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Acai, quinoa, bouillabaisse: here's how to say the 20 most commonly mispronounced foreign foods

Posted by Ellen Stewart in offbeat

It is a little known fact* that the British middle classes often wake in the middle of the night, drenched in a cold sweat after having another one of those reoccurring supermarket nightmares.

The one in which you just can't seem to find those edamame beans you love so dearly. You search the shelves. All the aisles. But no, you're going to have to ask someone for help.

Problem is, you're not sure how to pronounce 'edamame' correctly. Try as you may the word just won't come to you. The shop assistant looks at you as if you're some sort of monster. And when you finally make an utterance, it's totally wrong. Everyone is laughing. And then, all of a sudden, you're naked in an exam hall.

But now you can sleep easy, thanks to the Co-operative and the Oxford English Dictionary (OED), who have teamed up to identify the top 20 most commonly mispronounced foreign foods and produce a definitive guide on how exactly to pronounce them.

When a new food or drink becomes popular, we keep an eye on how its name gets adapted into English.

Some speakers will want to say the name in a completely authentic manner, matching the original language, and other speakers will be influenced by the spelling or prefer to anglicise the sounds. In the dictionary, we give pronunciations that are accurate and also reflect the reality of how the word is being spoken.

  • Catherine Sangster, head of pronunciation at the OED

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Bay scallop ceviche with avacado, cilantro and pickled red onion (Picture: Getty)

Breige Donaghy, head of product development at Co-op Food said: "We know through research that our customers... are unsure of how to pronounce these food products correctly. We want to make it easier for customers to ask for a product without feeling embarrassed."

So here it is, in all its glory:

1. Tzatziki - tsat-si-key

2. Bouillabaisse - boo-yah-behss

3. Ceviche - seh-bee-tche

4. Parmigiano Reggiano - par-mee-djah-no rehd-djah-no

5. Edamame - ed-a-mar-mei

6. Acai - ah-sigh-ee

7. Nicoise - ni-swaz

8. Chipotle - chi-poat-lay

9. Manchego - man-chay-go

10. Prosciutto - pro-shoot-tow

11. Crudites - krew-dee-tay

12. Gnocchi - nyohk-kee

13. Quinoa - keen-wah

14. Habanero - habe-a-ne-reu

15. Maraschino - ma-ra-skeeno

16. Bouillon - bo-yon

17. Rioja - ree-o-ha

18. Halloumi - ha-lu-mi

19. Anise - an-is

20. Guacamole - gwah-kah-moh-leh


** not a fact. We just made it up.


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