Where in the world?

There are several YouTube videos, usually done by Americans (sorry, but that’s the truth) and usually with a title like “London place names everyone says wrong, even people who have lived in London for years”. Examples given include Holborn (Ho Born), Greenwich (Gren Itch) and Leicester Square (Less Ter Square).

So, let’s just discuss this for a second.

Just to point out, there are thousands upon thousands of place names that people don’t get wrong. I know sometimes people who do not speak English may have trouble with relatively simple things, like “Oxford”, but they get close enough to be understood.

It’s not true to say that no-one, even people who have lived here for years, gets them right. We are not stupid people. We learn.

It’s not a problem, not in London, England or the UK. And, of course, there are places in other countries, eg the USA, where the pronunciation is not obvious, so singling out London is unfair. La Jolla, Des Moines, Puyallup, Arkansas.

Also, we Londoners are reasonably helpful folk. Ask someone where a place is, and we will tell you if we can. Mispronounce a name and we won’t laugh at you, shame you or condemn you to hell. We may ask you to repeat it, simply because we are trying to understand exactly what you want. And we will correct you to be helpful.

I find videos like this to be unhelpful. They paint a picture of people that is unfair. We come over as stupid and intolerant, unhelpful and rude.

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