It looks like just about everyone had trouble getting a few choice words correct this year.
Language-learning app Babbel commissioned the U.S. Captioning Company “to identify the prominent and topical words of 2019 that commonly proved challenging for newsreaders and people on television to pronounce correctly.”
The list of words contains names of some of the most popular people of 2019. U.S. women’s national team superstar and World Cup champion Megan Rapinoe is included, as is Time magazine’s person of the year, teenage climate change activist Greta Thunberg. South Bend, Indiana, Mayor Pete Buttigieg, a Democratic presidential candidate, is on the list, too.
“Our world grows more global with each passing year and our mispronounced words reflect this,“ Babbel’s English Editor in Didactics Ted Mentele said in a statement.
“In 2019, America’s news anchors and TV hosts have been grappling with Japanese lifestyle trends, Scandinavian activists, and French cathedrals, all of which are bound to lead to some tricky pronunciations — foreign proper names always have a lot of nuance (hence the fact they’re also often mispronounced).”
In fact, of the 10 words on the lists, only two are just words, as opposed to hard-to-pronounce names or places. The first is “deter.” The second is “tokimeku,” which, according to Babbel, is Japanese for “to flutter.”
Here’s Babbel’s list of 2019’s hardest words to pronounce and their pronunciations from Babbel, with pronunciation notes from Mentele:
Chernobyl (chair-nOHble) - The site of the largest man-made disaster in history in 1986. Also an acclaimed HBO miniseries.
Deter (dee-tUHR) - To discourage an action by instilling fear of the consequences. President Donald Trump talked about using “toughness” to deter migration to the U.S. in May, according to Babbel.
Greta Thunberg (grAY-tah tOOn-bairk) - Time magazine’s 2019 Person of the Year. 16-year-old Swedish climate change activist and the youngest person ever named Time’s Person of the Year.
Pronunciation notes: “The final ‘g’ in ‘Thunberg’ is typically softened by Swedish speakers into something like ‘yeh’ in English: ‘tOOn-bairyeh’”
Megan Rapinoe (ruh-PEE-noh) - American soccer star who helped lead the U.S women’s national team to victory during July’s FIFA Women’s World Cup. She earned the Golden Boot for most goals scored and the Golden Ball as the competition’s best player.
Notre Dame (nOH-truh dAHm) - Cathedral in Paris, France, which dealt with a devastating fire in April. Hundreds of millions of dollars in donations poured in to help with a rebuild.
Pronunciation notes: “the ‘r’ in ‘Notre’ is articulated near the back of the mouth, and is nearly silent”
Pete Buttigieg (pEEt bUt-ij-ij) - Mayor of South Bend, Indiana, and one of the Democratic candidates for the 2020 presidential election.
Pronunciation notes: “The ‘u’ in ‘Buttigieg’ should be pronounced like the vowel in ‘book’, and the following ‘i’ vowels as in ‘bit’“
Rami Malek (rAH-mee mA-lik) - Actor who won the Academy Award for Best Actor for his portrayal of Freddie Mercury in “Bohemian Rhapsody.”
Pronunciation notes: “The actor himself pronounces the vowel in ‘Malek’ like the ‘a’ in ‘bat’”
Recep Tayyip Erdogan (rE-jep tAH-yep AIR-doh-wahn) - The president of Turkey, whose relationship with President Donald Trump was discussed heavily after Trump pulled U.S. troops from northern Syria.
Pronunciation notes: “The ‘g’ in ‘Erdogan’ is pronounced softly and far back in the mouth, so that it almost sounds like the ‘w’ in ‘won’”
Tekashi 6ix9ine (te-kAH-shee siks naYn) - American rapper and songwriter who in February pleaded guilty to charges related to racketeering.
Tokimeku (toh-kee-mE-koo) - Japanese word literally translated as “to flutter,“ according to Babbel.