South West's top 10 most commonly mispronounced places

Bovey Tracey's high-street is filled with independent businesses
Bovey Tracey -Credit:Zhara Simpson

The South West is a region brimming with picturesque towns and villages that attract tourists from all over the UK. However, these beautiful locations often pose a linguistic challenge for visitors trying to pronounce their names correctly.

From Clovelly to Clifford's Mesne, and Beaminster to Brixham, there are several spots in the region that can be quite a tongue twister.

Language learning platform, Preply, has put together a list of the top 10 most difficult place names to pronounce in the South West. Topping the list is Bovey Tracey. Nestled on the edge of Dartmoor, the small town was once a thriving Saxon community and derives its name from the River Bovey. For those unfamiliar, the correct local pronunciation is 'Buv-ee Tracey'.


Another frequently mispronounced location is Huish Episcopi in Somerset. The correct pronunciation is 'Hugh-ish A-pis-co-pee', not the commonly attempted 'Hugh-ish Epis-co-pie', reports Bristol Live.

The quaint village, with a population of just 2,644 people, is daunting to pronounce for those unfamiliar with the area, its Old English name dissected into 'Huish' - originating from 'Hiwisc', meaning a household or unit of land - and 'Episcopi', signifying 'belonging to the Bishop of Wells'.

Yet, Huish Episcopi isn't the only place in the South West that leaves tongues tied; other diminutive villages include Southrop in Gloucestershire (pronounced 'Suth-rup'), Iwerne Minster in Dorset (pronounced 'U-ern Minster'), along with the private harbour village of Clovelly in Devon, correctly pronounced as 'Clo-vell-ee'.

Speaking about the common pronunciation pitfalls, Head of Methodology at Preply, Sylvia Johnson, said: "A key reason some streets, villages, and even rivers 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."

Adding further complexity, she noted: "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."

For those wondering about other pronunciation puzzles, lets take a look at the top ten most commonly mispronounced places in the South West.

The ten most commonly mispronounced places in the South West

  1. Bovey Tracey, Devon - pronounced 'Buv-ee Tracey' (incorrectly pronounced (Bow-vee Tracey')

  2. Huish Episcopi, Somerset - pronounced 'Hugh-ish A-pis-co-pee' (incorrectly pronounced 'Hugh-ish Epis-co-pie')

  3. Southrop, Gloucestershire - pronounced 'Suth-rup' (incorrectly pronounced 'South-rop')

  4. Beaminster, Dorset - pronounced 'Beh-muhn-stuh' (incorrectly pronounced 'Bee-minster')

  5. Clovelly, Devon - pronounced 'Clo-vell-ee' (incorrectly pronounced 'Cluv-lee')

  6. Clifford's Mesne, Gloucestershire - pronounced 'Clifford's Meen' (incorrectly pronounced 'Clifford's Mes-nee')

  7. Worle, Somerset - pronounced 'Whirl' (incorrectly pronounced 'Worl-ee')

  8. Iwerne Minster, Dorset - pronounced 'U-ern Minster' (incorrectly pronounced 'I-wern Minster')

  9. Michaelwood, Gloucestershire - pronounced 'Mickle-wood' (incorrectly pronounced 'Michael-wood')

  10. Brixham, Devon - pronounced 'Brik-sum' (incorrectly pronounced 'Brix-ham')

Cornwall has a very long list of place names of its own that are tricky to pronounce. Read more about that on our sister site CornwallLive here.