Top 10 most commonly mispronounced places in the South West - and how to say them

The cobbled streets that wind towards the quay have been called a 'hellscape' by unhappy visitors
The cobbled streets of Clovelly -Credit:Emily Whitfield-Wicks

The South West, a region known for its picturesque towns and villages, is a popular destination for tourists across the UK. However, these charming locations often present a linguistic challenge for visitors attempting to pronounce their names correctly.

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

Preply, a language learning platform, has compiled a list of the top 10 most difficult place names to pronounce in the South West. The small town of Bovey Tracey, located on the edge of Dartmoor, tops the list.

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Once a thriving Saxon community, the town derives its name from the River Bovey. For those unfamiliar with the area, the correct local pronunciation is 'Buv-ee Tracey'.

Another location that often trips up visitors 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 Devon Live.

Despite having a population of just 2,644 people, the quaint village's Old English name can be daunting to pronounce for those unfamiliar with the area. 'Huish' originates from 'Hiwisc', meaning a household or unit of land, while 'Episcopi' signifies 'belonging to the Bishop of Wells'.

Huish Episcopi isn't the only location in the South West that can trip up the tongues of visitors; other small villages with tricky pronunciations include Southrop in Gloucestershire, which is correctly pronounced as 'Suth-rup', Iwerne Minster in Dorset, known as 'U-ern Minster', and the quaint harbour village of Clovelly in Devon, which should be said as 'Clo-vell-ee'.

Discussing the frequent mispronunciations, Sylvia Johnson, Head of Methodology at Preply, explained: "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."

She further elaborated on the intricacies by stating: "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 curious about other pronunciation conundrums, here's a glance 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')

There are many places in Cornwall that are difficult to pronounce. You can read some of the places tourists (and locals) struggle to pronounce on our sister site, here.