The Most Mispronounced Places in the World and Why We Get Them Wrong

Whether you’re travelling or talking about different places and cultures around the world, there’s bound to be somewhere you don’t quite know how to pronounce

Whether you’re travelling or talking about different places and cultures around the world, there’s bound to be somewhere you don’t quite know how to pronounce.

When it comes to mispronunciation, it’s important for people to make an effort to learn about and respect the languages and cultures of others in our increasingly diverse and interconnected world.

Commonly mispronounced places: 

  1. Cannes, France

Correct pronunciation: KAN or KAN-uh

Incorrect pronunciation: CON or CONZ or CON-es

To sound even more native, add the French “-uh” at the end of “Kan” (Kan-uh).


  1. River Thames, London, England 

Correct pronunciation: TEMZ

Incorrect pronunciation: THAYMZ

Historians believe that King George I of Great Britain, who was the first to rule from a royal house of German origin, was unable to make the “th” sound in “Thames” and instead pronounced it as “Temmes.” No one was willing to correct the king, so it has been called the River “Temz” ever since.


  1. Yosemite National Park, USA

Correct pronunciation: yoh-SEH-muh-dee or yoh-SEH-muh-tee

Incorrect pronunciation: YOH-se-might

Start with “yoh,” like yo-yo. Then put the stress on “seh” as if you’re beginning the word “set.” Finally, end with “muh” from “mother” and then “tee” from “teeth.” When you put it all together, you get “yoh-SEH-muh-tee.”


  1. Louvre Museum, Paris, France

Correct pronunciation: LOO-vruh

Incorrect pronunciation: LOOV or LOO-vray or LOO-ver

In the English language, there aren’t many words with the letter combination “vre” in them. This is likely why many speakers aren’t sure how to linguistically approach a name such as “Louvre.”


  1. Versailles, France

Correct pronunciation: vair-SIGH

Incorrect pronunciation: ver-SALES or ver-SAY-les

Much like the pronunciation of Cannes, French speakers take an axe to the “es” in Versailles. But they don’t stop there, the double “L”s at the end aren’t pronounced either.


  1. Ibiza, Spain 

Correct pronunciation: ee-BEE-tha

Incorrect pronunciation: ih-BEE-za or eye-BEE-tha

As a popular tourist destination known for its vibrant nightlife, Ibiza has welcomed visitors from around the world, and they all have their own ways of pronouncing this Spanish island.


  1. Dubai, UAE 

Correct pronunciation: doo-BAY

Incorrect pronunciation: doo-BYE

If you looked at this one with utter disbelief, don’t worry. It’s widely accepted that the English speaker’s version of Dubai is pronounced “doo-bye”, but ​​if you want to get technical, the classic Arabic version of Dubai replaces the “bye” sound with “bay”.


  1. Maldives, Indonesia 

Correct pronunciation: MULL-deevz

Incorrect pronunciation: mal-DIVES or MAL-deevz

Yes, you can go diving in the clear blue waters of the Maldives, but you should not pronounce this south Asian country as the “mal-DIVES.”


  1. Seoul, South Korea 

Correct pronunciation: SUH-ool or SOLE

Incorrect pronunciation: SEE-ole or see-ULE

One of the most accepted ways for English speakers to pronounce the capital of South Korea, Seoul, is “SOLE” (like the bottom of your shoe). However, a more accurate pronunciation to South Koreans is achieved through two distinct syllables that are clearly separated: “SUH-ool.”


  1. Worcester, England 

Correct pronunciation: WUSS-tuh or WUSS-ter

Incorrect pronunciation: WAR-chest-er or WAR-cess-ter

Although it would phonetically make sense to break this word down as “WAR-chest-er” or “WAR-cess-ter,” British speakers have decidedly done away with the “rce” portion of the name. Moreover, they drop the final “R” at the end.