- Babbel, a language-learning app, released its list of the most mispronounced words in 2019.
- Celebrities’ names made the list, such as soccer captain Megan Rapinoe, activist Greta Thunberg, and Mayor Pete Buttigieg.
- People also struggled to pronounce historic landmarks, like Notre Dame, or histortic events, like the Chernobyl nuclear disaster.
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Every year new words enter the lexicon – but some of them are harder to pronounce than others.
Babbel, a language-learning app, commissioned the US Captioning Company – the organisation responsible for creating the subtitles for live television events – to find the most mispronounced words of 2019. The USCC then surveyed its employees to find the words they heard newscasters, reporters, and public personalities mispronounce throughout the year.
The result is a list of 10 words that people stumbled over this year. Some are the names of notable celebrities, athletes, and activists. Others were spoken by those famous people.
Keep reading to see which words were often butchered this year.
In 1986, a nuclear disaster at the Chernobyl reactor in Pripyat, Ukraine, killed thousands and caused irreparable environmental damage. This year, HBO aired a limited series called “Chernobyl,” and it became a critical success and a ratings hit.
In May, President Trump said he wanted Border Patrol agents to use more “toughness” against migrants at the border of Mexico. Media outlets, like The Washington Post, said the president hopes this would “deter the Central American families arriving in unprecedented numbers.”
Babbel experts said, “The final ‘g’ in ‘Thunberg’ is typically softened by Swedish speakers into something like ‘yeh’ in English: ‘tOOn-bairyeh.'”
In August, the 16-year-old climate change activist set sail from Europe to New York. The two-week journey across the Atlantic was intended to raise awareness for the climate crisis. Once in New York, the Swedish teenager attended the UN Climate Summit, where she gave a powerful speech.
This summer, the women’s US national soccer team won the FIFA Women’s World Cup, and the team’s captain, Megan Rapinoe, stole the show. When not on the field, the outspoken athlete publicly advocated for women’s rights, LGBTQ rights, and equal pay.
Babbel experts said, “The ‘r’ in ‘Notre’ is articulated near the back of the mouth, and is nearly silent.”
Notre Dame has been a landmark in Paris for generations, dating back 800 years. In April, however, part of the cathedral was engulfed in flames. The building’s 19th-century spire was destroyed in the blaze.
Babbel experts said, “The ‘u’ in ‘Buttigieg’ should be pronounced like the vowel in ‘book’ and the following ‘i’ vowels as in ‘bit.'”
Pete Buttigieg is the mayor of South Bend, Indiana, and is currently running for president in the 2020 election as a democrat. The openly gay candidate is polling in first place in Iowa.
Babbel experts said, “The actor himself pronounces the vowel in ‘Malek’ like the ‘a’ in ‘bat.'”
Rami Malek made a name himself when he starred in “Mr. Robot,” but this year, he earned the Academy Award for Best Actor after portraying Freddie Mercury in “Bohemian Rhapsody.”
Recep Tayyip Erdoğan
(rE-jep tAH-yep AIR-doh-wahn)
Babbel experts said, “The ‘ğ’ in ‘Erdoğan’ is pronounced softly and far back in the mouth so that it almost sounds like the ‘w’ in ‘won.'”
Recep Tayyip Erdoğan has been the president of Turkey since 2014. This year, he entered the international spotlight when Turkey invaded Syria. His relationship with President Trump has also been in the news, as US and Turkey relations strained this year.
(te-kAH-shee siks naYn)
In February, Tekashi 6ix9ine, a chart-topping rapper, pleaded guilty to racketeering in a high-profile court case. To stay out of jail, the rapper helped federal authorities in their investigation into a crime ring known as the Trey Nine gangsters.
This year, Marie Kondo’s Netflix series, in which she helped people declutter their homes, was released. In the show, she says the Japanese word “tokimeku,” which translates to “to flutter” or “spark joy.” Kondo uses it to identify belongings that should be kept versus those that should be thrown out.