27 English Words Malaysians Always Pronounce Wrongly

Think you know all there is to know about the English language? Here are 27 words that you were pronouncing wrong all along!

Updated 17 May 2019

27 English Words Malaysians Always Pronounce Wrongly - Feature-Image

As English is the most widely spoken language in the world after Mandarin and Spanish, it’s no wonder that many people around the world are trying to improve their English proficiency.

But with so many words in the English dictionary, it’s easy to mispronounce some of them — especially the ones that we use every day. Luckily for you, we’re here to right that wrong so that you can sound like a learned fellow amongst your friends!

#1. Abalone

You may be pronouncing it: eh-buh-lohn / ay-ber-lon / ah-buh-lone

What it actually is: ab-uh-LOH-nee (listen here)

Unlike many other English words, the “e” is not silent. Just think do-re-mi, ab-uh-loh-nee.

#2. Açai

You may be pronouncing it: ah-chai / ack-ah-ee / ah-kai / ah-sai

What it actually is: ah-sah-ee (listen here)

This trendy superfood with Portuguese origins contains a fancy “ç” but don’t let that fool you. Break up this 4-letter word into 3 syllables and you’re golden.

#3. Almond

You may be pronouncing it: al-mund

What it actually is: ah-muhnd (listen here)

Many people trip up with the pronunciation of this nutritious nut. Despite its presence, the letter “l” should be silent.

#4. Cache

You may be pronouncing it: kat-cheh / ka-SHAY / catch

What it actually is: kash (listen here)

Note how the “ch” is pronounced like “sh” with a silent “e” behind. Similar words with the same rules include “moustache” and “quiche”.

#5. Coup

You may be pronouncing it: koop

What it actually is: koo (listen here)

This is another word where the final letter “p” should be ignored. Seriously, who makes these rules?

#6. Divorce

You may be pronouncing it: dai-vors

What it actually is:  dih-vohrs (listen here)

A divorce is clearly a painful experience but there’s no need to “die” about it. Let’s stick with “dih-vohrs”, shall we?

#7. Entrepreneur

You may be pronouncing it: ehn-tree-pre-ner

What it actually is: ahn-truh-pruh-nur (listen here)

English words derived from French are always tricky since they are never pronounced as how they’re spelled. But once you get the hang of it, it’ll be rolling off your tongue in no time!

#8. Espresso

You may be pronouncing it: ex-preh-so

What it actually is: ehs-preh-so (listen here)

It’s certainly quick and express to drink this coffee given its small serving. Soothe the emotions of coffee fanatics by axing the “ex” and saying it with an “ehs” instead.

#9. February

You may be pronouncing it: feb-yoo-er-ri

What it actually is: feb-roo-er-ree (listen here)

Pronouncing the “roo” after “feb” isn’t easy, which is why “feb-yoo-er-ri” has become commonplace. However, if you want to be precise, it should be “feb-roo-er-ree”.

#10. Film

You may be pronouncing it: fee-lum / fluhm / flihm

What it actually is: fihlm (listen here)

It’s no surprise why this word can be mispronounced, especially since the Malay translation is filem. Just remember to keep it to 1 syllable and the “i” before “l” and you’ll be all good!

#11. Flour

You may be pronouncing it: flahr

What it actually is: flou-er (listen here)

Instead of saying it as “flahr” in 1 syllable, it should sound like “flower”. This goes for both British and American pronunciation. Don’t worry, we’ve been saying it wrongly all this while too!

#12. Jewellery

You may be pronouncing it: jool-uh-ree / joo-wehl-ler-ree

What it actually is: jool-ree  (listen here)

This beautiful word that depicts decorative items originates from French, which explains why the word itself is just as decorative with many silent letters.

#13. Lettuce

You may be pronouncing it: let-yous

What it actually is: let-is (listen here)

This leafy vegetable shouldn’t sound like “produce” or “reduce”. Rather, it should be “let-is” or a close variation, “let-us”.

#14. Library

You may be pronouncing it: lai-ber-ri

What it actually is: lai-brer-ree (listen here)

Many Malaysians miss out on the “r” in this nerdy word, but hopefully not you!

#15. Lingerie

You may be pronouncing it: lin-jer-ree

What it actually is: lahn-zhuh-RAY / lahn-zhuh-REE (listen here)

Yet another word originating from French that seems to slip people up. Although this provocative word looks similar to the word “linger”, it’s pronunciation is nowhere the same!

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#16. Meme

You may be pronouncing it: mee-mee / mehm / may-may

What it actually is: meem (listen here)

The pronunciation of this 1 syllable-word is less complicated than you think.

#17. Often

You may be pronouncing it: off-tuhn

What it actually is: off-en (listen here)

How often (meaning many times) have you pronounced this word without its silent “t”?

#18. Pizza

You may be pronouncing it: pee-za

What it actually is: peet-sa / pit-sa (listen here)

This Italian word for pie is making us hungry, the more we listen to its pronounciation.

#19. Porsche

You may be pronouncing it: porsh / por-shay

What it actually is: por-shuh (listen here)

Because this luxurious German sports car calls for a fancy name.

#20. Probably

You may be pronouncing it: proh-lee / prob-lee / prah-ba-blee

What it actually is: prob-eb-lee (listen here)

Trying to pronounce this word probably (meaning likely to be true) annoys you a lot.

#21. Quinoa

You may be pronouncing it: kee-no-ah

What it actually is: keen-wah / ki-nwa (listen here)

Although hard to pronounce, this healthy food (seeds of a South American plant) is oh-so good for you.

#22. Restaurant

You may be pronouncing it: res-tor-rant

What it actually is: res-tront / res-ter-rahnt (listen here)

This is another word that doesn’t sound how it appears to be, but hopefully the menu at the “restaurant” you go to next is less misleading.

#23. Salmon

You may be pronouncing it: sal-mund / sal-mon

What it actually is: SAM-uhn / SAM-on (listen here)

This fish is known for its healthy pink flesh, but unfortunately, everyone forgets about its silent letter “l”.

#24. Subtle

You may be pronouncing it: sub-tuhl

What it actually is: suh-tuhl (listen here)

The silent letter “b” here is more than subtle (meaning not loud or obvious), it’s invisible.

#25. Tuition

You may be pronouncing it: too-shen

What it actually is: too-ISH-shun (listen here)

This word has 2 meanings — tutoring given to a student or group and money paid for being taught.

#26. Vineyard

You may be pronouncing it: vayn-yard / wine-yard

What it actually is: vin-yerd / vin-yard (listen here)

Although the word “wine” might pop into your mind when you think of a vineyard, the start of this word should actually be pronounced vin (rhyming with win) not wine.

#27. Wednesday

You may be pronouncing it: wed-nuhs-dey

What it actually is: wenz-dey (listen here)

This is another tricky word! Be sure to remember that the first “d” and second “e” in Wednesday is always silent.

Bet you weren’t expecting that, were you? While we understand that English can be a complicated language, you can still be a fluent speaker with the right help! Remember, practice makes perfect, so the more you pronounce these words on a regular basis, the faster you’ll be able to master it.

Do you want to better your command of the English language? Try out these 13 simple ways you can improve your English.

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    Natasha Sin

    Natasha Sin

    I went outside once. That was before Netflix.