10 areas Londoners pronounce wrongly including posh part of Mayfair and how to say them

Some parts of London are a bit of a tongue-twister
-Credit: (Image: Getty Images)

The 10 hardest places to pronounce in London have been named and some of them are so tricky they're even tripping locals up. A language expert has looked at why the place names are so hard to pronounce and shared how we should be saying them.

The list includes some well-known London areas as well as a posh part of Mayfair that you've probably been saying wrong for years. With silent letters and sounds that catch you off guard, it’s no wonder people often stumble on them.

Sylvia Johnson, Head of Methodology at language learning platform, Preply, comments, “A key reason some streets, towns, and even parks are more challenging to pronounce than others is the result of historical linguistic evolution. Several place names often reflect a mix of old languages such as Old English, Norman, Norse, and Celtic, which have unique letter combinations that don’t follow typical pronunciation rules.

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Aldwych is the name of a bustling city centre street
Aldwych is the name of a bustling city centre street

“On top of this, variations in local dialects also contribute to the complexity of pronouncing certain place names, which make them tricky to pronounce correctly even for English speakers who are unfamiliar with the region.”

To lend a helping hand, the team at Preply has developed a useful guide to set the record straight on some of the capital city’s most commonly mispronounced places.

Aldwych, City of Westminster

Correct pronunciation - “Aul-dwitch”

Incorrect pronunciation - “Al-ditch”

Aldwych is the name of a bustling city centre street and the area immediately surrounding it in the City of Westminster.

Unlike other locations in London, such as Dulwich or Greenwich, the ‘w’ should be pronounced in ‘Aldwych’, with emphasis on the first syllable, making it sound like 'AUL-dwitch.'

Magdalen Road, Wandsworth

Correct pronunciation - “Mawd-lin Road”

Incorrect pronunciation - “Mag-da-len Road”

Magdalen Road is located in the south London suburb of Earlsfield within the London Borough of Wandsworth.

The pronunciation of this street name typically trips people up due to the pesky silent ‘g’ and should be pronounced ‘Mawd-lin’.

Carshalton, Sutton

Correct pronunciation - “Car-shawl-tun”

Incorrect pronunciation - “Carsh-aual-ton”

Carshalton is located in south London within the London Borough of Sutton. It is made up of several smaller districts and villages, such as Carshalton Village and High Street, Carshalton Beeches, and Carshalton On The Hill.

Sylvia highlights, “When pronouncing this picturesque town, the ‘shal’ in the middle of the word should sound like ‘shawl’ - like the garment”.

Erith, Bexley

Correct pronunciation - “Ee-rith”

Incorrect pronunciation - “Eh-rith”

Erith is an area in south-east London and although it looks like a simple town name to pronounce, it can often trip people up who are not from the area.

Sylvia explains, “The first syllable should be pronounced like ‘ee’ as in ‘see’, with the second half of the name rhyming with ‘myth’”.

Cubitt Town, Tower Hamlets

Correct pronunciation - “Kew-bit Town”

Incorrect pronunciation - “Kub-it Town”

Cubitt Town, a district on the eastern side of the Isle of Dogs, is another tricky place name that catches people off guard as they tend to say it as they see it.

However, the first part of the word should sound like ‘Kew’ rhyming with ‘Dew’, rather than the ‘Cu’ being pronounced like ‘cub’.

Mayow Park, Lewisham

Correct pronunciation - “May-oh Park”

Incorrect pronunciation - “May-ow Park”

Formerly known as Sydenham Recreation Ground, Mayow Park is located in Sydenham within the London Borough of Lewisham.

“The ‘w’ at the end of the word is silent, which may not be obvious to people unfamiliar with this park, as it should actually be pronounced ‘May-oh’ - like the condiment!” Sylvia states.

Grosvenor Square, Westminster

Correct pronunciation - “Grove-na Square”

Incorrect pronunciation - “Grohs-ven-or Square”

Grosvenor Square is a large garden square in Mayfair and takes its name from the Duke of Westminster’s surname, ‘Grosvenor’.

The pronunciation of this park is regularly met with confusion. Sylvia explains, “This is likely due to the ‘s’ being silent and the ‘e’ vowel in the second syllable being an unstressed vowel sound known as a ‘schwa’”.

The City of Westminster is the most expensive borough in London
Carshalton is located in south London

Cadogan Square, Knightsbridge

Correct pronunciation - “Ca-dug-un Square”

Incorrect pronunciation - “Ca-doe-gan Square”

Cadogan Square in Knightsbridge is famous for being one of the most expensive residential streets in the United Kingdom.

“Due to its spelling, those unfamiliar with this area might struggle to pronounce it correctly as they intuitively want to pronounce it as it is spelt, stressing the ‘doe’ syllable in the middle of the word, which should be pronounced like ‘dug’.” Explains Sylvia.

Ruislip, Hillingdon

Correct pronunciation - “Rye-slip”

Incorrect pronunciation - “Roo-e-slip”

This West London town name looks a lot trickier to pronounce than it actually is.

Sylvia notes, “When it comes to the pronunciation of certain words, people often apply pronunciation rules of other familiar words with similar spellings.

“For example, seeing ‘Rui’ at the start of ‘Ruislip’ may make non-locals think it’s pronounced similarly to the word ‘ruin’, but it’s actually pronounced ‘Rye’, like the bread”.

Grosvenor Square is a large garden square in Mayfair -Credit:Getty Images
Grosvenor Square is a large garden square in Mayfair -Credit:Getty Images

Cholmondeley Walk, Richmond upon Thames

Correct pronunciation - “Chum-lee Walk”

Incorrect pronunciation - “Chol-mon-del-ee Walk”

Cholmondeley Walk is in the London Borough of Richmond upon Thames and runs along the world-famous River Thames.

Sylvia states, “Cholmondeley is often mispronounced as ‘chol-mon-dell-ee’, as people try to say it as it’s spelt. However, it should be pronounced ‘Chum-lee’.

“This discrepancy is due to the name originating from old English and its subsequent evolution over time.”

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