10 Strange British Place Names
Visiting Britain this year? You may come across some place names and wonder how on earth they are pronounced. Let’s see if we can help, here are ten popular destinations that often cause problems:
This place name doesn’t sound like the verb ‘reading’. Instead, it’s like the past tense of read /red/ with an ‘-ing’ attached:
2. The Thames
The River Thames causes a lot of confusion. It should be pronounced /temz/ not /θeɪmz/!
Unlike the body part, the ending ‘mouth’ is weak and therefore uses the schwa sound /ə/! The ‘bourne’ bit sounds just like ‘born’:
Bizarrely, the ‘cester’ part of this word usually sounds like /stə/:
This East Anglia town does not follow normal ‘or’ rules and the ‘wich’ ending sounds like ‘itch’:
One of the most talked about place names in the world. Neither of the ‘o’s is pronounced with rounded lips. The first ‘o’ /ʌ/ is different to the second ‘o’, which is an unstressed schwa sound /ə/:
Near to where Shakespeare was born, the second ‘w’ in this word is silent:
In the USA, this place name has the sound ‘ham’ in it, but in the UK, it doesn’t. It doesn’t have the /r/ or /g/ sounds either!
Most Brits struggle with this place name too! The /n/ assimilates before /b/ to become /m/ and ‘burgh’ is said weakly as /brə/:
This lovely university town is often mispronounced. The ‘cam’ in this word is not /kæm/ but /keɪm/:
Did we miss any? Post them in comments below and we’ll reply with their pronunciation.[ssba]
This article uses IPA (phonetic) symbols – you can learn them in the free Pronunciation Studio Starter Pack containing pronunciation notes and diagrams for each sound with audio, and an English IPA chart.