How to Pronounce British Place Names (without sounding like a git)

Lie-ses-ter? NOPE. “Lester.” via Wikimedia Commons.

In addition to learning spelling differences between British and American English, there are some other things that are helpful if you’re a first time pond-hopper. There are some obvious pronunciation differences between these two version of English that most people are already aware of, such as “aluminium” instead of “aluminum,” “herb” with an “h,” or the contrast between emphasizing of syllables like “laboratory” versus “laboratory.” But one of the hardest things to learn is the pronunciation of place names. For example, when I see the name “Holborn” I want to say it more or less the way it is spelled— “hole-born.” But surprise! It is actually said “ho-bun” with a very, very soft “r” in the “bun” bit. The Brits tend to swallow some consonants, and sometimes entire syllables.

You don’t want to sound like a complete idiot while traveling abroad, so it’s a good idea to familiarize yourself with some place names. Here’s a little guide from Anglophenia showing you how to properly say some commonly mispronounced place names.

Anglophenia has several other videos constructed to help Americans understand many things that are inherently British. Check our their Youtube channel for more.

Happy travels!

4 thoughts on “How to Pronounce British Place Names (without sounding like a git)

    1. Very true! I used to ask the people at uni how to pronounce certain things. It took me a while to get used to “Ruislip” and a few others. Luckily I watch a ton of BBC, so I already knew how to say things like “Leicester” when I first arrived.

      Liked by 1 person

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