Top 10 most commonly mispronounced towns and villages include three in Gloucestershire

The West Country, with its myriad of charming towns and villages, attracts a significant number of tourists from across the UK. However, visitors often find themselves tongue-tied when attempting to pronounce the names of these locations correctly.

From Clifford's Mesne in Gloucestershire, to Huish Episcopi in Somerset, and Beaminster in Dorset to Brixham in Devon, there are several places in the region that can be quite challenging to articulate.

Language learning platform, Preply, has put together a list of the top 10 most difficult place names to pronounce in the South West. Topping this list is Bovey Tracey, a small town in Devon with a population of 6,236, according to the 2021 census.

Nestled on the edge of Dartmoor, in the heart of Devon, Bovey Tracey 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'.

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Another commonly incorrect pronunciation is Huish Episcopi in Somerset - which should actually be pronounced 'Hugh-ish A-pis-co-pee', rather than the more common attempt, 'Hugh-ish Epis-co-pie'.

The small village, home to just 2,644 people, certainly may seem quite intimidating to pronounce for non-locals, with the Old English name breaking down into 'Huish', deriving from 'Hiwisc' meaning a household, family, or measure of land, and 'Episcopi' meaning 'belonging to the Bishop of Wells'.

Meanwhile, other much smaller villages around the south-west that prove difficult to say correctly include Southrop in Gloucestershire (pronounced 'Suth-rup'), Iwerne Minster in Dorset (pronounced 'U-ern Minster'), and the privately owned harbour village of Clovelly, in Devon, which should be pronounced 'Clo-vell-ee'.

The most commonly mispronounced place names around the south-west - from Brixham to Beaminster
The most commonly mispronounced place names around the south-west - from Brixham to Beaminster -Credit:Preply

Sylvia Johsnon, Head of Methodology at Preply, 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.

“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.”

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')