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Inconsistent pronunciations in real life.


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    Languages in General 
  • Unfortunately due to the law of entropy, there isn't a single language anywhere in the world wherein which the written form perfectly corresponds to the spoken form. Some languages have more phonetically consistent writing than others (compare Spanish to French, for example), but even if you wrote in the International Phonetic Alphabet it's going to become inaccurate in a few centuries, since the way words are pronounced is constantly changing due to generational replacement and geographic separation between speakers of the same language.
  • The main reason that English spelling is such a mess stems from the fact that while it was being standardized English pronunciation has been going through a massive sound shift, so quite a bit of vocabulary today corresponds to how they would've been pronounced circa the 13th to 14th centuries.
  • Chinese Characters. Contrary to popular belief, Chinese does offer a mild pronunciation guide - most characters follow a standard part x next to part y formula, where the character relates to x in meaning and is pronounced something like y - but this doesn't apply to all characters, and there's no way to tell which part is the phonetic part or even if a character is working on this system. Furthermore, while the components of the character can clue you in on the tonality of the character, this doesn't always work either. To make matters worse, a character formed this way used in Japanese, for example, using native pronunciation and not borrowing the pronunciation directly from Chinese, will not be pronounced the way the phonetic component would have you believe, making it look entirely like an arbitrary, nonphonetic symbol. Even pronunciations directly derived from the Chinese will be different than the original, given that Chinese and Japanese phonemes are different; a native speaker of one language learning the other is liable of having a rough time of it.
  • Foreign diplomatic families assigned to Moscow found the Cyrillic alphabet confusing. Seeing the Russian word for "resturant" written down as РЕСТОРАН, there was a distinct tendency to pronounce it as though it were in the Latin alphabet. (Pronunciation becomes significantly easier when one remembers that a lot of the Cyrillic alphabet has equivalents in the Greek one; the Greek phi and the Cyrillic "f" are written basically the same way, for instance) This became a running joke at the British Embassy: "What time does the pectopah open? Which pectopah shall we dine at tonight?" etc.
    • Even the Slavic languages that use the Latin alphabet tend to be confusing for English speakers because they have consonant blends that don't exist in other languages. In Polish, for instance, the "sh" and "ch" sounds are spelled "sz" and "cz", respectively, while the "j" sound is spelled "dz". The letter "j", on the other hand, denotes an i/y sound not found in English.
  • Irish. Increasingly prominent in the UK in particular due to the popularity of Irish names. It has a lot of letter combinations (especially bh, dh, gh, mh) that are not pronounced like you might expect them to be if your first language is English. Example – Aoife ("Eefa"), Caoimhe ("Keeva"), Niamh ("Neeve"), Saoirse ("Sursha") Tadgh (Tieg, i.e like tiger without the second syllable). The Irish word for lake, lough, is pronounced almost exactly like the Scottish loch, not luff. The Irish village of Teamhair next to Blarney, home of the famous Blarney Stone, is pronounced "Tower".
  • Many Hebrew names can lead to this as Hebrew normally does not write down vowels, so many editions of the King James Bible spell the names out phonetically, with the syllables separated by hyphens. This has even led to names being pronounced completely differently to what they would've been pronounced in biblical times - Jehovah, for example, is likely pronounced "Yah-weh" back then. This is often referenced by parodies written In the Style of... the KJV, such as Private Eye`s take on contemporary news from the Middle East:
    "And lo, Shar-on journeyeth into the land of Us, to the House that is White, there to meet with the King of Us, which is called Dub-ya."
  • Due to English and Japanese having different conventions on words ending with e (English uses it to indicate it's a long vowel, Japanese just pronounces it) many Japanese words that have been added to the English language are mispronounced. This very wiki has quite a few offending tropes: Moe? It's pronounced moh-eh. Megane? Meh-gah-neh. Ume, Seme, Tsundere - look, you get the idea. In newer borrowings we've even resorted to shoving in an H at the end of these words to make their supposed pronunciation more obvious, such as bokeh.
    • An interesting variation is words like "karate" ("ka-rah-teh"), "sake" ("sa-keh"), "karaoke" ("ka-rah-oh-keh"), and "kamikaze" ("ka-mee-ka-zeh"). While some people think they're mispronounced, this is not exactly the case - this pronunciation is based on the Okinawan dialect of Japanese, since English encountered these words via American soldiers in the Okinawan base after WWII, so it's more a case of acquiring a non-standard pronunciation guide.
    • Another very subtle but important facet of the Japanese language that is utterly absent in English (and, thus, almost indiscernible to an English ear) is the practice of lengthening vowels on specific words by holding the sound just a split-second longer, which can change their meaning. A famous Rakugo comedian, Katsura Sunshine, often Lampshades this for laughs with a few examples: Obasan note  and Obaasan note ; shujin note  and shuujin note ; komon note  and koumon note .
  • Do not expect any non-scientists (or even some scientists) to pronounce the Latin-derivednote  scientific names of organisms correctly. One of the worst cases is probably Troodon, which almost everybody pronounces "TRUE-don" instead of "TROW-uh-don" which is correct.note  Probably doesn't help that there really isn't a one true way to pronounce Latin, as, historically, all countries that used it as a scholarly language ended up using it slightly differently, bending the pronounciation to fit their own language better.
    • In Latin, there is no soft C sound; all Cs are read like Ks. Cue every Latin student ever pronouncing cinnis (ash) as Sin-us, not Kin-is. Likewise, Vs were pronounced as Ws. This means that Caesar's famous line "Veni, vidi vici" is actually pronounced as "Way-nee, wee-dee, wee-kee". Which sounds considerably less cool than the way people usually say it.The word "Caesar" itself would be pronounced by the Ancient Romans almost exactly like the German word "Kaiser" (indeed,the German word comes directly from Latin). (Note: Classical Latin. High Church Latin introduced the soft C, and also the sound "vuh" for V.)
  • Nahuatl is actually really straightforward to figure out how words are pronounced once you know the orthography, but because it's based on Spanish it can be hell for English speakers to figure out. Very roughly: "hu" and "uh" are pronounced as w, "x" is pronounced as sh, "ch" is the same as English ch, "tz" is similar to ch except it's at the front of your mouth, "tl" is also similar to ch except you also have your tongue touching the roof of your mouth like you're simultaneously pronouncing l. Everything else is pretty much the same as English. Thus, Tlaloc is tla-lok, Quetzalcoatl is kweh-tsal-koh-yotl, Huitzilopochtli is wee-tsee-loh-poch-tli, Nezahualcoyotl is ne-sa-wa-koh-yotl, and Tlahuizcalpantecuhtli is tla-wis-kal-pan-teh-koow-tli.
  • Serbo-Croatian languages zig-zag around this trope. Bosnian and Serbian neatly avoids this by having everything spelled as it is pronounced, e.g. Paul McCartney would be Pol Mekartni. (Warning: Do not try to back-spell into original language. Results in phonetic equivalent of "Blind Idiot" Translation.) This is often ignored nowadays for languages that are well understood by the populace, mostly German and English.
    • Croatian on the other hand largely sticks with the original spelling for Romance and Germanic languages (Paul McCartney would still be Paul McCartney), while foreign Slavic names are adjusted for Croatian. This even applies for some exotic languages like East Asian languages where the spelling is either English or Croatian, depending on the translator (e.g. "Deng Xiaoping" and "Deng Šaoping" are both usable).
    • As for foreigners pronouncing Serbo-Croatian words and names, a couple basic rules: The sound English speaking folks recognize as "J" is written as "Dž" or if softer "Đ" in Bosnian, "Ž" is the "G" in "genre" the Bosnian "J" is pronounced as "Y", Š = Sch, Č = Ch, Ć = Ch (soft), "C" is always pronounced as "TZ" in "blitzkrieg" — never as "K", "Lj" and "Nj" are separate letters and pronounced as very soft "Ly" and "Ny" (they are a common feature of Serbo-Croatian baby speak.) The vowels are never pronounced as you think and you're probably accenting them too much- also there are preciously few around for English/American ears. One more thing, "*cough*" and "*spit*" are not letters of the Serbo-Croatian alphabet — no matter what many foreigners seem to think.
  • The Vietnamese alphabet has been around for more than 300 years and changed very little, not to mention all the peculiar rules that have been there from the beginning, so beware of Vietnamese words and names — they might not be what they look like. For example, in Vietnamese, the word "pho" is pronounced with an unrounded vowel, so "fuh" is the closest English approximation. It's not "foe" or "faw". Places like Pho King have the right idea.
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    Places 
  • When the river in question is within the state of Arkansas it is pronounced the "ar-kan-saw" river. When the river in question is within the state of Kansas, it is pronounced the "ar-kansas" river.
  • Native Maine residents refer to the city of Bangor as "Bang-gore" despite everyone outside of the state (including in Wales where the name originated) referring to it as "Bang-er". There's also the town of Calais, pronounced exactly the way it's spelt ... in English. Cal-is.
  • Bryn Mawr, Pennsylvania (best known for its namesake, Bryn Mawr College), pronounced "brin mar". The original Welsh pronunciation is more similar to "brin mowr".
    • Other Welsh-derived town names in the area include Tredyffrin (TruhDIFFrihn), and Bala Cynwyd (Bahla KINwood). These towns are part of a whole "Welsh Tract" west of Philadelphia (mostly in Montgomery County, but also extending into Chester and Delaware Counties), originally settled by Welsh colonists.note  The names have long since been anglicized (Lower Gwynedd Township is pronounced like "gwen-ed" not "gwin-eth"), and indeed some names are not even really Welsh (e.g. Gladwyne), as the Welsh names of some of the older Main Line towns (e.g. Merion, Radnor, Haverford, and the aforementioned Bala Cynwyd) were seen as rather stylish in the 1850s and 60s.
  • The city of Cairo is pronounced like "Ky-roh", different from how it looks. Unless you're talking about the one in Illinois, where the locals say "Kay-roh".
  • Duquesne University, in Pittsburgh. Not "doo-KEZ-nee", but "doo-KANE". Which is almost the exact opposite problem fans of the film of The Shawshank Redemption have when reading the original novella: seeing main character Andy's last name, pronounced "doo-FRAIN", spelled as "Dufresne". Though the vowel sound "u" doesn't sound anything at all like the english "oo" in french.
  • Japan:
    • The name of the country itself has two pronunciations in Japanese: It's either "Nihon" or "Nippon". Official government stance is "it's both, pronounce it whichever way you want".
    • Even people within the city written as 各務原 in Japan can't be sure how the city's name should be pronounced. The city hall uses "Kakamigahara", the two rail operators that serve the city have their own way of calling it; JR calls it Kagamigahara while Meitetsu calls it Kagamihara. What's more, the local schools decides it's Kakamihara.
  • The French tire manufacturer Michelin. Is supposed to be pronounced "Meesh-lan". Amusingly, people will often get it right (or at least a lot closer than "Mitchell-in") when talking about Michelin star restaurants. Presumably there's not much crossover between people who talk about high-class restaurants and people who talk about tires — even though the tire manufacturers are the same company who publish the Michelin Guide (the point of the Guide, which first appeared in 1900, was to show people interesting places they could go by road in these newfangled automobiles—the further people go in their cars, the more they'll wear their tires out, the more they'll need to buy new tires).
  • Mississippi has a lot of these. The city of Biloxi, on the Gulf Coast is pronounced like "Bi-LUX-ee" not "Bi-LOX-ee", The local river, Tchoutacabouffa River, is pronounced, "TOO-ta-ca-BUFF-a". Gautier, a small town 20 miles east of Biloxi is pronounced , "GO-shay" or sometimes, "GO-chay". Saucier, a small town 20 miles west of Biloxi is pronounced, "SO-sure".
  • Georgia has their own pronunciations of more famous places: Houston County (HOW-ston, not HYU-ston) and Albany (al-BEN-ny instead of AL-ba-ny). There's also Dekalb county with a silent "l", though some sound it out anyway.
  • Missouri residents remain bitterly divided over whether their state's name should end in an "ee" sound or an "uh" sound. Dave Barry Slept Here jokingly refers to this division as the Missouri Compromise, though unlike the actual Missouri Compromise there is no clear dividing line.
  • Washington State has several cities and towns with names that are either Native American words or derived from such. Two of the more irritating ones are the city of Puyallup and Sequim. People from out of state tend to pronounce them "poo-YAA-lup" and "see-kwim" (think "sequin"). They're really pronounced "pyu-AH-lup" and "skwim."
  • Worcester, Massachusetts. It's not Warchester, it's not Warsister, it's Woostah — think "Worce-ster".
  • The United Kingdom:
    • Americans tend to emphasize the last syllable in names ending with "-ham". Brits are always amused to hear Americans talking about "BuckingHAM Palace", when the native pronunciation is more like "Bucking'm".
    • English places ending with "-bury" have the same issue. Many an American musician has announced how excited they are to be playing GlastonBERRY festival to stifled laughs from the crowd. The local pronunciation is more like Glaston-bree. On the other hand, anything with the word "berry" in it (e.g., strawberry, blueberry, raspberry, etc.) is also pronounced the same way in the U.K.
    • This also occurs with many places in Australia, including the state capitals of Melbourne ("Melb'n" vs "Mel-BORN") and Brisbane ("Brisb'n" vs "Bris-BAYN"). Jerry Holkins of Penny Arcade noted this in one of his news posts when visiting Melbourne for PAX Australia:
    Jerry: Melbourne is actually pronounced Mel-Byn, as though it were a wizard.
    • Cambridge, the University city in Cambridgeshire, is pronounced "came bridge". Cambridge, the village in Gloucestershire, is pronounced "cam bridge". By the way, Gloucestershire is pronounced "GLOS-ter-sheer". Similarly, "Leicester" is simply pronounced "Lester". Rochester is pronounced (mostly) how it looks, however.
    • The English town of Shrewsbury is notorious for disagreement over whether it should be pronounced as spelt, or as "Shrovesbury". So notorious, in fact, that whenever the town is mentioned on radio or TV, this is almost guaranteed to be the first thing that gets brought up. On the whole, the locals don't actually care. This is also true of Pontefract (traditionally 'Pumfrit', a bastardisation of the original French pronunciation, nowadays more commonly 'Pon-te-fract') and Cirencester (traditionally 'Sissister' nowadays more commonly 'Sirensester').
    • The English town of Southwell has people (even locals) disagreeing over whether it should be pronounced "South-Well" or "Suth-ell", with people claiming that the one they don't use is posh. Apparently (according to a local radio feature on pronunciation) even the BBC doesn't have an "official" answer and tells presenters to use whichever version they would usually.
    • Gotham, England. No, not "Goth-am", it's "Got-ham", similar to cities like Nottingham and Birmingham. Oh, and it's not actually "got-ham" either, it's "goat-um".
    • Loughborough is a name that has stumped many foreigners. The correct pronunciation is "LUFF-bruh". Dave Gorman, in an episode of Modern Life Is Goodish, did a bit on this name where he ranted about how un-obvious the pronunciation is, followed by saying that he likes to tell American tourists that it's pronounced "lowbrow". One anecdote (possibly a joke) that's told quite a few times is an Australian coming to England and asking a native how to get to "looga-barooga".
    • Llanfair­pwllgwyngyll­gogery­chwyrn­drobwll­llan­tysilio­gogo­goch averts this by actually including a pronunciation guide on its sign (Llan-vire-pooll-guin-gill-go-ger-u-queern-drob-ooll-llandus-ilio-gogo-goch). It's not exact (the "ll" is a sound that doesn't exist in English, which kind of sounds vaguely like a "shl", and the "ch" is pronounced as if in German), but it's the closest a non-native speaker is probably going to get. Just say Llanfair PG.
    • The Thames is pronounced as "tems", but it's common to hear non-Brits say it so it rhymes with "fames".
    • A tip: When unsure of how a place name is pronounced, say it ten times really fast and by the end you'll get a likely approximation of how it's said. And yes, for the record, that is how these places got less-than-obvious pronunciations: people slurring words / being lazy.

    Real Life Companies and Groups 
  • Al-Qaida. In the US, it seems, it's usually pronounced "Al KYE-duh" or "Al KYE-uh-duh" (emphasized syllable rhyming with "dye"). In Britain, the media usually pronounces it "Al Kah-EE-duh." Just don't say "al-kayder". Please.
    • The American pronunciation, especially the one that adds a short, neutral vowel in the middle, is closer; the Arabic has four syllables and contains both /q/ (a uvular sound that doesn't exist in English and is very hard for English-speakers to pronounce, and /ʕ/ (or /ʢ/, depending on dialect), a pharyngeal (or epiglottal) sound which also doesn't exist in English and is virtually impossible for English-speakers to pronounce. Arabic names in general tend to be awful for English speakers, since they contain many sounds that don't exist in English, including (besides the ones mentioned) the h in Muhammad (like an English h, but more from the throat — and definitely not like a German ch) and the "S" in "Saddam" (which involves constricting the airflow through your pharynx while saying "s"—much harder than it sounds, since most people hardly realize that they can control their pharynx). Another tough one is the name of Muammar al-Qaddafi/Gaddafi, which nobody seems to be sure how to spell it either (both are acceptable: the "Q" spelling reflects Standard Arabic, while the "G" spelling reflects Libyan Arabic).
  • The pronunciation of Antifa is almost more controversial than the group. Some pronounce it Ant I Fah but Anteefuh is just as common with Anit-Fash note and even Aunti-fah-dah also occasionally being heard. It doesn't help matters at all that, despite being known for protest/riots, the group coordinates online and rarely meets outside of their rallies. So even within the group there are some arguments about pronunciation.
  • Björk. The umlaut on 'o' is NOT gratuitous, it's to indicate it's pronounced similar to "bird".
  • Nobody seems to be sure if the fossa's name is pronounced 'foosa' (as seen in the film Madagascar), or with a short 'o' like how it's spelled.
  • Inversion; The Korean pronunciation of "Hyundai" is something like Hyuhn Deh; most Americans pronounce it "Hun Day" because the company's U.S. division always has, the automotive division going as far as putting "rhymes with Sunday" in its early print ads. Southern US pronounces it "Hun-Die" (dropping the palatalisation, or the "y" sound), British/Irish advertisements (and, consequently, motorists) use "hie-UN-die", Australians pronounce it "hee-UN-day", a weird mixture of the American and British versions, and both "Hün-die" and "Hyoon-die" have both been present in Finnish TV commercials. Thank goodness East Asia generally doesn't care about a supposed 'correct' pronunciation.
    • Hyundai have internal documentation on how to pronounce their company name in different countries to ensure that regional adverts and reviews remain consistent.
  • Would-be deadly militia group Hutaree (a word they made up that means Christian Warrior) has been pronunced "Hootery" and "Hatari" by the news (Colbert went with "'Hatari', no relation to Atari").
  • Jaguar: Dome Americans pronounce it Jag Wire, instead of Jagwarr. It gets more complicated when you realise it's a British auto maker and the Brits say Jag-u-war, but the word itself is Tupi and they say Haguar or Yaguar.
  • Swiss choclatiers Nestlé broke into the British market in The '50s with a white chocolate bar - something new and novel as Britain came out of wartime rationing. The advertising was a problem: Britain speaks English[citation needed], and English doesn't use diacritics, meaning the acute sign over the é was ignored and the company was called "nessel". This was even conceded in the advertising - the "nessel" pronunciation was used in the adverts and the sung jingle until well into The '70s when the UK switched to the more faithful "Nest-LEH". However, in the States, it's generally pronounced "NESS-lee", even in the company's US ads.
  • Australians pronounce auto maker Nissan as "NISS'n" and Britons as "Niss-an". Americans come far closer to the original Japanese with "NEE-sahn".
  • Shampoo company Pantene is "Pan-ten" in Britain, an anglicisation of the original French pronunciation, but in America it's "Pan-teen". In Scandinavia, Germany, Spain, Italy and Portugal it is "Pan-tehn-uh" with the final "e" pronounced.
  • Porsche, which as a German company is pronounced "porsh-uh" like the feminine name "Portia", but in most of the Anglophone world gets pronounced "porsh", like "posh". In recent years the German pronunciation is beginning to become more adopted.
  • Car company Peugeot — which is French — gets pronounced "per-zhou" in France and England. But in Ireland it's usually 'pew-joe' and in America it's 'poo-got'.
  • The name of the Rothschild international banking family is pronounced by most English speakers with the "s" as part of the first syllable thus sounding like "Roth's Child", but the "s" is actually part of the second syllable and thus should be pronounced more along the lines of "Rote shillt" or 'rot schild'. This is because the name is German in origin and means "red shield".

    People 
  • The German surname Koch is typically pronounced exactly like "Coke", and not "kotch" or "cock", although in the last case it may be a Malicious Misnaming if the person saying it that way doesn't like them.
  • Adolf Hitler. Almost everyone on the planet pronounces his surname "HIT-ler", but given that it was originally a misspelling of the German surname Hiedler, the correct pronunciation should be "HEET-ler". There's also "AD-olf" vs. "AY-dolf" for his first name (going by German pronunciation rules, the former is correct).
  • Amanda Seyfried has pronunciations ranging from "say-freed" to "see-fried" to "seg-freed". She pronounces it "sigh-fred"
  • While English lost most final Es, they remain pronounced in German and Dutch: Thus Anne Frank's first name should have two syllables ("ann-uh"). Or technically three, seeing as her full name is Annelies Marie Frank. She also had a friend Sanne — which is meant to be pronounced "san-uh".
  • Brett Favre. Lampshaded in There's Something About Mary.
  • Charlize Theron praised Graham Norton for pronouncing her last name correctly. Most people would say it as "thair-on" when it's actually "therron".
  • Many interviewers pronounce Cate Blanchett's as Blanchette when it's Blanchett, pretty obviously because there is no E on the end. It's perhaps understandable seeing as Blanchett is a surname with French origin, but Cate herself has confirmed many times that Blanchett is the correct pronounciation.
  • Dan Majerle, former star player and later a college coach, pronounces his last name "Marley".
  • Dara Ó Briain. It's pronounced "oh-BREE-un". You'll annoy him (and his fans) if you pronounce it "oh-BRYE-un".
  • Demi Moore's name was generally pronounced "demmy" for a while before she made it clear it was meant to be "d'mee". A surprisingly large number of people regarded this as an absurd pretension along the lines of Marias who insist on "ma-rye-ah" or Alices who insist on "a-lease"note , despite the fact that this is pretty much the only time anyone has ever heard this name. This is exacerbated by Demi Lovato, whose name is pronounced "demmy", and who is now arguably the better-known Demi.
  • Sir Edmund Halley of comet fame is sometimes pronounced "Hayley" (as in Bill Haley and his Comets), but nowadays you're more likely to find fellow scientists insisting that it's supposed to rhyme with "galley". A few insist it's actually "Hawley", which is correct from a historical perspective, but for consistency that should make his first name "Ed-moon-d".
  • Eoin Colfer, author of the Artemis Fowl series. It is so bad that the first question he is usually asked in interviews is how to pronounce it.
    "It's pronounced 'Owen', so stop making that noise like a car wooshing past you at the Grand Prix." — Neil Gaiman
  • Pasta magnate Ettore Boiardi averted this trope with his canned products, by spelling his name phonetically as "Boyardee" on the packaging.
  • Eva Braun's surname is pronounced as "brown", not as "brawn".
  • Faust. It's pronounced "f-ow-st" (rhyming with "house"), not "fawst" (rhyming with "sauce"). This applies to both the famous literary figure and Lauren Faust.
  • Geologist George William Featherstonhaugh, whose last name is pronounced "FAN-shaw."
  • Before he emerged as one of the NBA's biggest stars in the late 2010s, Greek basketball player Giannis Antetokounmpo's name was almost always mispronounced. His first name is "Yannis" (pronounced "YAH-nis"), not "Gee-an-is". His last name has multiple "correct" pronunciations, either the Nigerian way, "ah-day-toh-KOON-bo" or the Greek way, "andeto-kunbo".note  Nowadays, if you say "YAH-nis" in front of even a casual basketball fan, they'll know who you mean.
  • Gugu Mbatha Raw might trip up some English speakers. Her last name is pronounced "M'bahta- Raw", with the "th" sounding like a solitary "t".
  • Heroes stars Milo Ventimiglia and Hayden Panettiere have trouble with their last names, both pronouncing and spelling. For the record, it's Vent-eh-meal-yah and Pan-ah-tee-air. Their costar Masi Oka occasionally confuses interviewers with his first name; it's pronounced Mah-see, not Massy.
  • The chef Heston Blumenthal pronounces his own name with "th" taking its usual English value (like in "menthol"), but most other people affect a Germanic pronunciation — even the narrators of Heston's own documentaries (when he isn't doing his own voiceovers).
  • Isaac Asimov's name has presented innumerable difficulty to science fiction fans, both trying to remember how to spell it and trying to figure out how to pronounce it. (This includes his first name, which frequently comes up as "Issac", despite being relatively common.) Notable example: Joel Robinson never manages to pronounce Asimov correctly (or even fluently) when the Good Doctor is mentioned in early episodes of MST3K. Which may be one reason why they eventually dropped the Asimov jokes.
    • Isaac Asimov himself devoted an entire editorial in his magazine to the proper pronunciation and spelling of his name.
    • The usual English pronunciation has the stress on the first syllable; in Russian, (Озимов) it's on the second, so a-ZEE-muf.
      • A similar thing happens in translations of Chuck Palahniuk's works into Russian and Ukrainian. They spell his last name "Паланик" (Palanik) and "Поланiк" (Polanik) respectively, even though the original spelling in both languages is "Палагнюк".
  • Many people think the Row in J. K. Rowling rhymes with cow. Actually, her last name is pronounced "rolling".
  • Kim Basinger. Long or short A? Hard or soft G? Lampshaded in The Simpsons, when Homer calls her "Kim BASS-in-jer" and she responds "It's BAY-singer!"
  • Kyle Hebert ("Hey-bear") has the same problem. Worse, it's so close to "Herbert", it's sometimes misspelled as well.
  • One guest on Mock the Week referred to Mahmoud Ahmadinejad as "Where's me dinner Dad" presumably because he couldn't pronounce the actual name.
    • In the American media, "I'm a dinner jacket" has been used. The pronunciation is really something along the lines of "AKH-mah-din-uh-jad".
  • Professional golfer Louis Oosthuizen once did a commercial for Ping clubs that lampshaded how people can't get his quirky Afrikaans surname correct. ("It's 'UIST-hay-zen', by the way.") A year later, he's asked about this by a Golf Channel reporter and gives a different pronounciation, closer to 'Ust-hyezen'. In short, if you're not fluent in Dutch or Afrikaans and you pronounce it 'Ust-hayzen' or 'Oost-hayzen' everyone will know who you mean.
  • Matt Groening. The guy himself says GRAY-ning, his ancestors in Germany probably would have pronounced it to rhyme fairly closely with "churning", but it's not "Groaning". Probably doesn't help he spells it "Groaning" in the Treehouse of Horror episodes.
    Groening (into intercom): Doris! Activate the super-tuned defense systems!
    Doris (over intercom): Yes, mister Groening ("GROW-ning")...
    Groening: It's GRAY-ning!
    Doris (condecendingly): Are you sure?
    Groening (sadly): No...
  • Meshell Ndegeocello. Born Michelle Johnson. It doesn't help that she's changed her name and its spelling several times; on her first major label album, she included instructions on just how to pronounce it (Mee-shell N-deh-gay-o-chel-o).
  • Neve Campbell has this problem with some people from the UK and especially Ireland — where the name "Niamh" is pronounced 'neve' (or 'nee-av' depending on where you live). Her name is pronounced "nev".
  • Ngũgĩ wa Thiong'o. It's actually pronounced pretty much exactly as it looks.
  • Many people are caught off guard by Ralph Fiennes (probably best known as Lord Voldemort or Amon Goeth) as, despite appearing to be spoken close to "Ralf Fee-nez", it's actually pronounced "Ray-f Fines". In a certain region "Ralph" rhymes with "safe".
  • René Auberjonois' name was so frequently reduced to hash that part of his convention shtick involved tutoring fans on how to pronounce it. For the record, it's a French pronunciation with emphasis on the second syllable: "aw-BEAR-zhon-wa".
  • While FDR pronounced his name "ROSE-a-velt", earlier President Teddy (a distant cousin) pronounced it "ROOS-a-velt".
  • St. Augustine, both the 4th-century Christian thinker and the Floridian city named in his honor, is pronounced "AW-gus-teen" in modern English (the month of August, plus "teen"). Nevertheless, some maintain the old pronunciation of "aw-GUS-teen" or "uh-GUS-tin" or variants.
  • Saoirse Ronan. Poor girl probably had to constantly correct people on the pronunciation of her first name her whole life. It's pronounced 'Sur-sha'. When she was a guest on The Late Show with Stephen Colbert, Colbert had her read several Irish names that would likely be mangled by Anglophones. She also recalls getting picked up from an airport by someone with a sign reading "Shelley Ronan".
    "Shelley Ronan is probably still at that airport."
  • Penn Jillette claimed on his vlog that Dr. Seuss should be pronounced as if it's in German. Theodore Geisel himself used to say "Seuss rhymes with voice", while a collaborator of Seuss's wrote of him:
    You're wrong as the deuce
    And you shouldn't rejoice
    If you're calling him Seuss
    He pronounces it Soice
  • The late, great TV writer and producer Stephen J. Cannell. It rhymes with "channel".
  • You're likely to mostly see "Steve Blum" printed out, and probably not realize it's supposed to be pronounced "bloom".
  • Tone Lōc: The line over the O indicates it's pronounced "oh", but this tends to get ignored by English speakers
  • Melissa Rauch: Although her last name is German (and usually pronounced something like "Rowk") in her case it's pronounced as if it were French, i.e "Rowsh"
  • To anyone familiar with WCW, it's made perfectly clear how head announcer Tony Schiavone's name is pronounced ("Shu-VAHN-ee"), but people less familiar with him often mispronounce it as either "Shu-VOAN" or "skee-AH-voan".
  • Will Meugniot, comic book artist/creator and producer of such cartoons as Exosquad, X-Men and Spider-Man Unlimited, has a notoriously difficult to pronounce last name. It's "Min-ee-ot"; you can hear it in the latter series because the editor of the Daily Byte was modelled and named after him.
  • Vic Mignogna. It's "min-yon-uh", for the record, but you'd never guess that if you've only seen his name in credits.
  • Vincent van Gogh: IPA [fan χoχ]. If you know Klingon, it's van ghoH. And if you don't, the funky χ letters are pronounced like one is clearing their throat.
  • "Weird Al" Yankovic. It's pronounced "YAN-ko-VICK". Call him "YAN-ko-VICH" and you'll out yourself as a non-fan. This is because he is American and not Serbian — Americans with names that end in -ic are pronounced as -ick and not -ich like Serbian and Croatian names. The same applies to Chelsea footballer Christian Pulisic, whose name is pronounced "pu-LIS-ick", not "pu-LIS-ich".note 
  • X &A Elig; A-12, son of Elon Musk and Grimes. After the baby's name was announced on Twitter, there was much as to the pronunciation. Even after the parents did explain how it was meant to be pronounced, there was confusion the two each pronounced it differently.

    Other 
  • There is debate over how each year of the 2010s should be pronounced. Most people pronounce each year as "two thousand xx", while many other people pronounce each year as "twenty xx" instead. The folks who prefer the latter of the two pronunciations argue that a year such as 1991 wasn't pronounced as "one thousand nine hundred ninety one", which is debunked by the folks who prefer the former pronunciation that 2001 wasn't pronounced as "twenty oh one."note  This is also argued by the latter half that by doing that, one would be pronouncing two vowels, which wouldn't sound easy. But this is debunked once again by the former half that pronouncing the year "twenty eleven" is also pronouncing two vowels, which doesn't make much of a difference. In short, the years of the 2010s could be pronounced however anyone else prefers, and this will probably continue on with the other years of the 21st century up until 2100.
  • A lot of people "Adobe" (both the clay and the company) as "a-doeb". It should be "a-doe-bee".
  • Almonds. The L was originally silent and thus the word pronounced "ah-munds."
  • Apple: Before they changed the name operating system of the Apple Macintosh to macOS, it was known as Mac OS X, with the "X" being the roman numeral 10, not pronounced as "Ex." Die-hard PC fans used to relish pronouncing it this way to annoy Mac fanboys. The whole X/ten confusion was reborn when the iPhone X launched. Yes, once again it's supposed to be Ten, not Ecks.
  • Asperger Syndrome is variously pronounced with a hard G or a soft G. Given that Hans Asperger was Austrian, the hard G pronunciation is most likely the correct one, but some people reject that pronunciation because they think it sounds like "ass burger" (which was poked fun at in an episode of South Park).
  • The Irish name 'Ciaran' can vary in pronunciation depending on where in the country you are. The more common variations are 'kee-rawn' (playing up the Irish language sound) or 'kee-run' (which is more anglicised). But in the north of the country, you're likely to hear 'kee-ern' too.
  • There are a couple species of bird named "choughs". considering the "ough" string can make at least 6 or 7 sounds, most people are rather uncertain when they see the word (it's "chuff", if anyone was wondering).
  • The Dachshund dog breed, which has pronunciations ranging from "dash-oond" to "dash-hound" to "dawk-sun-d".
  • From the early days of the internet through to the present: GIFs, the old standard for indexed color stills and animated graphics. Do you say it with a hard "G" as in "graphics", or a soft one, as in "jiffy". As this one was used in text as an acronym far more than it was spoken, its usage was codified long before its pronunciation.
    • Hard G — JIFF/JIF is another image format based on JPEG, and "jif" is also short for "jiffy", which is an amount of time. Not to mention that G stands for "graphic" so the acronym should also have a hard G.
    • Soft G — On the flip side, the original developers of GIF pronounced it "jif", often saying "choosy developers choose GIF." And the same argument can be made for JPEG; The P stands for "Photographic" which means it should be pronounced "jay-fegg."
  • Keeshonden. It is usually said to be "keesh-hound", but, technically, it's something close to "kays-hund".
  • It's weird to hear "PNG" pronounced as anything other than "pee-en-gee", but the original pronunciation is "ping". Not to be confused with the network diagnostic tool, but it's hard to imagine any situation in which that confusion would arise in practice.
  • The prefix "giga-" is almost always pronounced with a hard G today, but, at one point, (when consumer technology was not yet sufficiently advanced for it to be in the lexicon of the average person) it could alternatively be pronounced with a soft "g". Back to the Future famously uses this pronunciation when referring to "1.21 jigawatts", as it's the pronunciation used by a physicist that Robert Zemeckis consulted.
  • GNU is pronounced, per Word of God, "as one syllable with a hard G, like 'grew' but with the letter 'N' instead of 'R' " — like "new" with a hard 'G' sound. Despite this, letters are often individually pronounced to reflect the (official) acronym GNU's Not UNIX. Gah-noo is not unheard of, either.
  • Golems, the Clay Warrior of legend who has been adapted into both Pokémon and many forms of fantasy (most notably D&D). "Golum" (the typical US pronunciation), or "Go-lem" (the British)? There's a joke based on this in The Secrets of the Immortal Nicholas Flamel - Flamel apparently uses the US pronunciation, because Sophie asks him, "Golem? Like in The Lord of the Rings?"
  • There was the little girl of perhaps ten or eleven, on a Saturday morning zoo show on British TV, who was innocent of the subtleties of French pronunciation. Given a link to do concerning the afternoon's sporting attractions, she read off the autocue:
    And this afternoon at two, we go to Murray Walker who will commentate on the Grand Pricks of South Africa..
    (Producer) I think you'll find it's pronounced "Grond Pree"...
    (Little Girl, after a second's consideration) Well, it says "Grand Pricks" here!
  • The word for an undead spellcaster sometimes gives rise to mispronunciations. It's not a German word so the 'ch' is pronounced exactly as is typical in English, ie rhymes with "witch".
  • Libre Office tends to shift between the Spanish "Lee-bray" and the French "Lee-bruh" — confounding the matter is Richard Stallman's slogan to "think in Spanish" and distinguish between gratis (free as in beer) and libre (free as in speech).
  • "Lingerie" is almost universally pronounced ("lahn-zhuh-RAY") in the English-speaking world. "lan-zhe-REE" (first syllable rhyming with "can") is about as close as an anglicisation is going to get, but most people pronounce the first syllable with a long "ah", with some going on to pronounce the third as "ray" with emphasis. Lengery rhyming with revengery (if that were a word) would work, too.
  • Linux: The OS is rife with this trope. There's line-ux and leenux for the kernel. Deebian for Debian — named as a portmanteau of its creators Debra and Ian Murdock. You Bantu for Ubuntu — pronounced "Uh-boon-too". SUSE, per Word of God, is pronounced "Sooz-uh", like John Phillips Sousa.
  • Is it Ludicrous Gibs as in "giblets", or "gibbons"? Gib is short for giblet; this pronunciation is used in the tutorial level for the original Unreal Tournament.
  • "Meme" is pronounced as one syllable, "meem", by the inventor of the word and concept Richard Dawkins. Yet many advocate a Japanese-influenced two-syllable pronunciation of "me me", "may may", or the same as French même which happens to mean "same". Incidentally, the word is supposed to rhyme with "gene", since the definition of "meme" is a "cultural gene".
  • The official pronunciation of RFID (a tiny chip present in many employee IDs and clothing items in stores) is "are-eff-eye-dee", as an initialism, although people frequently mispronounce it as "ARE-fid" or "RIFF-id", as if it were an acronym.
  • Samhain (the Celtic holiday which Halloween is based on) is pronounced "Saw-win", although most people unfamiliar with it just say it phonetically i.e "sam-hane".
  • Any time the word "Shaman" appears. Someone is going to argue whether the first syllable has a long or soft "A". (Both are technically correct.)
  • The Welsh name Sian is likely to be mispronounced outside the UK as 'see-an' or even 'shan' (which is a bit closer). The actual pronunciation is 'shahn'.
  • "Sovremenny" is pronounced, approximately, "Suv-reh-MEN-niy". The final y actually stands for two sounds, the first being a hard "i" which does not exist in most dialects of English, and the second like the y in "may". Since the hard i is also transliterated as "y", such words are most commonly transliterated with just one y, instead of "iy".
  • The official pronunciation of the SQL database language is "S-Q-L", but a lot of database administrators pronounce it as "sequel," as in "Microsoft Sequel Server" or "MySequel". Others also say "squill", and XKCD claims it's squawl.
  • The acronym UFO, short for Unidentified Flying Object, was coined by USAF Captain Edward Ruppelt. He himself pronounced it you-foe, but it is now widely pronounced as separate letters. Notably, the study of UFO phenomena, ufology, isn't pronounced the same way as either of these—the consensus seems to be like you-fall-oh-gee.
  • The UNIX editor vi is not pronounced as "vye", but "vee", or as two letters individually: vee-eye.
  • Xoloitzcuintles have their breed name mispronounced constantly. It's SHOW-low-eats-QUEEN-lee, and people usually have more trouble spelling it than saying it. (If you really want to annoy people, you can insist the plural is Xoloitzcuintlin.)
  • ASCII note  is properly pronounced "ass key". People unfamiliar with the term sometimes pronounce it like "ass kai" or "a sky", or else pronounce one letter at a time (i.e "ay-ess-cee-eye-eye")


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