ED-in-berg', right? Wrong.

The two most common and accepted pronunciations of Scotland’s capital city are the short 'ED-in-bruh' and the longer 'ED-in-bur-uh'.

Scots warn that they speak fast and have a tendency to swallow unnecessary vowels, so make sure you start off strong with 'ED-in' and then quickly and softly end with 'bruh' or 'bur-uh'.

2. Cannes, France

Correct: KAN or KAN-uh

Incorrect: CON or CONZ or CON-es

The first mistake is enunciating the “s” at the end of the word (which is rarely done in French), so start by dropping the “es” altogether. Next, make sure to never pronounce the remaining word as “con” (e.g., “He is a con artist”). Instead, Cannes should sound like “Kan.”

3. River Thames, England

Correct: TEMZ

Incorrect: THAYMZ

It’s natural to look at the name “Thames” and assume that the “th” is pronounced just as it is in many other English words: thick, theater, three. However, when referring to the River Thames in England, the “th” is articulated as a “t” and the “ames” shifts to “emz”: “TEMZ.”

4. Yosemite National Park, USA

Correct: yoh-SEH-muh-dee or yoh-SEH-muh-tee

Incorrect: yoh-SEH-mi-nee or YOH-se-might

Start with “yoh,” like yo-yo. Then put the stress on “seh” as if you’re beginning the word “set.” Finally, end with “muh” from “mother” and then “tee” from “teeth.” When you put it all together, you get “yoh-SEH-muh-tee.”

5. Louvre Museum, Paris, France

Correct: LOO-vruh

Incorrect: LOOV or LOO-vray or LOO-vraa or LOO-ver

Some travelers go with “LOO-vray” whereas others try “LOO-ver.” Many skip the ending altogether and say “LOOV.” However, the best way to approximate the French pronunciation in English is to say “LOO-vruh.” So now you’re ready to check out the Mona Lisa!

6. Versailles, France

Correct: vair-SIGH

Incorrect: ver-SALES or ver-SAY-les

Much like the pronunciation of Cannes, French speakers take an ax to the “es” in Versailles. But they don’t stop there—the double “L”s at the end aren’t pronounced either. After that, there are only two syllables left in the word: “ver” is articulated as “vair” and “sai” sounds like “sigh.” This leaves you with “vair-SIGH.” On the other hand, if you ever end up in Versailles, Kentucky, stick with “ver-SALES.”

7. Seychelles, East Africa

Correct: SAY-shellz

Incorrect: say-CHE-les

The name of this African archipelago may look like a difficult word to pronounce due to its unique spelling, but it’s surprisingly easy to do: “SAY-shellz.” All it takes is stringing together two common English words, and voila!

8. Ibiza, Spain

Correct: ee-BEE-tha

Incorrect: ih-BEE-za or eye-BEE-tha or ee-BEE-za

To pronounce this name like a Spaniard, go with “ee-BEE-tha.” If you’re wondering why the “za” turns into “tha,” it’s because Spain’s Spanish dialect requires that "Z"s are pronounced as “th,” whereas Latin American Spanish speakers express “Z”s as “s” (i.e., ee-BEE-sa).

9. Phuket, Thailand

Correct: poo-KET

Incorrect: FUE-ket or fue-KET or FUH-ket

To some people’s dismay, the actual pronunciation of Phuket is “poo-KET,” starting with a hard “P” and putting stress on the second syllable. Nevertheless, this name might still earn some giggles from school kids and mischievous adults.

10. Antigua, Antigua and Barbuda

Correct: an-TEE-guh

Incorrect: an-TEE-gwah

Antigua should be expressed as “an-TEE-guh”—like the “U” was never there. But it’s likely that once you walk along the white sandy beaches of this Caribbean paradise, you’ll forget you were ever annoyed at what to call it in the first place.

11. Dubai, UAE

Correct: doo-BAY

Incorrect: doo-BYE

The classic Arabic version of Dubai replaces the “bye” sound with “bay”: “doo-BAY.” Then again, roughly 85% of Dubai’s population is made up of expatriates and immigrants, so the anglicized pronunciation of Dubai (“doo-BYE”) is in fact the most common pronunciation.

Emphasis is added to dominant syllables.

To view ‘The Most Mispronounced Places in the World,’ visit: https://preply.com/en/blog/most-mispronounced-places/.