The most difficult words to pronounce in the English language

I read this article today about difficult pronunciations, don´t know how accurate it is but to non English speakers learning the language I can imagine it can be a painful process.


“Worcestershire”. “Choir”. “Sixth”. For some, these words may seem relatively normal and everyday – but to others, they represent an unrivalled linguistic challenge.

For almost two weeks, users of the online social platform reddit have been submitting what they consider to be “the hardest English word to pronounce”.

After more than 5,000 submissions, the message thread has become a fount of difficult vocabulary, with users from across the world sharing their favourites and personal experiences.

There are references to popular culture, some very creative tongue-twisters – and because of reddit’s points system, a rough consensus has emerged as to which are the hardest.

Here are the top 10:

10 – Rural

Submitted by user ‘mattythedog’, rural appears to cause problem particularly when repeated or put next a word with similar “r” sounds.

One user says: “I cannot say Rural Juror – comes out rurrrerr jerrrerr and sounds like I’m growling.”

A self-confessed Australian user says: “An aussie would pronounce it ‘ruhral jurah.”

“This one is entirely impossible for me as a German,” says another. “’Squirrel’ I can manage, but ‘rural’ can f*** right off.”

Best tongue-twister: “I want to be a juror on a rural brewery robbery case.”

9 – Otorhinolaryngologist

One user, going for a word largely on the basis of its length, suggests this medical term for an ear-, nose- and throat-doctor.

But, as another points out, “that one looks like a beast, but once you break it down, it’s pretty easy to say”.

User THLycanthrope says: “Once you know what it is, it’s much easier. “oto-rhino-laryng-ologist” is literally “ear-nose-throat-scientist”.

8 – Colonel

Submitted by a user who explains: “If you know that it’s pronounced “kernel”, it’s easy to pronounce. But if you were new to the English language and didn’t know that, you would never pronounce it correctly.”

Another offers the “fun fact” that: “We took the French spelling (spelled and pronounced with r) and the Italian pronunciation (also spelled with an l).”

7 – Penguin

An overt reference to Benedict Cumberbatch, one user offered this popular submission presumably as an excuse to re-watch this video of the actor voicing a BBC documentary on the South Pacific.

Other users, presumably sticking up for penguin-kind, then try to pronounce Cumberbatch’s name: “Barelyspeaks Cantpronounce”, “Bumpercar Clutchisburnt” and “Buffalo Custardbath” are among the offerings.

6 – Sixth

Coincidentally sixth in our list, this word is rather explicitly criticised as: “What kind of word is that with an S and xth sound? F*** that noise.”

Best tongue-twister: “The sixth sick sheik’s sixth sheep’s sick.”

One user responds: “English is my only language but f*** you this is impossible.”

Another says: “Imagine what ‘eighth’ is like to a non-English speaker. Not one letter is pronounced the way it should be.”

5 – Isthmus

Submitted presumably due to the difficulty of the “s” and “th” sounds together, it means a narrow strip of land with sea on either side that connects two larger landmasses.

“Ithmuth,” is one reddit user’s attempt.

4 – Anemone

Entered for consideration by one user who couldn’t even spell it, writing: “Annemm… amennome… annemmoneme… f***.”

Best tongue-twister: “In me, many an enemy anemone enema.”

Helpful advice provided by one user suggested: “I’d break it down like ‘Uh – Nem – Uh – Knee’.”

3 – Squirrel

One user says that: “From a foreign perspective, ‘Squirrel’ messes with German exchange students like you wouldn’t believe. To be fair though I can’t pronounce their word for it either.”

User ‘Torvaun’ provides the interesting (unverified) fact that during the Second World War, both sides apparently used each-other’s word for this small rodent as a test for spies.

“Interestingly,” Torvaun says, “in WWII ‘squirrel’ was used as a shibboleth by the English to detect Germans, and ‘Eichhörnchen’, the German word for squirrel, was used as a shibboleth to detect non-Germans.”

2 – Choir

User Kaktu submits: “As a foreign speaker: Choir. Seriously. Why?

Someone suggests helpfully that “it’s like ‘enquire’ but without the ‘en’”.

And bright spark ‘Gnat27’ says, to much popular acclaim: “I read that as ‘Enrique’ and was confused for a solid 5 minutes.”

1 – Worcestershire

The top submission, as one user puts it, “To the USA, anyway”.

“I’ve heard a few funny pronunciations,” says user ‘hornytoad69’. “Wor-kester-shire. Whats-dis-here. Wooster-shire”

One user suggests: “It’s that ‘-cest-’ in the middle that messes people up. If you break it up like worce-ster-shire, the pronunciation makes sense.”

Others suggest similar British place names that aren’t pronounced as they are written, developing a theme, with “Leicester/Leicestershire”, “Edinburgh” and “Derby” all getting a mention.

Ultraviolet light reveals hidden text in ancient book of Arthurian stories


Ancient book of Arthurian stories

Scholars in Wales have discovered that parts of one of the most important books in Welsh history was erased and some of the texts on its animal-skin pages overwritten. The book is titled The Black Book of Camarthen and includes Arthurian stories, Christian prayers and poetry.

A page from the Black Book of Camarthen

A page from the Black Book of Camarthen (National Library of Wales photo)

Merlin, Arthur, Cuchulainn, Uther Pendragon, the hero Gereint, the poet Taliesin, Cyridwen, Fairy King Gwyn ap Nudd and other figures of Dark Ages legend, myth and tall tale make appearances in the 750-year-old, 54-page book. It is the oldest known surviving book entirely in the Welsh language and has some of the earliest references to Myrddin (Merlin) and Arthur.

In Henry Gilbert’s King Arthur’s Knights: The Tales Retold for Boys and Girls, Arthur and Merlin appeal to the Lady of the Lake.

In Henry Gilbert’s King Arthur’s Knights: The Tales Retold for Boys and Girls, Arthur and Merlin appeal to the Lady of the Lake. (Wikimedia Commons)

The verse portrays Arthur and Myrddin (Merlin) before they were king and wise counselor to kings, respectively. In one poem, Arthur is a supplicant to enter the court of a king. Myrddin is a wild man driven mad in battle and extolling the virtues of trees.

Professor Paul Russell and Myriah Williams of the Cambridge Department of Anglo-Saxon, Norse and Celtic told Past Horizons that a man who owned the book in the 16th century, probably Jaspar Gryffyth, erased verse, doodles and marginalia that had been added to the manuscript over the centuries as it changed hands.

Using photo-editing software and ultraviolet light to examine the vellum pages, the scholars revealed poetry that is unknown in the Welsh canon. The poems are fragmentary, but they hope with further analysis they can read the text, which they think is the ending of a poem on a preceding page and a new poem at the bottom of the page.

Past Horizons quotes Williams as saying:

The margins of manuscripts often contain medieval and early modern reactions to the text, and these can cast light on what our ancestors thought about what they were reading. The Black Book was particularly heavily annotated before the end of the 16th century, and the recovery of erasure has much to tell us about what was already there and can change our understanding of it.

In the oldest known poem about Arthur, he seems to be the leader of a band of warriors seeking entrance to the court of a king. He tries to persuade a king to allow him to enter by extolling the virtues of his heroes:

Arthur distributed gifts,
The blood trickled down.
In the hail of Awarnach,
Fighting with a hag,
He cleft the head of Paiach.
In the fastnesses of Dissethach,
In Mynyd Eiddyn,
He contended with Cynvyn;
By the hundred there they fell,
There they fell by the hundred,
Before the accomplished Bedwyr.
On the strands of Trywruid,
Contending with Garwlwyd,
Brave was his disposition,
With sword and shield;
Vanity were the foremost men
Compared with Cai in the battle.
The sword in the battle
Was unerring in his hand.
They were stanch commanders
Of a legion for the benefit of the country- Bedwyr and Bridlaw;
Nine hundred would to them listen;
Six hundred gasping for breath
Would be the cost of attacking them.
Servants I have had,
Better it was when they were.

This is a translation of Old Welsh into modern English. The book can be read, except for a few chapters, at the Celtic Literature Collective. “Currently housed at the National Library in Wales, the Black Book of Carmarthen (Peniarth MS 1) is a manuscript dating to the middle of the thirteenth century. It is believed to have been the work of a single scribe at the Priory of St. John in Carmarthen,” says the Celtic Literature Collective introduction to the book.

The most treasured book in Welsh history

The most treasured book in Welsh history (National Library of Wales image)

In the prayer “A Skillful Composition,” the writer expresses how impossible it is to convey in language the power of God. An excerpt:

A skillful composition, the pattern being from God,
A composition, the language, beautiful and pleasant, from Christ.
And should there be a language all complete around the sun,
On as many pivots as there are under the seat,
On as many winged ones as the Almighty made,
And should every one have thrice three hundred tongues,
They could not relate the power of the Trinity.

The Celtic Literature Collection says of two poems attributed to Merlin, “The poems are often attributed to Myrddin, as one of his ‘prophetic’ poems made during his madness in Celydon.” Merlin had a “wild man” phase before he became the wise counselor of four British kings, though it’s possible Scottish stories of Lailoken were attached to Myrddin in the Middle Ages.

As a source for Myrddin as a wild man of the woods, the webpage Arthuriana: Myrddin/Merlin names several poems, including “The Apple Trees” and “The Dialogue of Myrddin and Taliesen” from the Black Book of Carmarthen. The webpage states:

“In most of these poems the subject – who is either named as Myrddin or is generally assumed to be him – is portrayed as a Wild Man of the Woods living in Coed Celyddon (the ‘Caledonian Forest’), where he has fled to after losing his reason (‘wandering with madness and madmen’) in the northern battle of Arfderydd, fought between rival chieftains c. 573 A.D.; with this lapse into madness Myrddin is said to have acquired the gift of prophecy. The antiquity of these traditions is however suspect, at least in their attachment to Myrddin. In Scottish sources there is a virtually identical tale of a Wild Man to that summarized above, but in these he is named Lailoken rather than Myrddin.”

Past Horizons calls the book a labor of love and says, “Despite its value today, the Black Book of Carmarthen (so called because of the color of its binding) was not an elaborate production, but rather the work of a single scribe who was probably collecting and recording over a long period of his life.”

Featured image: Under UV light, verse and images show up (National Library of Wales photo)

By Mark Miller

33 Of The Weirdest Children’s Books EVER!

source: EARTH PORM

Clean Reader it removes swear words and profanity from books

So I found this article today (yes I know I´m behind on the news) on the clean reader. What the hell is that? If you need that app you are reading the wrong books, if you need that for your kids, you are buying them the wrong books!

If you are a devout religious person and are easily offended with a few savoury words, stop buying naughty books and then talking bad about them. If your prude metre is higher than most I give you the same advice. In real life, you know the one that you wake up to everyday? well I have yet to meet one person who doesn´t at one point or another drop the F bomb or any other “stress alleviating vocabulary”

I must say that I find the people that defend these types of apps a bit disturbing, thank you so much for not being a part of my life. You would scare the shit out of me if I ever met you, extremists of any kind are dangerous and to be avoided.

I am sure that (good) authors inserted those (unacceptable) words after careful thought, whether they offend you or not, and whether you want to accept it or not, they do express emotions. So if you are looking for the more tender version like fiddlesticks… children´s section or YA should be your thing.

Banned Books Timeline: Where, When, And Why

Who the hell banishes Harry Potter and Charlotte´s Web? And where these people banning books when I was in school and had to read Shakespeare (without Shakespeare for Dummies available any where?) lays out a timeline to provide the context in which they banishment occurred. Get informed and have some laughs along the way.

banned books

Daniel Hahn´s list of the best eight young adult books and why grownups should read them

The title of the article in The Guardian is The best eight young adult books and why grownups should read them.

Daniel Hahn then goes on to say “Young adult writing today contains everything. The worst of it is as lim­ited as any bad writing, the best could thrill any readers willing to put them­selves in the hands of expert storytellers and great writers. Readers, that is, of any age.”

And while I know that there are excellent YA books out there I cannot bring myself to read them. I did read a few, when my daughter was younger, she would ask me for a book and afterwards I would read it as well. After the third time this happened I gave up reading YA, not because the books weren´t well written or because the story wasn´t interesting but I am just too old to endure YA dialogue. I just don´t have the patience and I always try to understand why adults love them so much.

Why does an adult enjoy a book that is intended for an age group that I have little or no patience for?

Anyway, if you are one of those weird adults that likes to read things intended for your kids, or your nieces and nephews (whatever) then here is the link to Daniel Hahn´s list of eight YA books everyone should read.

7 Taboos From a 17th-Century Coffeehouse


In the 17th century, London coffeehouses were evolving into consortiums of progressive academics, philosophers, doctors, and lawmakers, including historical heavyweights like Isaac Newton, Jonathan Swift, and Alexander Pope. A snapshot of this scene is captured by Paul Greenwod’s 1674 A Brief Description of the Excellent Vertues of that Sober and wholesome Drink, called Coffee, and its Incomparable Effects in Preventing or Curing Most Diseases incident to Humane Bodies which documents “The RULES and ORDERS of the Coffee-House.” Here are the rules that 17th-century London’s most progressive socialitesabided by when they needed a cup of joe.


Or, if you do have a foul mouth, you’d better have deep pockets to match.

To limit mens expence, we think not fair,
But let him forfeit Twelve-pence that shall Swear:


Much to the poetic patron’s dismay, disgruntled lovers would have to suffer elsewhere.

No Maudlin Lovers here in Corners Mourn,


Even though most coffeehouses were located next to churches and cathedrals, religion was off limits. Politics, on the other hand, was fair game. Benjamin Franklin frequently visited many London coffeehouses, where he brushed up on politics and social theory.

But all be Brisk, and Talk, but not too much
On Sacred things, Let none Presume to touch,
Nor profane Scripture, or sawcily wrong
Affairs of State with an Irreverent Tongue:


Take what you hear lightly. The ideas you’d hear may spark a revolution or they may just be the coffee talking. Either way, it’s all in good fun.

Let Mirth be Innocent, and each Man see,
That all his Jests without Reflection be;
To keep the House more Quiet, and from Blame,


Bets were made on gentlemen’s terms. They should be small and light-hearted.

We Banish hence Cards, Dice, and every game:
Nor can allow of Wagers, that Exceed
Five shillings, which oft-times much Trouble Breed;
Let all that’s lost, or forfeited, be spent
In such Good Liquour as the House does vent,


Drink as much as you please, but you were encouraged to head home to attend to more important matters (writing the laws of gravity, for instance).

And Customers endeavour to their Powers,
For to observe still seasonable Howers.


You and your wallet-straining addiction to caffeine are in good company—the best scholars of London struggled to resist a daily dose of coffee. Plus, coffeehouses were a center for community. Strangers were welcome, but regulars kept them churning out the good stuff.

Lastly let each Man what he calls for Pay,
And so you’re welcome to come every day.