(NEXSTAR) – It’s not just you; Hardly anyone knows how to pronounce “acai”.
That’s the main claim from a recent study by Unscrambled Words, which sought to determine the words, terms or names that Americans often struggle to pronounce.
It’s not just “acai” of course. Analysts at Unscrambled Words — an online resource for players of word-based games like Scrabble or Words With Friends — found nine other tongue-twisting terms that Americans don’t seem to know how to say based on the average number of monthly Google searches. Search for “how to pronounce”. [X].”
“This data may show that some people have been unwittingly mispronouncing words for years,” a spokesperson for Unscrambled Words said in a press release. “However, it also shows that there is no shame in knowing the correct pronunciations, which thousands of people across the United States want to find out every month.”
In addition to “acai” (which, according to the Merriam-Webster dictionary, is a species of palm tree bearing a berry of the same name and pronounced “ah-sah-EE” or “ah-sye-EE”), top Google-searched pronunciations include “gyro, ” included a number of other food-related words such as “charcuterie” and “pho”.
Others on the list include: “Omicron,” the name of the currently dominant strain of the SARS-CoV-2 coronavirus; “Nguyen,” a common Vietnamese surname; And “GIF” is a word for a particular image file format whose pronunciation linguists and software engineers still debate.
Below is the full top ten list, along with the average monthly number of Google searches for those pronunciations, according to Unscrambled Words. Each term is hyperlinked to a Merriam-Webster pronunciation, unless otherwise indicated.
- Akai – 20,400 monthly searches
- Gyro – 17,660 monthly searches
- Omicron – 15,530 monthly searches
- Charcuterie – 15,140 monthly searches
- Nguyen (Pronunciation via Heritage-Line) – 14,990 monthly searches
- Gnoki – 11,350 monthly searches
- GIF – 11,230 monthly searches
- Worcestershire – 8,880 monthly searches
- Dogecoin (Pronunciation via Benzinga) – 7,540 monthly searches
- Fo – 7,270 monthly searches
Meanwhile, the folks at Merriam-Webster like to remind us that we’re fools to think there are only 10 words. We usually mispronounce. In both June and October 2022, the tome’s editors released a list of the most mispronounced words in the English language, including “victuals,” “avry,” “epitome” and, yes, “ akai .”
“This well-known berry is harvested in Brazil, but it appears on menus and in recipes widely read by English speakers,” writes an editor at Merriam-Webster about the often mispronounced word. “Even if you’re not throwing it into your morning smoothie, you might want to make sure you’re saying acai correctly.”