(NEXSTAR) – It’s not just you; almost no one knows how to pronounce “acai.” That’s the major takeaway from a recent study conducted by Unscrambled Words, which sought to determine the words, terms or names that Americans are often struggling to pronounce.
It wasn’t just “acai,” of course. The analysts at Unscrambled Words — an online resource for players of word-based games like Scrabble or Words With Friends — have found nine other tongue-twisting terms that Americans seemingly don’t know how to say, based on the average number of monthly Google searches for “How to pronounce [X].”
“This data might show that some people may have been mispronouncing words for years without realizing,” a spokesperson for Unscrambled Words stated in a press release. “However, it also shows that there is no shame in wanting to know correct pronunciations, with thousands of people across the U.S. also wanting to find out every single month.”
In addition to “acai” (a species of palm tree which bears a berry of the same name, and is pronounced “ah-sah-EE” or “ah-sye-EE,” per the Merriam-Webster dictionary), the top-searched pronunciations on Google included a number of other food-related words, such as “gyro,” “charcuterie” and “pho,” among others.
Others from the list include: “Omicron,” currently the name of the predominant variant of the SARS-CoV-2 coronavirus; “Nguyen,” a common Vietnamese surname; and “GIF,” a word for a specific kind of image file format that linguists and software engineers still debate the pronunciation of.
The complete top-ten list is below, alongside the average monthly number of Google searches for those pronunciations, according to Unscrambled Words. Each term is also hyperlinked to a pronunciation at Merriam-Webster, unless where otherwise indicated.
- Acai – 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
- Gnocchi – 11,350 monthly searches
- GIF – 11,230 monthly searches
- Worcestershire – 8,880 monthly searches
- Dogecoin (pronunciation via Benzinga) – 7,540 monthly searches
- Pho – 7,270 monthly searches
The folks at Merriam-Webster, meanwhile, would like to remind us that we’re fools to think there are only 10 words we commonly mispronounce. In both June and October of 2022, the editors of the tome have released their own lists of the most mispronounced words in the English language, which include such whoppers as “victuals,” “awry,” “epitome” and, yes, “acai.”
“This famous berry is harvested in Brazil, but it’s featured on menus and in recipes read by English speakers aplenty,” an editor for Merriam-Webster writes of the oft-mispronounced word. “Even if you’re not throwing it into your morning smoothie, you might want to be sure you’re saying acai right.”