Here at Pronunciation Studio we are the first to admit that English spelling can be very strange sometimes. Unfortunately some very common words are spelt very strangely, so here is our list of 10 of the worst offending examples and a guide to how to pronounce them.
1. Mortgage /ˈmɔːgɪdʒ/
Both the letters ‘r’ and ’t’ are silent in this word. As a suffix, ’age’ is pronounced as /ɪdʒ/.
2. Colonel /ˈkɜ:nəɫ/
The first ‘l’ in this word is silent. Neither ‘o’ should be pronounced with rounded lips.
3. Queue /kjuː/
Don’t try to pronounce all the vowels in the spelling in this word. Pronounce ‘queue’ the same way as the letter ‘q’ or ‘cue’ as in the stick used for playing snooker.
4. Genuinely /ˈdʒenjuɪnli/
This word contains just four syllables. Don’t forget the /j/ sound after the ’n’.
5. Language /ˈlæŋgwɪdʒ/
Here is another example of the spelling rule seen in mortgage! There is also a secret /w/ sound that needs to be pronounced.
6. Squirrel /ˈskwɪrəɫ/
The consonant cluster ‘squi’ is not common but can be quite tricky to pronounce. Try practising saying the two syllables (/skwɪ/ and /rəɫ/ ) separately first and then try putting them together.
7. Butcher /ˈbʊtʃə/
This word should not be pronounced in the same way as ‘but’. Instead, the first syllable should rhyme with ‘put’.
8. Epitome /ɪˈpɪtəmi/
Pronounce the ‘o’ as a schwa in this word, rather than a more rounded vowel.
9. Yoghurt /ˈjɒgət/
There is no pronounced /h/ in ‘yoghurt’. Pronounce the end with a schwa and a /t/ sound.
10. Choir /ˈkwaɪə/
‘ch’ is typically pronounced as /tʃ/ or /ʃ/ at the beginning of a word, although it is also quite likely to be pronounced with a /k/ sound. Other words spelt with ‘ch’ and pronounced with a /k/ sound include: christmas, chaos and chord.