A hugely popular Reddit thread reveals the words non-native (and sometimes even native) English speakers struggle to say. The thread has been going on for more than two weeks in which users submitted what they considered the hardest words to pronounce in the English language. Thousands of people responded and below are their Top 10.
This is especially difficult to pronounce for non-natives, especially Germans, because of the consecutive liquid sounds /l/ and /r/. Some natives too have difficulty pronouncing this word. And it is particularly difficult to say when combined with words containing the same sounds such as “rural jewelry” and “rural jury”. Here is a little gymnastics for your tongue:
I want to be a juror on a rural brewery robbery case
This one looks like a beast. It took me some time to pronounce it properly. It’s the word for ear-, nose-, and throat-doctor. And when you know what it means you can break it down and it will be easy to say; “oto-rhino-laryng-ologist” is literally “ear-nose-throat-scientist”.
Well, it’s words like this that make feel sorry for people trying to learn English. When you know it’s pronounced “kernel”, it becomes easier to pronounce. A Reddit user comments: “We took the French spelling (spelled and pronounced with r) and the Italian pronunciation (also spelled with an l).”
This one is tricky even for natives. Most people pronounce it as Pengwen with the stress on the second syllable. Don’t ever feel bad for not pronouncing this word incorrectly. Here’s Benedict Cumberbatch from the BBC with his own personal version of penguin:
Just imagine the marathon your tongue runs when it wants to pronounce this word. You have to put your tongue up at the roof of your mouth to make the /k/ sound and then back down between your teeth for the /th/. That’s a tongue twister of its own. Here, try this:
This word means a piece of land surrounded by water on each side that joins two bigger parts of land. Most people mess up the pronunciation of this word and seem like they have some sort of impediment. There is a very simple trick to pronouncing this word correctly. Keep your tongue behind your teeth and say Is-muss.
I admit I had to look this one up in the dictionary. Too many /m/ and /n/ sounds for me to handle. So, I am going to avoid this one altogether in the future. To make matters worse, here is a tongue twister:
“In me, many an enemy anemone enema.”
You wouldn’t believe this but apparently, this word is so difficult for Germans to say that the English used it as a test for anyone they suspected of being a Nazi spy during WWII.
Hint! This word rhymes with “acquire”. It’s basically the same word but without ‘a’. Where is the /k/ you’d say! Well, I am sorry but this is why English is a silly language.
This is a word Americans will never get right. I’ve heard quite funny pronunciations of this one: Wor-kester-shire. Whats-dis-here. Wooster-shire”. Leicester and Edinburgh fall under the same category. And this makes it one of the hardest words to pronounce.