When travelling across the world, you are likely to get confused about how regional variations in dialects and accents can change the pronunciation of even the most common words. These variations can easily alter the word's meaning based on context, even for those with the exact spelling. Find out the words people say differently based on their origins.
There are several words that, no matter what, people can't conclude which way they should be pronounced. However, learning a few words pronounced differently in different regions can help you fit into various language cultures and grow your dictionary.
Words people say differently
Your speech understanding increases when you know how to pronounce the words and phrases correctly. Below is a list of words people say differently.
According to the Harvard Dialect Survey, most Americans say "huge" with the letter "h". In contrast, other people do not include the letter "h" in the pronunciation.
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People from south and west regions say "wuh-ter or "wooder", while those in the Northeast and Midwest say "waw-ter".
Just like other words with multiple pronunciations, most people rhyme "been" with "bin", while others say "ben". However, according to Cambridge Dictionary, the difference in pronunciation only emphasizes on middle diphthong "ee".
People in the Northeast and Midwest say "aig" or "ayg", while those from the South and West regions say "eg".
The pronunciation of "picture" differs in how people include or drop the letter "k". For instance, some people say "pitcher" with a "ch" sound, while others say "pick-ture" with a "k" sound.
According to the Pittsburgh Speech, the vowel "o" and consonant "w" in "downtown" are all replaced by "ah", making "downtown" pronounced as "dahntahn".
"Tomatoes" is a famous heteronym, which folks in the US pronounce as "tuh-may-toes", while the Brits pronounce it as "tuh-mah-toe". In the list of words, people say differently, tomato is one of the most debated pronunciations.
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Southerners say it "off-en", while those in the Midwest call it "off-ten."
The word mirror is one of those words people say differently. Folks on the East Coast pronounce it as spelt, while those in the US drop the "or" during pronunciation to make it "mere".
The West and South pronounce it as "vahz", while the Northeast and Midwest pronunciation pronounce it as "vayz".
Data is also among words people pronounce differently, with key variation occurring in the first syllable. "DAY-tuh" is common in the US, while "DAH-tuh" is prevalent in the UK.
Just like "downtown", Pittsburghers will pronounce the word "iron" with one syllable as "arhn". Whereas most people separate the word into two syllables and pronounce it as "eye-urn".
Oil is also a few things people say differently. People from the southern regions call it "all" with one syllable. Contrary, those from the western areas pronounce it as "awl", while northerners and Midwesterners pronounce it as "oi-ull" with two syllables.
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It is not surprising for New Yorkers to drop the last two letters (er) in the word "drawer" and enounce it as "draw". Most people globally rhyme the word with "bore" and pronounce it as "drawr".
"Bag" has two distinct pronunciations regardless of the region. While some people say "bag", others alter the "a" sound to "ay" and say "bayg".
It is pronounced as "caul-ee-flower" in the Northeast and "caul-ih-flower" in other regions.
17. The letter Z
In the northern regions, it is pronounced as "zee," while others pronounce it as "zed."
Northerners pronounce it as "bag-ij," while those from the South say "bag-aj."
These are words with multiple pronunciations depending on your location. People from the Midwest and West Coast pronounce the two words the same as "kot", while other people pronounce them differently.
Lilac is among a few words pronounced differently in different regions. What most people know as "lie-lack" changes to "lie-lock" when it comes to New York. The pronunciation is common during the Rochester Lilac Festival.
This staple morning breakfast is pronounced as "bay-gull" for most eastern cities like New York. But to many Westerners, it is pronounced as "bah-gull".
According to the Urban Dictionary, New Yorkers call it "caw-fee", while the rest of the world knows it as "kaa-fee". The British pronunciation of the word is "ko·fee."
"Caramel" is among the controversial words people pronounce differently. The West Coast and Midwest people say "car-ml" with two syllables, while East Coast people say "car-a-mel" with three syllables.
Whether it is "sear-up", "seer-up", or "sir-up", all pronunciations are acceptable and mean the same thing globally.
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"Shed-yool" is common in the North and Midwest, while "sked-yool" is prevalent in the South and West regions.
It is often enounced as "koo-pon," but others call it "kyoo-pon."
Go to Colorado and Wyoming, and you will hear a "kai-ote." For the rest of the world, "kai-o-tee" is quite common.
"Interesting" is one of the words pronounced differently in different regions, but the diphthongs don't change their pronunciation. It is pronounced as "in-teREST-ing" (US) or "in-TRI-sting" (British).
Most people pronounce it as "loy-er," but folks from the South pronounce it as "lahw-yer."
In the North and Midwest, "pry-vuh-see" is common, but in the Southwest, it is pronounced as 'pry-veh-see."
"Anti" is enounced as "an-tye" in the North and Midwest, but Southerners pronounce it as "an-tee."
The term "tour" can either be pronounced as "tore" or "toor". However, Macmillan and Merriam-Webster advise the latter.
The difference in pronunciation usually has to do with the "a" sound. Some people say "pa-jam-as" with a long "a" sound, while others say "puh-jam-uhs" with a short "a" sound.
According to Nevadans, the correct pronunciation is "Nev-ad-a" with an "add" sound. However, most visitors pronounce it as "Nev-ah-da" with the middle "a" sounding like "odd".
It is pronounced as "lee-zhur" in the Northeast, but those from the South call it "leh-zhur."
36. New Orleans
New Orleans also falls on the list of words people say differently with its controversial pronunciation. Some people say "New Or-Leans", while others say "New Or-Lee-Uhns" or "New Oar-lins".
The correct pronunciation is "Kar-i-bee-in", though most people worldwide say "Ka-Rib-ee-in".
The word is often rhymed with "pin" in the southern parts, which is also seen in words like "ten", "Wendy", and "send".
Southerners and Westerners say "guh-rahj" or "ga-rah-ge", while those in the Midwest and Northeast say "gair-ij". Others also use the classic "gah-redge" pronunciation, which is still correct.
Most people emphasize the first syllable as "IN-surance" while others emphasize the second syllable as "in-SUR-ance".
The word can rhyme with "root" or "out" as there is no conclusive pronunciation from a specific region.
According to The Cut, the word can be pronounced as "candi-date" or candi-dit". However, the latter is from British English; hence common among people with British ties.
The word has three distinct syllables "mis-che-vous". However, some in the US add another syllable to make it "mis-chee-vi-us".
Most people in the North say "lev-er", while those from the South pronounce it as "lee-ver".
You will often hear those from the Midwest pronounce it as "ex-press-oh", but Southerners say it as "ess-press-oh."
In the North and Midwest, "vahy-tuh-min" is standard, while Southerners pronounce it as "vy-tuh-min."
Pronounced in the South and West as "sem-eye" to mean the semi-truck, this is one of those things people say differently. However, most people in the North and Midwest know it as "seh-mee".
According to the University of Portland, the correct pronunciation is "ORE-uh-g'n" or "ORY-gun", contrary to what most outsiders say as "Or-a-gone".
The noun "tear" can rhyme with "dear" to mean the liquid from your eyes. However, it can also rhyme with "fair" to mean ripping something apart.
The word can be pronounced with emphasis on the vowel "i" as in "win" to imply air motion or with the diphthong "ai" to mean turning something up or down.
Do you find challenges pronouncing some words? Just remember there is no universal pronunciation when it comes to English words. It is because the language is expanding every day as it continues to integrate more terms. The above are just a few words people say differently, but the list is endless.
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