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

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…


How do you pronounce Southwark?



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’.





How do you pronounce Greenwich?



‘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.



How do you pronounce Borough?



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



How do you pronounce Clapham?



There is a silent ‘h’.



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


How do you pronounce Gloucestor (Road)?



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



How do you pronounce Ladbroke (Grove)?



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



How do you pronounce Vauxhall?



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



How do you pronounce Loughton?



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



How do you pronounce Warwick (Avenue)?



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




How do you pronounce Deptford?



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



How do you pronounce Ruislip?



The first syllable rhymes with ‘my’.



How do you pronounce Marylebone?



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




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