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Professional Captioners Reveal The Most Mispronounced Words Of 2020

To be fair, no one’s really sure how to say X Æ A-Xii.
Professional Captioners Reveal The Most Mispronounced Words Of 2020

Although one of the defining words of 2020 was “unprecedented,” one thing did remain consistent in this year of hardship and contraction: Newsreaders struggled to pronounce the new words and names that arose as trending topics and stories.

The U.S. Captioning Company and British Institute of Verbatim Reporters, the organizations behind the captions and subtitles you see during real-time events on television and in courtrooms, put together the following lists of topical words that routinely tripped up newsreaders and people on television in both the U.S. and the UK.

According to Babbel language expert Todd Ehresmann, who provided the phonetic pronunciations and notes for this year’s list, these words highlight an international conversation driven by the pandemic and politics. In 2020, news anchors and TV hosts discussed advisors, athletes overcoming adversity, and Netflix celebrities, among other things. And, naturally, verbal fumbles ensued.

Perhaps you even butchered one or two of these yourself — but at least you didn’t have to do it on camera.

The Most Mispronounced Words Of 2020: United States

Provided by the U.S. Captioning Company

Anthony Fauci (AN-thon-nee FOW-chee)

Director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases, who has been a key figure in America’s response to the COVID-19 pandemic.

Bangtan Sonyeondan (PUNG-tahn SOH-nyun-dahn)

The full name of South Korean K-Pop band BTS, which translates as “a group of bulletproof boys” or “bulletproof boy scouts.”

Giannis Antetokounmpo (YON-nis AHN-de-doh-KOON-boh)

A basketball player from Athens, Greece, who plays for the Milwaukee Bucks and was named the NBA’s Most Valuable Player in 2020.

Isias (ees-ah-EE-ahs)

The name given to the Category 1 hurricane that caused significant damage to the East Coast of the U.S. and the Caribbean in July and August.

Kamala Harris (CAW-ma-la HAIR-iss)

The Vice President-elect.

Leonardo da Vinci (lee-oh-NAR-doe dah-VIN-chee)

The Italian painter, architect, and engineer whose most famous work is the Mona Lisa. Subject of a viral “Da Vinky” meme on social media.

Mahamayavi Bhagavan Antle (mu-HAH-muh-yaw-vee bag-AH-wahn ANT-uhl)

The full name of wildlife park operator ‘Doc’ Antle, who shot to fame in the Netflix documentary series Tiger King, which debuted in March.

Nevada (nev-ADD-ah)

A state in the Western United States, known globally for its largest city, Las Vegas. The state played a central role in November’s U.S. presidential election.

X Æ A-Xii (EX-aye-eye)

The name given by business magnate Elon Musk and musician Grimes to their first child, born in May. Pronunciation sourced from Grimes, although Musk gave an alternate pronunciation in an interview. X Æ A-Xii was formerly spelled X Æ A-12.

Yosemite (YOH-sem-it-ee)

The U.S. National Park established in 1890 and located in California’s Sierra Nevada mountains, mispronounced by President Trump in August.

The Most Mispronounced Words Of 2020: United Kingdom

Provided by the members of the British Institute of Verbatim Reporters

Barnard Castle (BAR-nard CAR-suul)

A market town and castle in County Durham, which became much-discussed following political advisor Dominic Cummings’ visit in May.

Ghislaine Maxwell (GEE-lane MAX-well)

British former socialite who is known for her association with Jeffrey Epstein and was arrested in July.

Kamala Harris (CAW-ma-la HAIR-iss)

The Vice President-elect of the United States of America as per the result of the U.S. elections in November.

Kawaii (kuh-WAI-ee)

The Japanese concept of cuteness, which was used as a theme in the 2020 series of Great British Bake Off.

Koselig (KOOSH-lee)

A Norwegian concept that has become a lifestyle trend in 2020, based around the ideas of coziness, comfort, and warmth.

Nevada (nev-ADD-ah)

A state in the Western United States, known globally for its largest city, Las Vegas. The state played a central role in November’s U.S. presidential election.

Paris (PA-riss)

The capital city of France, whose pronunciation became a talking point following the launch of the Netflix series Emily in Paris in October.

Pfizer (FIE-zer)

The American pharmaceutical company, which announced a successful trial of a COVID-19 vaccine in November.

Tao Geoghegan Hart (TIE-oh GAY-gen haart)

The British-born professional cyclist who won the 2020 Giro D’Italia.

Wuhan (WOO-han)

A city in China’s Hubei province, widely recognized as the origin point of the COVID-19 pandemic.

Learn correct pronunciation in another language.
Steph Koyfman
Steph is a writer, lindy hopper, and astrologer. She’s also a language enthusiast who grew up bilingual and had an early love affair with books. She has mostly proved herself as a New Yorker, and she can introduce herself in Swedish thanks to Babbel. She also speaks Russian and Spanish, but she’s a little rusty on those fronts.
Steph is a writer, lindy hopper, and astrologer. She’s also a language enthusiast who grew up bilingual and had an early love affair with books. She has mostly proved herself as a New Yorker, and she can introduce herself in Swedish thanks to Babbel. She also speaks Russian and Spanish, but she’s a little rusty on those fronts.

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