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Phenomenon of unpronounceables

Phenomenon, remuneration and statistics have topped a list of the most commonly mispronounced words.

Speakers also have a problem getting their tongue around ethnicity, hereditary and particularly, according to the body charged with recording public utterances.

The British Institute Of Verbatim Reporters (BIVR) is the UK's leading organisation for professionals involved in taking down speech at court and tribunal hearings.

A poll of its members found 10 words Britons consistently find the most challenging to pronounce. Completing the list are conjugal, specific, processes and development.

Leah Willersdorf, of the BIVR, said: "We work with many different types of professionals and hear all kinds of voices during our work. However, when it comes to the English language it always seems to be the same few words that trip people up, with the speaker having to repeat the word or just abandoning their attempts and moving on."

BIVR members were quizzed by the team behind the popular word game Scrabble. According to the word buffs, one in 10 players was reluctant to play words that they cannot pronounce.

Scrabble is a favourite with British families over the festive period. Its makers estimate 11 million people will play it on Boxing Day.

Professor Paul Kerswill, a sociolinguistics expert at the University of York said: "People always find a way of simplifying words they find difficult so that an everyday word like 'handbag' sounds like 'hambag'. And most people talk about 'Febry' and 'Wensday'."

Contextual targeting label: 
Education

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