19 Foods Australians Always Mispronounce

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19 Foods Australians Always Mispronounce
Image: Getty Images

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.


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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.

Comments

  • Gyoza is Japan’s answer to the humble dumpling. I’ve heard kai-yo-za so let’s set the record straight — gee-yo-za.
    That’s not really correct. The “gyo” (ぎょ) is pronounced as a single syllable. It’s not a natural sound for native English speakers so it might take a little practice. If you pronounce gyoza in three syllables it becomes a completely different (probably nonsensical) word.
    Moët (/moɛt‿e) is a boujee beverage for the boujee Australian. Sound rich by calling it mo-eh, instead of mo-ett.
    Also the Moët of Moët & Chandon is a Dutch name so the ‘t’ is pronounced (mo-ett) despite the product coming from France.

    • Regarding gyoza, you’re right and it was hard to sound that one out. I think an attempt at saying gee-yo quickly will eventually get the right pronunciation. Still, anything’s better than kai-oh-za!

  • Except you’re wrong on the pronunciation of Moet. It’s a Dutch name, so has a hard ‘T’, so ‘mowet.’ Many wine snobs will look down their nose at you because you didn’t call it “mowy” because they think they know better.

    • This is a point of contention because it’s from France and Claude Moët was raised in France! I’ve updated to include the variation though. Thanks for pointing out.

  • pinot noir – Pinot (grape variety) Noir (Black)
    They happen to use the juice (without the skins) to produce a White wine, Its used in Champagne, Blanc de Blancs etc. Then just to be confusing there is also a Blanc de Noir, same thing but with the skins on!

  • Fillet: This might be the only word people from the USA pronounce correctly. (shock) .

    Yup, fil-lay is the way to say this one. We Australians sound very pedestrian saying “fill it”

    As for McDonalds , they had trouble with the word, regular. Never does it mean medium or standard. The word refers a period of time only.

    • I disagree:

      “filet” is a French word, pronounced (roughly) fil-lay
      “fillet” is an English word, pronounced fill-let
      (Yes, they have the same origin, but the English word with a hard “t” has been around since the 14th century.)

      So it’s fill-let of beef, or eye fill-let steak, but fil-lay min-yon (Filet Mignon).

      • Lovit, thanks julianh72 . I was wondering the same thing in the back ground. I guess at the end of the day, English is the living language and as such, it is in constant change. Hopefully, as time goes by we will still be able to understand each other. 🙂

    • Well, being a bloody foreigner, all my two score years here I have called it a fee-lay of fish and to give them their due – have never received a weird look at a Macca’s. … (And yes as an okay boomer, that’s what I order – when I do)
      Maybe they’re too busy translating my request for “medium” into “regular”.

    • Fillet is not a loanword as many of the other examples are. It has been an English word since Middle English with the ‘t’ pronounced. While it came through Old French and is derived from Latin, we would be pronouncing a lot of words differently in English if we followed that reasoning.
      However, we do see filet used in English as a loanword, as in filet mignon, and, indeed, filet-o-fish at Maccas.

  • > Pinot noir. It’s pronounced pee-no no-wa, not pi-not no-ya.

    Er, no. “No-where” is “noir” pronounced “no-wa”. It has one syllable, pronounced nwah, and if you’re French has a little French throaty ‘rrr’ on the end. But you can leave that last bit out perfectly acceptably outside of France and noone will laugh. But if you say “no-wa” they very well might.

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