Regional dialects and foreign languages often make pronouncing the names of places near and far difficult.
But when you travel, you should do your best to mimic the locals. And we can help.
Take a look at the pronunciations of the 19 global states, cities, counties, and an island below that unwitting visitors commonly mispronounce.
Don’t say “Loo-ee-vill.” The locals, like Business Insider Deputy Editor Sam Ro, will laugh and maybe shun you.
Go with either “Loo-a-vul” or “Loo-a-vill.” While even born-and-bred Kentuckians vary in their pronunciations, the first seems more common.
It’s officially pronounced “Wuss-ter.” While some locals might say “Wuss-tah,” that’s probably because of their accent.
3. New Orleans
Some might suggest locals pronounce this Louisiana city “Nawlins,” but they actually say “New-ahl-e-yuns” most of the time.
Whatever you do, don’t pronounce the last syllable as a long “e” — as in “New Or-leenz.” If you don’t feel comfortable committing to the lingo, stick with “New Or-linz.”
Arkansas and Kansas share all but two letters — yet we pronounce them differently.
Technically, in 1881, the Arkansas state legislature made the “saw” ending the official pronunciation, but the controversy remains. Some locals still say “Ar-kan-zus,” as some Kansans do, too.
The pronunciation of this city varies, especially depending on people’s zip codes. You might hear “Bald-more,” “Bawl-mer,” and even “Bal-more. Locals sometimes spell it “Balmor.”
Missouri is another state name with split personalities; “Miz-ur-ee” and “Miz-ur-ah” both make appearances in the local dialect.
Since theHawaiian languagehas 13 letters, the “w” can make either a “w” or “v” sound. And the state’s name takes the latter, making the proper pronunciation “Ha-vai-ee.”
If you pronounce this city like its spelling, you may end up spewing a vulgarity. Instead, say the first syllable like “cook” and the “a” long, as in “Cook-sock-ee.”
You might think Spokane name rhymes with “cane.” This Washington city’s name, however, takes a short “a,” making it “Spo-kan.”
Believe or not, some people pronounce the “s” in Illinois, and we wanted to set the record straight. It’s “Ill-annoy.”
This city in Kentucky has a noticeably different pronunciation from the historic city in France. Instead of “Ver-sigh” — like the Treaty — say “Ver-say-ills.”
Whether because of their accents or just relaxed speech, true Canadians don’t enunciate all the syllables in one of their largest cities, Toronto. Instead of “Tor-on-toe,” you’ll hear them say “Ta-ron-uh” or even “Tron-uh” and Tron-o.” “Trono” as a spelling is common, too.
13. Quebec, Canada
In English, a “u” almost always follows a “q,” making the “qwa” or “qwe” sound. But if you want to say Quebec like the French-Canadians do, the first syllable should sound like “kuh” or “keh,” as in “Kuh-bek.”
Canadians cut out a syllable here. Most say “Cal-gree,” instead of “Cal-gar-ee.”
Much like the city in Massachusetts, “Worcester” transforms into simply “Wooster.” Then, you add the “shire,” pronounced as “sheer.” In sum, the English county is pronounced “Woosta-sheer.”
Once again, you drop the “es” in the city’s name, making it “Glaw-ster.”
Interestingly, the Scots add a syllable here instead of removing one.Lose the hard “g” at the end, and the correct pronunciation becomes “Ed-in-bur-ah.”
18. Bologna, Italy
Avoid pronouncing this Italian city like the lunch meat. The final “a” receives special treatment, making the name “Ba-lone-ya.”
19. Phuket, Thailand
In the Thai language, the letter combination “ph” doesn’t translate to the “f” sound. Instead, say the first two letters like a regular “p.”The “k” also takes on a lighter “g” sound. “Poo-get” most closely mimics how native-speakers say the island.
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