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  • There are some words that are just hard to pronounce.

  • Forget being a non-native speaker. Americans can't even get these words right.

  • Today, we're going to go over 14 of the most commonly mispronounced words in American English.

  • The other night, I was watching Netflix.

  • It was a documentary, Ugly Delicious episode 2.

  • And I saw a native speaker completely mispronounce a word.

  • Excuse me?

  • I actually had to go back and turn on the subtitles to make sure he was saying the word

  • I thought he was saying, but mispronouncing it.

  • He was. How is that? How is it that Americans mispronounce words in their own language?

  • It's because sometimes, we learn words from reading, not from hearing them used.

  • And English is not a phonetic language. The letters do not correspond one-to-one with the sounds.

  • So we can see a word and guess the pronunciation, and maybe be wrong.

  • Someone who reads a lot may learn lots of words that they've never heard pronounced.

  • So it's actually really easy for native speakers to mispronounce a word.

  • This word is 'echelon', not echelon. But echelon was a good guess.

  • Because the CH can be pronounced K or CH or SH. In this case, it's the SH sound, not the K sound.

  • But there would be no way to know that just by looking at the word.

  • So the first word today is going to be...

  • Echelon.

  • Echelon. Try that with me. Echelon.

  • By the way, if you're wondering what the heck these symbols are, they're the international phonetic alphabet symbols.

  • They match up to the sounds of English because the letters of English don't.

  • If you want to know more about them, if you want to learn them for American English,

  • I'll put a link to my playlist that goes over them below.

  • Oh my gosh, you guys. I just went to Youglish just to see if I could find anyone else saying 'Echelon'.

  • I typed it in and I found another guy mispronouncing this word, only mispronouncing it in a different way.

  • I did not expect to find that.

  • So he said 'Echelon' with the CH sound, also a good guess, also not the way that word is pronounced.

  • So that word only has one pronunciation listed in the dictionary and it's Echelon. Echelon.

  • If you're unfamiliar with the word Echelon, it means a group or a level within an organization or a larger group.

  • We're looking to hire the best people who are in the upper echelon of their fields.

  • The other day, I was talking to David about the Metropolitan Opera.

  • I said it's so cool to live so close to such an upper echelon Opera House.

  • Hearing the wrong pronunciation of Echelon on Netflix got me thinking about the words I've mispronounced

  • in my life. So I posted to Facebook to ask my friends about words they've said incorrectly,

  • or weren't sure how to say maybe because they learned them from reading.

  • One friend said 'chaos'. He thought it was chaos, the CH letter is making a CH sound.

  • Again those letters CH, they can be tricky, just like in Echelon.

  • So here, we'll study a list of words I've heard mispronounced by native speakers.

  • I've mispronounced them myself or my friends have admitted to mispronouncing.

  • This one is from my friend Lowell, reading out loud in class in the 6th grade, he said 'schedule'.

  • Ok so he mixed up the L and the D, and he also didn't make a K sound. Sk, sk. Schedule. Schedule.

  • So SCH is often S Plus K sound, sk, like in school. But not always,

  • for example, when it's followed by another consonant, then it's going to be an SH sound like: schlep.

  • Schlep has two meanings: to halt or carry something. I have to schlep my groceries up four flights of stairs.

  • Or it can be a tedious or long journey. It takes me an hour to get to work on the subway,

  • and I have to make two transfers so it's a schlep.

  • Now, the word schedule. That's the word that my students have requested a lot.

  • So I do have a video that goes over how to pronounce that word in detail.

  • I'll link to it at the end or you can see the link in the video description.

  • Here, I found one that even the guy in the dictionary mispronounces.

  • Its acai.

  • Now, I get it. When words come to us from other languages, it can be really hard, but come on.

  • This one is written with stress on the last syllable. Its acai, not acai.

  • Do you know this? It's a berry supposed to be very very good for you. Often put in smoothies.

  • And yes, I've definitely heard Americans pronounce this acai.

  • I mean, with the letters, that pronunciation would make sense in English. But it's acai.

  • This next one I have definitely mispronounced before. Just like Lowell did with schedule.

  • I think we mispronounce it because in our minds, we switch some of the letters. We think it's spelled like this:

  • so we say, mischievious. But it's not that, it's: mischievous.

  • It's not hard to find examples of people mispronouncing this word.

  • Mischievous. But remember, no, that's not it, that's wrong. It's just three syllables. It's mischievous.

  • Mischievous. If you're not familiar with this word, it means playful but maybe doing something a little bad.

  • My new puppy is a little mischievous, he's always eating my shoes.

  • Now, this one again, for some reason, some native speakers add an extra syllable. The word is: Triathlon.

  • Yes, I myself am guilty of mispronouncing this word. I used to say Triath-uh-lon,

  • adding an extra syllable after TH. Triath-uh- Triath-uh-lon. I bet if you pulled 10 Americans, at least

  • half of them would think that that's how it's pronounced. They'd probably misspell it, too, putting in an extra A.

  • But it's not four syllables, it's three. Tri-ath-lon. Triathlon. A triathlon is a race, swimming, biking, and running.

  • All right, the next one is an example from my own life. I was in the tenth grade, Geography class,

  • I can't remember what I was talking about but I used this word: facade.

  • But that's not how I said it I said: facade. Barricade. Cascade. Decade.

  • Facade made sense, but that's not the pronunciation. Facade.

  • The C is the S sound, that's not uncommon, it's S in lots of words like circle and city. Facade.

  • I have two friends who said they were unsure of how to pronounce these two words: vague and vogue.

  • Vague and vogue. Kirk wasn't sure if vague should be vague, or vague.

  • And he says he still gets nervous saying it, but it's AY like in day, say, way, AY. Vague is the right way.

  • Now. Catherine worked in fashion so I'm pretty sure she figured out how to say Vogue.

  • But I can see how the U and E at the end makes this pronunciation a little confusing. Vague and vogue.

  • Something that is vague is something that's not clear, not clearly defined, stated or explained.

  • I'm trying to put together some furniture but these instructions are pretty vague.

  • If something is vogue, then it's popular or fashionable.

  • I can't believe scrunchies are in vogue again.

  • Speaking of that UE at the end of a word, like vague and vogue, what about this word?

  • Queue.

  • That looks like too many letters, doesn't it? My aunt said she had heard different pronunciations of this word

  • and she wasn't sure how to say it so she had to look it up. So if you're a non-native speaker, and

  • you're feeling bad about not knowing the pronunciation of a word when you read it,

  • don't worry native speakers have that same problem. This word is: Queue, just like saying the letter Q out loud.

  • Queue, it also has the same pronunciation as this word: cue.

  • Queue is a line. Queue up to try to get tickets to the show. Cue is a signal. C-U-E.

  • For example, if you're at someone's house in the evening. And they keep yawning,

  • that might be your cue to go home. I have two more with QUE.

  • My sister-in-law said she used to think this word was 'antique'.

  • But that's not it, it's antique. And a friend of mine once heard someone say this word as 'boutique',

  • but it's not, it's boutique. So does every word that ends in IQUE pronounced this way?

  • Antique, boutique, critique, physique, unique?

  • No, not quite. We also have applique, and communiqué, so they don't all follow that rule.

  • An antique is something that's old, maybe a rare, high-end quality, used to describe furniture from another era.

  • This antique desk belonged to my grandmother.

  • A boutique describes a small fashionable business.

  • A boutique hotel for example doesn't have a lot of rooms, and each room is really individual

  • and tastefully done.

  • Our next word is artisanal. My friend said she once had to correct a smart, smart friend who had said: artisanal.

  • Stress can be tricky. There aren't many rules about it. This word does have second syllable stress.

  • Artisanal. Something that is 'artisanal' is something handmade, often in a traditional way.

  • Artisanal bread. Artisanal cheese. Something handmade in a small batch,

  • different from something made in a factory. Artisanal.

  • Next is cognac.

  • My friend Emily said: I said it loudly at a party, and the room got very quiet.

  • I thought it was pronounced Cogganack.

  • I can see why she thought that, look at the letters. Cognac. But it's cognac, cognac.

  • Cognac is a very high quality brandy.

  • Next is: draught.

  • This word is confusing because it looks like it should be the pronunciation of this word: drought,

  • the one with OU is pronounced drought, the one with AU is pronounced draught.

  • Draught is common because beer in kegs is called draught beer, and a lot of people prefer drinking that

  • to beer that's bottled or a canned.

  • Drought with OU is a long period with little or no rain. And then there's another word that sounds just like draft,

  • but it's spelled differently, DRAFT, which means something that's not in its final form.

  • I wrote a first draft of my paper. Draught. Drought. Draft.

  • And what is up with this word? Colonel.

  • Where's the R? This is the only word in English that I can think of that has an R sound, but no letter R.

  • The letters of this word make no sense for the way it's pronounced.

  • A friend of mine told me she pronounce this word 'colonel', of course, it makes sense,

  • in a presentation in school. I think many people have that same story.

  • A colonel is a rank in the military. Colonel.

  • And finally...

  • So we need it now, I can never say this. Worcestershire?

  • We have the word: Worcestershire.

  • This word is so weird. I actually talked about this in a previous video. Let's check it out.

  • This is one of the few cases where we're actually retaining British English pronunciation.

  • This sauce was first made in the city of Worcester England.

  • Shire, is the British equivalent to our counties here in America, so this sauce is simply named

  • for the region from which it comes. Worcestershire, where 'shire' sounds just like the state name

  • New Hampshire.

  • So we drop the first R, and the vowel in that syllable is the UH as in push vowel. Wuh-- wuh--

  • so the lips will start in a tight circle, and then they'll relax a bit out, but we still went a little bit of round

  • for that vowel. Wuh-- wuh-- this is the stressed syllable.

  • Then we have two unstressed syllables. Stershire-- stershire-- stershire--

  • So they can be lower in pitch, and quicker. So we have the ST consonant cluster, worcest-- st-- st--

  • So your teeth need to come together for the S sound, tongue will go to the roof of the mouth for the T.

  • Worcestershire. Now the second two syllables have the schwa, so we need basically no jaw drop for those.

  • Worcestershire. Tershire. To make the SH sound between the two UR sounds,

  • the tongue will come forward a little bit, but the tongue tip still doesn't need to be touching anything,

  • and your teeth will stay together, Shh, and your lips will flare. Worcestershire.

  • So it's just three syllables. Da-da-da. Worcestershire.

  • Don't pronounce that first R, and also make sure you put the schwa in the last syllable.

  • Some people will want to say Shire, but just like the State New Hampshire,

  • shire, shire, it's a schwa in that last syllable.

  • What words have you mispronounced or heard mispronounced?

  • Put it in the comments. Okay, earlier I promised you a link to the word 'schedule'.

  • I actually had a series going for a while called Word of the Week, where I made a video on how to pronounce

  • a specific word that someone out there had requested. All sorts of good words for non-native speakers.

  • I'm going to link to that playlist here.

  • Be sure to subscribe and come check me out every Tuesday, where you'll get a new video on the English language.

  • I love teaching you English, thank you for being here with me.