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Omicron, Dogecoin, Billie Eilish: 2021’s Most Mispronounced Words

The list for 2021’s most commonly mispronounced words is out.

A survey has identified which words and names were the most tricky for newsreaders and people on TV to pronounce this year.

It was compiled by the US Captioning Company, which provides subtitles for live events on TV and in courtrooms.

They found Omicron had proven especially challenging.

The new Covid variant, named after the Greek letter O, is supposed to be pronounced “OH-mee-kraan” or “AH-muh-kraan”, depending if you are in the UK or the US, according to the list.

And many newsreaders were also mispronouncing pop singer Billie Eilish’s last name, which is said like “EYE-lish”.

The other names are:

•Glasgow (GLAHZ-go) the host city of the COP26 climate conference was also mispronounced by both Joe Biden and Barack Obama
•Stefanos Tsitsipas (STEH-fuh-nohs TSEE-tsee-pas) the world number four tennis player who reached this year’s French Open final
•Cheugy (CHOO-gee) a slang term used to describe, and dismiss, anything seen as hopelessly uncool or unfashionable
•Yassify (YEAH-sih-fai) a popular beauty filter trend
•Ever Given (Ev-er GIV-en) the name of the ship that blocked the Suez Canal was often mistaken for “Evergreen”, the company who owned the vessel whose name was printed on its side
•Dogecoin (DOHJ-coin) the cryptocurrency popularised by Elon Musk

Last year’s batch included the surname of US infectious disease expert Anthony Fauci and the first name of US Vice-President Kamala Harris (CAW-ma-la).

The survey was commissioned by language learning app Babbel. Esteban Touma, a Babbel Live teacher, believes one reason for the mispronunciations is that many of the words aren’t English.

“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 says.

“And as a non-native speaker, I must confess it’s fun to see English speakers stumbling a bit for a change.”