It can be easy to mispronounce a word now and then, and there are plenty of everyday names, things, and places that get mispronounced quite often.
Listed below are a few names that I have had trouble pronouncing in the past, along with a small explanation and the correct pronunciation(s).
Nguyen – Nguyen is a very common Vietnamese last name, with some people estimating that 30-40% of the entire Vietnamese population has this surname. It isn’t too long and seems simple enough, but if you try and sound it out, what you come up with sounds pretty awkward. The correct pronunciation of Nguyen is “gwin” but the g is very soft so it nearly sounds like “win”.
Fage – Best known for their yogurt, Fage is a Greek company that commonly gets their names mispronounced. This happens so often they actually print the correct pronunciation right on their yogurt labels: “Fa-yeh”. The g is silent and the word is actually two syllables, not one.
Hawai’i – This popular vacation destination has multiple acceptable pronunciations. Common mispronunciations are “Ha-why” or “Ha-why-e”. The latter is pretty close, but the locals pronounce it “Huh-vuh-e” because the w in Hawaiian sounds similar to the v in English. However, when the letter w follows the letter a as in the word “Hawaii”, it can be either a v OR a w sound. That being said, “Huh-wah-ee” is also a correct pronunciation.
Julio – This is a fairly common Latin first name. Often times the j in Spanish is pronounced like the h (or y) in English, so the correct pronunciation is “who-leo” and not “joo-leo”. The same can be said for other names in Spanish such as Jimenez and Javier, which also start with the soft h sound and not the hard j sound. The English j also gives Spanish speakers trouble – many times I have been addressed as “yon” instead of “Jon”.
Zhang – This common Chinese name looks like it should be pronounced “zang”. However, the z and the h together make a sound similar to j. I have pronounced this name incorrectly for some time, and only recently learned the correct way to say it. The correct pronunciation is a mix between Jon and Chung, with a sound like “jeung” or “jung”.
These are just a few of the names I have come across. Are there any words or names that you have mispronounced? Have an interesting or humorous story? Please share it with us!
ANTVibes Team Member
Jonv [at] antvibes [dot com]