[lid-er-uh-cher, -choo r, li-truh-]
Definition: Written works which are considered to have artistic merit.
Why it’s difficult to pronounce: This word has the potential to be mispronounced at either of two distinct points. The first [t] should be pronounced as a /d/ sound and the second [t] should be pronounced as a “ch” /tʃ/ sound.
Learn to speak English 2. onomatopoeia
IPA Pronunciation Guide: /ˌɒn əˌmæt əˈpi ə, ‐ˌmɑ tə‐/
Spelling Pronunciation Guide: [on-uh-mat-uh-pee-uh, ‐mah-tuh‐]
Definition: A figure of speech; written representation of the sound it imitates. e.g. Boom! Pow!
Why it’s difficult to pronounce: The letter t should be pronounced as a /d/ sound. The “poeia” ending of this word can be confusing due to the presence of three successive vowels.
Learn to speak English 3. exclamation
IPA Pronunciation Guide: /ˌɛk skləˈmeɪ ʃən/
Spelling Pronunciation Guide: ek-skluh-mey-shuh n]
Definition: A sudden cry. Usually, exclamations are sentences or expressions which end in an exclamation point (!).
Why it’s difficult to pronounce: The transition from the first syllable to the second can be burdensome because of the rapid succession of “k,” “s,” “k” sounds. It is made even more difficult by ending tion, which is pronounced as “shen”.
Learn to speak English 4. hyperbole
IPA Pronunciation Guide: /haɪˈpɜr bə li/
Spelling Pronunciation Guide: hahy-pur-buh-lee
Definition: A figure of speech which exaggerates things.
Why it’s difficult to pronounce: The first two syllables are easy to pronounce because “hyper” exists as a separate word. “Bole” however becomes difficult to pronounce because usually, words ending in “ole” are pronounced like the way you would the word “hole” or “role.” It therefore becomes tempting to pronounce hyperbole as “high-PER-bowl”.
Learn to speak English 5. simile
IPA Spelling Guide: /ˈsɪm ə li/
Spelling Pronunciation Guide: sim-uh-lee
Definition: A figure of speech which directly compares things.
Why it’s difficult to pronounce: Simile, upon first glance, looks like the word smile. Looking closer, notice there’s an “i” following the first letter. Although “si” might be accidentally pronounced as “see-”, the especially difficult part of this word can be found in the last two syllables. Second language learners may think of pronouncing words ending in “-ile” the way you would when pronouncing “mile,” “tile,” or “bile” which may result in the mistake of pronouncing this word as “si-MILE.”
Accent Pros Frequently Mispronounced Words Series
This is the first article in a series that will focus on the most commonly mispronounced words in the English language. If you’ve reached the end of the article and are surprised to find words you thought you were pronouncing correctly, don’t worry! There are a number of words in the English language that have had their pronunciation modified throughout the years due to the influence of regional dialects, tradition, and social media to name a few contributing factors. Keeping up with the ever evolving state of the English language has never been more important. Be sure to check out posts from our popular idioms series and stand alone topics. Are you ready for a complimentary accent reduction tutorial or a free foreign accent screening? Our on-line accent reduction courses are available to students with accent reduction goals all over the world. For consistent access to posts in our commonly mispronounced word series and other accent reduction tips, please Like us on Facebook or Follow us on Twitter.