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14 London Tube Stops Whose Pronunciation Just Doesn’t Make Sense

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14 London Tube Stops

Last week I was in a queue at the Tube station and the guy in front of me was trying to buy a ticket to Southwark, but he was getting increasingly flustered.  The problem was, he kept saying “South-wark” and the customer assistant had no idea which station he was asking for:  “I don’t where that is, mate.” 

How do you pronounce Southwark?

You see, the ‘south’ in Southwark is not pronounced the way we would normally say ‘south’ – you say ‘suhth’ instead (using the same vowel sound that’s in the word ‘up’); the ‘w’ in ‘wark’ is silent and since this second syllable is weak, it uses the schwa rather than taking a long ‘ar’ sound as in ‘car’.  So, how should the guy have said where he was going?  Suh-thuk would have got him his ticket far quicker - or /ˈsʌðək/ for those of you familiar with the phonemic script.

The relationship between the spelling and sound of English words is pretty complex in general, but that of place names in particular can be mind-boggling.  To save you time and hassle at the ticket office, we’ve compiled a list of just a few of the tube stops whose pronunciation you may struggle with:

 

Don’t say…

Say..

How do you pronounce Southwark?

south-wark

 

The ‘south’ part is said with a completely different vowel sound; the ‘w’ is silent; the second syllable is weak so the ‘ar’ is not long as in ‘car’.

 

suh-thuk

/ˈsʌðək/

 

 

How do you pronounce Greenwich?

green-witch

 

‘Green’ is pronounced ‘gri’ or ‘gre’ and the ‘w’ is silent.

 

gri-nitch or gre-nitch

/ˈgrɪnɪʧ/ or /ˈgrenɪʧ/

How do you pronounce Leicester (Square)?

lai- ses-ter

 

There are only 2 syllables in this word so you have to imagine the middle ‘ice’ disappears.

 

les-tuh

/ˈlestə/

How do you pronounce Borough?

bo-ruff

 

The first ‘o’ sounds like the ‘u’ in ‘up’; the ‘ough’ is weak and takes the schwa sound.

 

buh-ruh

/ˈbʌrə/

How do you pronounce Clapham?

klap-ham

 

There is a silent ‘h’.

 

kla-pum

/ˈklæpəm/

How do you pronounce Canary Wharf?

ka-naa-ri   waarf

 

The second syllable in ‘Canary’ rhymes with ‘wear’; the ‘h’ and ‘r’ in ‘wharf are silent.

 

kuh-nea-ri  wawf

/kəˌneəriːˈwɔːf/

How do you pronounce Gloucestor (Road)?

glaw-ses-ter

 

There are 2 syllables in this word so imagine the middle ‘uce’ has disappeared.

 

glos-tuh

/ˈglɒstə/

How do you pronounce Ladbroke (Grove)?

lad-broke

 

The ‘broke’ is not pronounced like the past of ‘break’: it rhymes with ‘book’.

 

lad-brook

/ˈlædbrʊk/

How do you pronounce Vauxhall?

vauks-hall

 

The first syllable rhymes with ‘shocks’ and the ‘h’ is silent.

 

voks-all

/ˈvɒksɔːl/

How do you pronounce Loughton?

loff-ton

 

The ‘ough’ can be said in various ways but in this case, it rhymes with ‘how’.

 

lau-tun

/ˈlaʊtən/

How do you pronounce Warwick (Avenue)?

wahr-wick

 

The ‘war’ sounds like ‘more’ and the second ‘w’ is silent.

 

woh-rick

/ˈwɒrɪk/

 

How do you pronounce Deptford?

dept-ford

 

There is a silent ‘p’ and ‘r’; the second syllable is short not long.

det-fud

/ˈdetfəd/

How do you pronounce Ruislip?

roo-i-slip

 

The first syllable rhymes with ‘my’.

 

rye-slip

/ˈraɪslɪp/

How do you pronounce Marylebone?

mary-lee-bone

 

‘Mary’ sounds like ‘maa’ and ‘bone’ becomes short and weak. 

maa-li-bun

/ˈmɑːlɪbən/

 

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