Category Archives: pronunciation tips

Oktoberfest pronunciation tip

Yes, of course you can say “Oktoberfest,” and however you say it is going to be close enough, especially if you’re holding a stein or two. But how about Weltschmerz, Zeitgeist, Weltanschauung, Schadenfreude, Götterdämmerung, Wunderkind, gemütlich, Weissbier, and dunkel? (By the way, nouns are compulsorily capitalized in German, but adjectives aren’t.) Watch my latest video to find out!

Pronunciation tip: Southern Tier

I was in the Southern Tier of Western New York this past weekend – that’s where a lot of my ancestors over the past century and a half lived. You may wonder why you should care; the answer is that it’s really beautiful there. And it’s a big area, three times the size of Rhode Island. Most of the place names there aren’t too difficult to figure out (Portville, Jamestown, Dunkirk), but there are a few that might trip you up. So here’s a run-down of 16 of them that you might like to know before you go.

Pronunciation tip: Einojuhani Rautavaara and Arvo Pärt

In my latest pronunciation tip I look at why we’re so needlessly skittish about Finnish and Estonian names, and I illustrate with the names of two composers (of the hear-them-on-CBC-radio variety). The scary long one isn’t the hard part.

Pronunciation tip: Champagne houses

For this week’s pronunciation tip, I’m talking about the perfect breakfast beverage: Champagne. Here’s how to say the names of several of the great houses in Champagne: Taittinger, Moët et Chandon, Dom Pérignon, Bollinger, Billecart-Salmon, Drappier, Nicolas Feuillatte, Henriot, Jacquart, Jacquesson, Krug, Lanson, Laurent-Perrier, Mumm, Perrier-Jouët, Piper-Heidsieck, Pol Roger, Pommery, Louis Roederer, Ruinart, and Veuve Clicquot Ponsardin; also Reims, Épernay, and Dizy.

Oh – and if you’re thinking about visiting Champagne (or just want to know what it’s like), I have 21 tips for you.

Boston pronunciation tip: Quincy Market and Faneuil Hall

I lived in Boston for several years in the ’90s. I was back briefly recently, so I took the opportunity to make a quick pronunciation tip. Most things in Boston present no pronunciation challenges, but there are a couple worth knowing…

Pronunciation tip: Kilkenny

I first learned the name of this city in southeast Ireland from a limerick (ironically). Then I knew it as the name of an ale. Then, for some reason, I started hearing people say it as though it were a modified version of Kokanee, with the stress on the first syllable.

People. People. Here is how to say it, for heaven’s sake. Also how to drink it.

Oh, and for more Irish pronunciation tips, see Pronunciation tip: Sláinte, Céad míle fáilte and Pronunciation tip: more Irish.

Pronunciation tip: bergamot

Have a nice cup of Earl Grey tea (probably made by Twinings, but your choice). Now tell me: what’s it flavoured with? Yes, bergamot, but do you know how to say bergamot? For that matter, are you sure you know how to say Twinings? (Bonus: How about Evelyn Waugh?) Here’s my latest pronunciation tip video to get you sorted right.