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Blog-More Horrible London Place Names

More Horrible London Place Names

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It seems that we are all united by a strange relationship with London’s place names – at Pronunciation Studio we have never received such a big response to an article before last month’s 10 Horrible London Place Names. Thank you for all of the suggestions you sent on Facebook and on the blog, we’ve gone through and selected 10 more horrible names, and this time we didn’t forget HOLBORN!

11. Wimbledon

Home to tennis /ˈtenɪs/, but why is the ‘e’ after the ‘l’? Imagine it’s spelt ‘el’ and the last syllable contains a schwa:

/ˈwɪmbəɫdən/

12. Gloucester Road

The ‘ou’ is just /ɒ/ as in HOT, then there’s exactly the same problem found in ‘Leicester Square’ – ignore the ‘ce’ completely!

/ˈglɒstə ˈrəʊd/

13. Grosvenor Square

Don’t say the /s/ in ‘Grosvenor’, and the ‘o’ is a diphthong /əʊ/, the ‘r’ in SQUARE is silent:

/ˈgrəʊvnə ˈskweə/

14. Streatham

Now we’re down saaaaf but the ‘th’ isn’t pronounced /θ/ as you may expect. Instead the ‘h’ is silent and you pronounce the ’t’. The ‘ea’ is just an /e/ sound:

/ˈstretəm/

15. Lewisham

Designed to confuse us – it doesn’t do what most names ending ‘ham’ do and kill the ‘h’. Instead you pronounce ‘sh’ as /ʃ/ as in shhhhh BE QUIET!

/ˈluːɪʃəm/

16. Chiswick

A bit like GREENWICH with its silent ‘w’, but also be careful with the ’s’ – it’s pronounced /z/:

/ˈtʃɪzɪk/

17. Clerkenwell

Full of hipsters, but it’s also weird because although the only written vowel is ‘e’, it creates 3 vowel sounds – /ɑ:/ /ə/ and /e/:

/ˈklɑːkənweɫ/

18. Ruislip

Don’t look for an explanation, just take our word for it that the ‘ui’ is pronounced as /aɪ/ as in WHY. Oh why oh why…

/ˈraɪslɪp/

19. Shaftesbury Avenue

Where to begin with this one? Start with a long /ʃɑ:f/, don’t say the ’t’ or the ‘u’. So /ʃɑ:fsbri/. Then the ‘ue’ in AVENUE contains a /j/ sound like YOU:

/ˈʃɑːfsbri ˈævənju/

20. Holborn

Home to Pronunciation Studio and by far the most requested name in this article, many say it should have been top of the list. It’s actually pronounced in several ways by native speakers, but if you remove the ‘l’ and the ‘r’ and use the diphthong /əʊ/ in the first syllable, you won’t go wrong:

/ˈhəʊbən/

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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. 


By | 2017-01-23T11:20:00+00:00 August 12th, 2015|London, Names, Pronunciation|7 Comments

7 Comments

  1. Zulima Estela August 13, 2015 at 1:53 pm - Reply

    Found the pronunciation of these names quiťe interesting for my students. Thank you

  2. Philip September 6, 2015 at 6:58 am - Reply

    Not really hard guys!!!!
    But I am from “saaaf” laaahndaahn anyway…
    Best one I ever heard was tourists asking to go to loogy-ba-roogy… After asking them to write it down, turned out to be Loughborough!

  3. tiger wu September 12, 2015 at 10:25 am - Reply

    add Berkley square

  4. ariadna November 19, 2015 at 9:27 pm - Reply

    I always hesitate with Belsize Park!

  5. Pamela January 12, 2016 at 6:04 pm - Reply

    I’m a Canadian whose first language is English and these will help me with my next trip to London 🙂

    • Karen Cheung January 13, 2016 at 4:36 pm - Reply

      Hope you enjoy your trip Pamela!

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