There are many candidates. From the small furry „squirrel“ (which has an added bonus – its German translation „Eichhörnchen“ is almost impossible for English speakers to pronounce!) to the already-discussed Worcestershire Sauce, English is full of hard-to-say words. The list below includes some of the trickiest, as well as a couple of tongue twisters to keep you on your toes, such as „The sixth sick sheik’s sixth sheep’s sick.“
Today’s LINGUA FRANCA Sprachschule blog post aims to tackle one of the greatest pronunciation challenges in the English language. What exactly is the name of the popular sauce in this picture?
Worcestershire Sauce (often shortened to Worcester Sauce) is a complex fermented liquid condiment. It comes from the British town of Worcester, which gives the sauce its name. It was popularized by the company Lea & Perrins. The key ingredients are barley malt vinegar, spirit vinegar, molasses, sugar, salt, anchovies, tamarind extract, onions, and garlic.
None of which helps us with the pronunciation. I’ll give you a clue – „Worcestershire“ has only 3 syllables (the short form „Worcester“ has only 2.) OK, ready? – here we go. Repeat after me. WUS-ter-sher – or /ˌwʊs.təʃə/ for the IPA-literate. And WUS-ter /ˌwʊs.tə/ for the short form. Easy, right? To hear an example, click here.
If you had trouble, take solace from this elderly Italian wearing a fabulously relevant T-shirt.
Hello and welcome to the LINGUA FRANCA Sprachschule blog. Today we are going to have a look at the different versions of English that exist around the world.
„The United States and Great Britain are two countries separated by a common language.“
– George Bernard Shaw
And the difference between British and US English is just the beginning. Add the different regional accents of the US, UK, as well as those from Canada, Australia, New Zealand, South Africa etc. to the mix and you start to get an idea of the variation that exists within the English language. To see an example of this, have a look at the video below, which compares the accents of young women from the US, Canada, UK, Australia, and New Zealand. Do you have a favourite?
Spelling and pronunciation have a rocky relationship in English at the best of times. But one of the most difficult letter combinations for English-learners to pronounce is „-ough“. And it’s no wonder. There are at least TEN different ways to pronounce „-ough“! But the LINGUA FRANCA blog is here to help.
Below is a list of common words with „-ough“ (and their German translation), and in each word the combination is pronounced differently. Do you know how to say them all?
To help you work out the pronunciation, you can match each word above to the word below where the letters on bold are pronounced the same.
off / slow / up / butter (UK) or slow (US) / stuff /you / door / out
The answers have been written in white at the bottom of this post. To make them visible, simply highlight the area below this paragraph. Good luck!
The Chaos, a poem that highlights the madness of English pronunciation and spelling, was written by Dutch writer, traveller, and teacher Gerard Nolst Trenité at the turn of the 20th century. It includes about 800 examples of irregular spelling.
Try to read it aloud. The meaning is not important, it’s all about the sound. You can use the rhyme pattern to help you. Here is the first verse:
Dearest creature in creation,
Study English pronunciation.
I will teach you in my verse
Sounds like corpse, corps, horse, and worse.
I will keep you, Suzy, busy,
Make your head with heat grow dizzy.
Tear in eye, your dress will tear.
So shall I! Oh hear my prayer.