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How to pronounce New York and its Boroughs

When it comes to pronouncing names of famous cities, places, and people we usually have a pretty good idea of how to pronounce them accurately.
However, If you listen closely, you may discover that you are pronouncing those words closer to the way you say them in your native tongue, and not how you’d say them in English (since it’s usually the same word).
This is why I made this video (and also because I miss New York)

Here’s what you’re going to learn today:
1. How to pronounce New York (and a common mistake non-native speakers make)
2. How to pronounce Manhattan, and in particular, how to pronounce the end part ‘-tan’ like a local (a sound that is also found in ‘mountain’, ‘Hilton’ and ‘Kitten’)
3. How to pronounce the other boroughs: Brooklyn, The Bronx, QueenZ, and Staten Island.
4. What are my favorite New York songs


Yo, yo, wassup! It’s Hadar, and this is the Accent’s Way. And today we’re going to talk about how to pronounce the name of my favorite city in the whole world –

New York, and it’s five boroughs: Queens, Manhattan, Brooklyn, the Bronx, and Staten Island.

So, let’s begin with the name New-York. A lot of you might be saying ‘/N/j/ew York’, ‘njuw’. And N sound and then a /j/, and then the ‘uw’ as in food – ‘njuw’. But to be honest, you don’t have to add that /j/ sound. You can just say ‘nuw’, ‘nuw’ – and ‘n’ sound and then ‘uw’ – ‘nuw’.

Then you have a Y sound and the ‘or’ as in ‘four’ – ‘York’, ‘York’; and end it with a K sound – New York. The stress falls on the second word, but ‘New’ is kind of stressed too, because it is an important word. New York.

The first borough is going to be Manhattan. Here you may find several pronunciations of the same word – MAnhattan, M’nhattan, ManhaTTan. But we’ll talk about the way people usually pronounce it in New York. Which is kind of a generalization because there are so many different dialects. So, it would be a lie to say that there is only one way to say it. But anyway.

Let’s begin with the first syllable: m’n, m’n – it’s an M sound, then a schwa, and an N – m’n, m’n. I reduced vowel, so technically there is no vowel between the M and the N – m’n. The second syllable is HA: an H sound – and you have to pronounce it, so it’s not m’n-A-t’n, but ‘m’n-HA-‘, and drop your jaw for the A as in cat. ‘m’n-HA-t’n’.

And then – that’s the trick – we have a T-schwa-N. And when there was a T, a schwa – a reduced vowel – and then an N, we release the T through the nose. I call it the nasal T – t’n, t’n. ‘m’n-HA-t’n’.  So, I bring the tongue up, block the air in the mouth, but instead of releasing it here, I block the air with my tongue and I release it through the nose – t’n, t’n. ‘m’n-HA-t’n’. It’s the sound when you have a cold – ‘m’n-HA-t’n’ – you can’t make it. You have to have open passages there in your nose. Manhattan, Manhattan.

However, you’ll notice that a lot of people pronounce it slightly different. And that is because they’re not even wringing the tip of the tongue up here, they block the air in the throat. It’s called the glottal stop.

A glottal stop is when you abruptly stop your breath with your vocal chords. It sounds something like this, when you’re about to say something like ‘ahead’ – ‘ʔ’, ‘ʔ’, that’s the sound, ‘ʔ’, ‘ahead’. Or when you agree with someone. My daughter always does this when she understands something. That ‘ʔ’ sound is the glottal stop.

And some people substitute the T with the glottal stop. And you keep the tongue up as you do it, so you do hear something that resembles the N at the end – m’n-HA-ʔ’n. So it’s not ‘m’n-HA-t’m’, right, I cannot close my lips. The tip of the tongue needs to be up – m’n-HA-ʔ’n. But I block the air here. It wasn’t a real T. m’n-HA-ʔ’n. So, m’n-HA-t’n [through my nose] – m’n-HA-ʔ’n.

Let’s talk about the word Queens. Queens. Here we have a K sound and a W – kw, kw. And then we shift to a high E as in ‘see’ – ‘kwee’.. It’s not ‘kwinz’, ‘kwinz’, but ‘kweenz’. So it needs to be a little longer than what you’re used to, probably – ‘kwee’. Then we have an N sound and a Z – ‘kweenz’, ‘kweenz’. Not ‘kweenS’ – ‘kweenZ’.

Following that, we have my favorite borough – Brooklyn. Here we have a B sound and an R – round your lips, pull the tongue back. Not ‘bRuk’, but ‘brrr’, so you need to be able to hold out the sound forever – ‘brrrruk’, ‘brrrruk’.  It’s not uw’, it’s not ‘bruwk’ – ‘bruk’.

It’s somewhere between ‘uw’ and ‘oh’ and ‘ah’. ‘bruk’. Imagine like you have a hot potato in the back of your mouth – ‘bruk’, ‘bruk’. And then from that K sound that is in the back of your throat, you move to the L immediately – ‘bruk-lin’. You don’t release the K: it’s not ‘bruK-lin’ – ‘bruk-lin’, you release it into the L.

And for the L, the tip of the tongue has to touch the upper palate – Brooklyn. If you tend to confuse the L with the R, and then it sounds something like ‘Brookryn’, ‘Brookryn’, right, make sure that the tip of the tongue touches the upper palate. Hold it out if you need to – ‘bruk-LLL’, to make sure that you actually pronounce the L correctly. ‘BrookLLLin’. Then it’s the relaxed ‘i’ sound and an N. Brooklyn.

The Bronx. For the word ‘Bronx’ we start with the B sound, then the R – ‘br-‘, and open it to the ‘aa’ as in ‘father’ – ‘braa’. Then we move on to the ‘ng’ – ‘braan-‘, that is then released to the K sound – ‘braank-‘. And then immediately you want to shift to the S – ‘braanks’, ‘braanks’, the S consonant sound, right, not in the spelling. ‘braanks’.

Don’t add any vowels. I know it’s sometimes difficult to move from one consonant to another, but practice it. ‘braan-‘, hold out the consonant – ‘braanks’. Bronx.

And lastly, Staten Island. Staten. Staten. Here we have an S and then a T right after – ‘sta’. And we open it to the A as in cat – STA, STA. Drop your jaw, pull the lips to the sides a bit. The tip of the tongue is pushing forward, and the back of the tongue is up; the front of the tongue is flat – STA, like ‘staff’ or ‘stack’. STA.

And then, again, we have the T-schwa-N. We already know how to pronounce it: ‘STA-ʔ’n’, ‘STA-ʔ’n’, or ‘STA-t’n’, when I release it through the nose – ‘STA-t’n’. Do whatever is easier for you. Staten Island.

Island. Of course, there is no S here. We begin with ‘AI’ as in ‘I am’ – ‘AI’. And then ‘l’nd’, ‘l’nd’. Not ‘lend’, not ‘land’ – ‘l’nd’. It’s an L sound, a schwa, and ND – ‘l’nd’. ‘AI-l’nd’. ‘STA-‘n ‘AI-l’nd’. ‘STA-‘n ‘AI-l’nd‘, stress falls on ‘Island’. Staten Island.

Okay, that’s it. Thank you so much for watching. Let me know in the comments below, which of the five is your favorite borough? And if you live in New York, let me know in the comments as well, so I know where you live when I come visit, so we can hang out.

Okay. Thank you so much for watching again. Have a lovely lovely week and I’ll see you next week on YouTube – not in New York, unfortunately – in the next video.

The InFluency Podcast
The InFluency Podcast
126. How to pronounce New York City Boroughs

Tell us in the comments below what your favorite borough or neighborhood is!

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