Food, glorious, food. Not only is it so damn tasty, it can also introduce you to new flavours, cultures and words. Unfortunately, the Australian tongue is known for being lazy so sadly, the names of many foods, most from different cultures, are butchered beyond repair. Let’s take a look at some of the worst instances.
Australia is a big, diverse nation so it's not that outlandish to think one end of the country has a different name for certain things compared to the other. Here are some of the most ridiculous examples.Read more
Congrats if you already know the correct pronunciation for these foods. You get three gold stars and the honour of being the winner — please do the honour of educating those near and dear to you. For those who aren’t sure, there’s no shame. We’re all here to learn a thing or two.
Without further ado, here are some of the culprits, how they’re usually pronounced and how they should be said.
Açaí (/əˈsaɪ.i/), a Portuguese word, is sometimes pronounced with a hard ‘c’. It’s more like ah-sah-ee.
Bruschetta (/bruːˈskɛtə/) is commonly mispronounced as broo-shetta by well-meaning foodies. It’s Italian and that means the combo of sch is a hard ‘c’ sound. It’s pronounced as broo-sketta.
Cappuccino (/ˌkæpʊˈtʃiːnoʊ/ ) is not completely butchered given how common it’s uttered in Australia. Instead of cuppa-chino, it’s cap-pu-chino.
Charcuterie (/ʃɑːrˌkuːtəˈriː/) might look like a bit of a tongue twister for the native English speaker but the French word is actually quite simple. It’s pronounced sha-koo-ter-ee.
Chorizo is pronounced slightly differently in Spain and Latin America. In Spain, where it originates, it’s pronounced cho-di-tho. In Latin America, it’s cho-di-sso.
Espresso (/ɛˈsprɛsoʊ/) is commonly given an imaginary ‘x’ by some Australians. It’s pronounced es-press-oh.
Fillet (/filɛ/) is originally a French word so it’s supposed to be pronounced fil-lay. Look, we might be being a bit precious about this one – and Macca’s might give you a weird look if you order a Fil-lay-O-Fish in your local store.
Focaccia (/foˈkattʃa/) has apparently been pronounced as fuck-a-chi-a by someone in our workplace so it is definitely deserving of a spot here. It’s usually pronounced by Australians as foe-carsh-ya but technically, it should be pronounced the Italian way — foe-carch-chya.
Gözleme is an Australian favourite at fairs and festivals but we’ve heard everything from goz-leem to goz-lemmy. For the record, it’s pronounced goz-ler-meh in Turkish.
Gnocchi (/ˈɲɔkki/) is objectively delicious but if you don’t speak Italian, it’s a bit difficult to figure out what sounds to pronounce. The ‘gn’ translates to a ‘nyeh’ sound in English and the ‘cch’ equals a ‘k’ sound. It’s pronounced nyo-ki.
Gyoza is Japan’s answer to the humble dumpling. I’ve heard kai-yo-za so let’s set the record straight — geh-yo-za. As pointed out by some readers, the Japanese sound is actually a quick blend of geh-yor but as this sound isn’t common in English, do your best to listen to a native speaker say it and imitate the sound.
Jalapeños (/xalaˈpeɲo/) is a Spanish word for a spicy favourite. In Spanish, a ‘j’ is pronounced as a throaty ‘kha’ sound and the ‘ñ’ is similar to the Italian ‘gn’ combo. That means it’s supposed to pronounced as kha-la-pen-yo.
Karaage chicken (/kaɾaːɡe/) is another Japanese favourite for fried chicken. Don’t pronounce it as the English word ‘carriage’, it’s supposed to be ka-ra-ah-ge.
Moët (/moɛt/) is a boujee beverage for the boujee Australian. Sound rich by calling it mo-eh, instead of mo-ett. Update (21/01/2020): As some users have pointed out, while the brand is French, the name is Dutch. This means you could argue it’s also pronounced as mo-wett.
Phở (/fɜː/) is a delicious Vietnamese meal but its pronunciation has perplexed non-Vietnamese speaking Australians for years. To settle it once and for all, the first part is a ‘ph’ sound while it’s finished with an ‘ir’ sound (like sir without the ‘s’). Ph-ir.
Quesadilla (/ˌkeɪsəˈdiːjə/) is Mexican soul food and it’s pronounced in a few ways. Depending where you learnt Spanish, it could be pronounced keh-sa-di-ya (standard Spanish), keh-sa-di-ja (certain areas of South America) or keh-sa-di-sha (Argentina or Uruguay). Any way you say it, it’s definitely not keh-sa-dilla.
Quinoa (/ˈkiːnwɑː/) is commonly pronounced keen-wa. This is correct because it’s closer to the Quechuan word and is used in English-speaking countries but in Spanish, it’s also pronounced kee-no-ah.
Paella (/paˈeʎa/) is another difficult word for English speakers. As mentioned above, the double ‘l’ sound has three different variations but the most common is the ‘ya’ sound. So, it’s not pah-ella, but pah-eya.
Pinot noir (/pino nwaʁ/) is a French word, which means nothing is as it seems. It’s pronounced pee-no no-wa, not pi-not no-ya.
Just remember not to go too far with your pronunciations lest you turn out like this guy…
This article has been updated since its original publication.