Many elderly Filipinos, especially those who were already born before or during the World War II, are very good at speaking the English language. Several people often tell me that when one had reached Grade 2 back then, they could speak fluent English already.
The only thing that needs to be improved though is their accent and pronunciation. On this blog, you’ll find some of the most commonly mispronounced words by Filipinos.
1. Chocolate – /ˈtʃɑk·lət/ (US)
Many Filipinos, including myself, are used to pronouncing chocolate as “Cho-co-leit” (Cho-co-late). Notice, however, that the IPA (International Phonetic Alphabet) symbols for this word has only two syllables -ˈtʃɑk·lət. We are also used to pronouncing its last syllable like the English word “late”, which means arriving after the necessary time.
Listen to the proper pronunciation of “chocolate” by playing the video below.
2. Indigent – /ˈɪn·dɪ·dʒənt/ (US)
I usually hear this word when people are talking about the qualifications to be considered as “indigent” (they pronounce it “in-day-jent”) for a certain Philippine Government program called 4Ps or “The Pantawid Pamilyang Pilipino Program.”
Listen to the proper pronunciation of “indigent” by playing the video below.
3. Youtube – /juː.tuːb/ (US)
There is a consideration on this one. If you’re using British accent, then it is okay to say youtube (ˈjuː.tʃuːb) sounds like “yu-choob”. However, in the Philippines, it is common to imitate the American way of enunciating words. So the pronunciation sounds like “yu-tub” without the “ch” sound for the last syllable.
4. Tutor – /ˈtu·t̬ər/ (US)
This is a little bit funny because some of our fellow ESL tutors often pronounce “tutor” as “choo-tor.”
Listen to its proper pronunciation.
5. News – /nuz/ (US)
Whether we are referring to the news media or the news they provide, the proper pronunciation for the word “news” is “nuz”, not “nyus”.
This also applies to the word “new” /nu/. So when you say “New York”, it should sound like “Nu York” not “Nyu York”.
6. Cleanliness – /ˈklen·li·nəs/ (US)
This is a bit tricky because the word “clean” is pronounced “klin”. But in the word “cleanliness”, the first syllable is pronounced “klen”.
7. Cocoa – /ˈkoʊ·koʊ/ (US)
So this is pronounced “kow-kow” not “ko-kowa”.
Still not convinced? Listen here.
8. Debut – /ˈdeɪ·bju/ or /deɪˈbju/ (US)
This means the first public appearance of something, like a music album, song, or film. Many Filipinos usually pronounce this as “di-bu” or “dee-bu”. But the correct pronunciation is ˈdeɪ·bju (dei-byoo)
Listen for the correct pronunciation here.
If you are unsure how to enunciate an English word, it is always a good idea to consult a dictionary. The online dictionary “dictionary.cambridge.org” provides comprehensive guide to help you pronounce an English word both for US and UK accents.