'Your hair smells nice'. If they can smell your hair, they're too close. Picture: freeimages.com
'Your hair smells nice'. If they can smell your hair, they're too close. Picture: freeimages.com

When words get in the way

By Daily Mail Time of article published Mar 18, 2014

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London - If you trip up when it comes to pronouncing some everyday words and places, you are not alone.

For 82 percent of Britons regularly find themselves tongue-tied by certain words, with women more likely than men to mispronounce words.

Place names and borrowed foreign words cause the most confusion, a study shows. The Cambridgeshire city of Ely is the most commonly mispronounced word, with well over half – 59 percent – saying “Ee-lie” rather than “Ee-lee”.

A third are unable to say St Pancras properly, misnaming the last part of the famous London railway station “Pancreas” – as in the gland.

The survey was commissioned – perhaps unsurprisingly – by the owners of St Pancras International.

It found that 40 percent of us cannot pronounce sherbet, putting an extra “r” in the second syllable, while 34 percent stumble over et cetera, and bruschetta, the Italian starter, has 25 percent stumped. One in six mispronounce Greenwich. A fifth of women find “prescription” and “espresso” problematic.

A quarter of us feel so worried about getting words wrong we ask someone else to say them, while one in six admit they stop and apologise for errors.

It seems men are less self conscious. More than a third say they simply don’t care if they mispronounce something.

Yet 41 percent of us admit we interrupt to correct someone who says a word incorrectly. Fifty-five percent attribute mix-ups to words being spoken differently to how they are spelt.

One in five say certain words are simply difficult, while six percent blame confusion caused by silent letters and five percent say their errors come from repeating what someone else said.

Wendy Spinks, of HS1, which owns St Pancras International, said: “We are always hearing people referring to the station as St Pancreas.” - Daily Mail

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