2021’s 13 Most Mispronounced Words Include Billie Eilish’s Last Name, ‘Squid Game’ Treat + More
Billie Eilish had 2021 on lock. She dominated the charts with her sophomore album, co-hosted the Met Gala and had an all-around solid year, which guaranteed that her name stayed in the news. However, some people apparently had a pretty hard time pronouncing her last name.
No, it's not pronounced Billie "Eye-lash," despite what you may have heard on the news. The proper pronunciation of the hit-maker's surname is actually "EYE-lish." This is just one of the 13 most commonly mispronounced words of 2021.
The U.S. Captioning Company compiled the most challenging words of the year, according to the Associated Press.
The list, which was commissioned by a language-learning platform called Babbel, was determined via a survey. An apparent trend emerged from the results: New words (and even a handful of older ones) are hard to pronounce correctly.
“Newscasters in the U.S. have struggled with 2021′s new words and names while reporting on key sporting events, viral internet trends and emerging celebrities,” Esteban Touma, a teacher for Babbel Live, told AP.
“As a language teacher, it’s always interesting to see that some of these terms are usually new colloquialisms, or are rooted or borrowed from another language,” he added. “As a non-native speaker, I must confess it’s fun to see English speakers stumbling a bit for a change.”
What are some of the other words on the list?
Let's start with a Korean treat that was featured on Netflix's hit show Squid Games. Yes, we're talking about dalgona. According to Touma, you do not pronounce the "d" in dalgona. The appropriate pronunciation is actually "tal-goh-NAH."
There are a couple other celebrity names that made the cut alongside Eilish. Both belong to famous athletes: football player Jason Kelce (KELs), and tennis pro Stefanos Tsitsipas (STEH-fuh-nohs TSEE-tsee-pas).
This year, everyone rushed to determine if they were "cheugy" (CHOO-gee) and to learn how to "yassify" (YEAH-sih-fai) their pics on social media in 2021. (Here's a handy guide if you haven't figured out the perfect yassification process yet.)
2021 also saw a rise in the popularity of cryptocurrency, which means that there was also a rise in people not being able to pronounce some of the most popular new forms of cashflow. Dogecoin is not "dog-coin," but rather "DOHJ-coin." Another tongue-twister? Ethereum (ih-THEE-ree-um).
There were also some famous brands on the list. You've likely seen a Shein haul on social media by now, but did you know the company's name is pronounced "SHEE-in"? If not, now you do!
Another surprising addition to the list? Chipotle. Even though the restaurant has been a staple in American diets for years now, some folks still struggle with the name. Here's a handy reminder: It's "chih-POHT-lay."
Speaking of some surprising additions, people had a hard time with the name of the boat that wound up lodged in the Suez Canal, the Ever Given. They also struggled with pronunciation of the Scottish city Glasgow (GLAHZ-go). We learn new things every day!
Let's cap things off with the most recent addition to the list: Omicron (AH-muh-kraan / OH-mee-kraan). Previous variants of COVID-19 (such as Delta) have been arguably easier to pronounce so it's understandable to be a little lost on this one.
Hopefully next time you have to bring any of these words up, you'll know how to sound it out!