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Professional Captioners Reveal the Mispronounced Words of 2017

From ‘bokeh’ to ‘Weinstein,’ see which words people struggled to pronounce correctly this year in the United States, United Kingdom and Canada.
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Professional Captioners Reveal the Mispronounced Words of 2017

As this eventful year draws to a close, certain words and phrases have dominated airwaves around the world. From the linguistic quirks of world leaders to a wave of scary clowns, many names, ideas and expressions discussed in the news have entered our everyday conversations as a result.

With this in mind, we teamed up with the British Institute of Verbatim Reporters, the U.S. Captioning Company, and National Captioning Canada, to ask their professional subtitlers about the consistently mispronounced words they noticed this year. Which words and phrases have posed the most problems for people speaking on television in Canada, in the United States and in the United Kingdom in 2017? Read on to find out.

Top Mispronounced Words In The United States

Provided by the U.S. Captioning Company.

Bokeh (/ˈboʊkɛ/; boh-keh)
A Japanese word referring to the out-of-focus areas of a photograph, and the name of an American sci-fi film released in March. Its correct Japanese pronunciation — with two short syllables — is often a cause for confusion in the U.S. photography community.

Coulrophobia (/kulɹəˈfəʊbiə/; cool-ruh-foh-bee-ah)
The term for a fear of clowns, which saw a surge in popularity upon the release of the film adaptation of Stephen King’s It, in September.

Dotard (/ˈdoʊtərd/; doh-terd)
A somewhat archaic word for an elderly person considered to be weak or senile, used by North Korean Supreme Leader Kim Jong-Un to refer to U.S. President Donald Trump in September.

Fibromyalgia (/ˌfaɪbroʊmaɪˈalj(ē)ə/; fai-broh-mai-ahl-jyah)
A chronic illness with symptoms such as widespread muscular pain. Lady Gaga publicly announced she was a sufferer in September through Twitter, declaring that she wished to raise awareness.

Gal Gadot (/ˈɡal ɡaˈdot/; gal gah-dott)
The Israeli actress who starred in the box office hit Wonder Woman in May. Her name is often mispronounced with a silent “t.”

Namibia (/nəˈmɪbiə/; nah-mih-bee-ah)
The southwest African nation which was the subject of a Donald Trump speech to the United Nations, where he infamously mispronounced the country as “Nambia.”

Nuclear (/ˈnukliː.ər/; noo-klee-ar)
The energy source — and form of missile armament — is often the victim of mispronunciations, most commonly “nyoo-kyoo-lar.”

Puerto Rico (/ˌpwɛəɹtoʊˈɹikoʊ/; pwehr-toh ree-coh)
A Caribbean island and overseas U.S. territory, which saw nationwide damage as a result of Hurricane Maria in September.

Pyongyang (/ˈpjɒŋˈjæŋ/; pyong-yang)
The capital and largest city of the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea (commonly known as North Korea).

Weinstein (/ˈwaɪnstaɪn/; wine-stine)
The surname of disgraced Hollywood producer Harvey Weinstein, which became “a noun and a verb” according to the actor Tom Hanks. Linguists have debated Weinstein’s pronunciation of his own name, which strictly — some argue — should rhyme with Einstein.

Top Mispronounced Words In Canada

Provided by members of National Captioning Canada.

Buck-naked
A phrase meaning “completely naked” which is often mistakenly said as “butt-naked.” The origin of the phrase is apparently from the “buckskin” of an animal such as a deer.

Etobicoke (/ɛˈtoʊbɪkoʊ/; eh-toh-bee-koh)
A district of Toronto named after the Mississauga word “wah-do-be-kang,” which means “place where the alders grow.” The “k” and “e” are silent.

For all intents and purposes
A phrase commonly misspoken as “for all intensive purposes.”

Jagmeet Singh (/dʒʌɡˈmiːt/; jug-MEET)
A Canadian politician and lawyer who, since October, has been leader of the New Democratic Party. His first name should have stress on the second syllable.

Justin Smoak (/smoʊk/; smohk)
Toronto Blue Jays baseball player who was named to the American League All-Star team for the first time in his career in 2017.

Lagom (/lɑːrɡɒm/; lahr-gomm)
The Swedish phrase which has become a mantra for a balanced life of moderation and the latest lifestyle trend of 2017.

Mark Scheifele (/ʃaɪfliː/; shai-flee)
An ice hockey center who currently plays for the Winnipeg Jets.

Neck-and-neck
Used to describe a close race, which is often mispronounced “neck in neck.”

Nuclear (/ˈnukliː.ər/; noo-klee-ar)
The energy source — and form of missile armament — is often the victim of mispronunciations, most commonly “nyoo-kyoo-lar.”

On tenterhooks
Referring to being in a state of suspense, commonly mispronounced “on tenderhooks.”

Top Mispronounced Words In the UK

Provided by the members of the British Institute of Verbatim Reporters.

Coulrophobia (/kulɹəˈfəʊbiə/; cool-ruh-foh-bee-ah)
The term for a fear of clowns, which saw a surge in popularity upon the release of the film adaptation of Stephen King’s It, in September.

Donald Tusk (/tuːsk/; toosk)
The President of the European Council since 2014, who has been a prominent figure in the UK-EU Brexit negotiations. His surname — said “toosk” — is often mispronounced.

Dotard (/ˈdoʊtərd/; doh-terd)
A somewhat archaic word for an elderly person considered to be weak or senile, used as verbal joust by North Korean Supreme Leader Kim Jong-Un against U.S. President Donald Trump in September.

IKEA (/ɪˈkiːə/; ick-ee-ah)
A Swedish homeware company who celebrated their 30th birthday in the U.K. in October, whose name is mispronounced “ai-kee-ah” my many Britons.

Lagom (/lɑːrɡɒm/; lahr-gomm)
The Swedish phrase which has become a mantra for a balanced life of moderation and the latest lifestyle trend of 2017.

Mar-a-Lago (/mɑːr ə lɑːrgoʊ/; mar-ah-lahr-goh)
U.S. President Donald Trump’s resort and golf club in Palm Beach, Florida, which has been referred to by the President as his “Winter White House.”

Pyongyang (/ˈpjɒŋˈjæŋ/; pyong-yang)
The capital and largest city of the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea (commonly known as North Korea).

Taoiseach (/ˈtiːʃəx/; tee-shockh)
Ireland’s prime minister, chief executive and head of government. The current office holder, Leo Varadkar, has seen a higher profile in the U.K. for his part in the Brexit negotiations.

Weinstein (/ˈwaɪnstaɪn/; wine-stine)
The surname of disgraced Hollywood producer Harvey Weinstein, which became “a noun and a verb” according to the actor Tom Hanks. Linguists have debated Weinstein’s pronunciation of his own name, which strictly — some argue — should rhyme with Einstein.

Wladimir Klitschko (/ˈvlædiːmiːr ˈkliːtʃkoʊ/; vlah-dee-meer kleetch-koh)
The Ukrainian professional boxer who fought Anthony Joshua at Wembley Stadium in April, in front of 90,000 people, before announcing his retirement later in the year.

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