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Six Food Names you’re (Probably) Pronouncing WRONG

Have you ever sat in a restaurant and ordered something simple, but the server could just not understand what it is that you’re asking for?…
Maybe it’s because you asked for one of the foods I’m talking about in today’s video ?

This is why you HAVE TO watch this video:
1. You’ll learn how to pronounce the 6 most mispronounced and confusing food names in English.
2. You’ll hear two extremely funny and EMBARRASSING mispronunciation stories (one from when I
was working in NY for the worst restaurant owner ever).
3. You’ll get to hear me speak Hebrew for the first time in a video!


Hey guys, it’s Hadar and this is The Accent’s Way, and today we’re gonna talk about the six most mis-pronounced food names. Especially by non-native speakers.

The reason why I’m super passionate about today’s video is because, as anon-native speaker, working in many different restaurants in the U.S., I had to mess those words up so many times until I got them right. Until people stop looking at me like this… waiting for me to explain what I just said. So let’s begin.

The first word is quinoa, quinoa. Not qui-noah, keen-wah. Two syllables, the first one, is /k/ sound, and than a high ‘ee’, ‘keen’, ended it with an /n/, that’s the primary stress. And then it’s a /w/ sound – ‘whoa’, and the /ah/ as in “father” – ‘wah’. /keen-wah/, /keen-wah/. Would you like some steamed quinoa with vegetables? Quinoa.

Then we move on to Brazil with the nutritious and delicious açaí.We begin with /ah/ that’s the /ah/ as in father, then /sa/ that’s the /s/ and the /ah/ as in father ‘ah-sa’. And the third syllable is just ‘ee’. It’s the primary stress, so it’s going to be higher in pitch. ah-sa-(y)ee. And when we connect the ‘sa’ with the ‘ee’ we get a little bit of a ‘y’ sound – açaí, açaí. With granola, and, honey, and banana. Açaí.

The next word is “gnocchi”, that tasty Italian dish, so I’m kind of like embarrassed to share this story with you. But I will because it’s all about openness and communication over perfection. So when I was 20-something I was training in this restaurant, and the owner was a real jerk, right. Really mean, he would humiliate the waiters and waitresses.

So on my first day he calls me to his table and he’s like, “What are the specials?” So, I’m kind of like shaking and shivering, looking at the page and I’m like, “Weonion soup, and porcini Ghannouchi with cream and..” And he’s like “What?” “Porcini Ghannouchi.” “What are you talking about?” He was Israeli. “What are you talking about?” I was like, “Look, it’s on the board, there’s like porcini Ghannouchi”. And his girlfriend, she was sweet, she’s like, “gnocchi”. “Of course, gnocchi! Porcini gnocchi, you know, just sorry about that.” Anyway, “gnocchi”.

So the spelling has nothing to do with the pronunciation and the pronunciation is ‘nyow’. It’s an /n/ sound, and then the /o/ as in go – ‘nyow’. And then a /k/ and a high /e/. Nyow-kee. “Gnocchi”.

We have another Italian word and that is bruschetta, bruschetta. It’s not ‘brushetta’. It’s ‘bruws-keh-da’. The first syllable is ‘bruws’. It’s a B sound an R, round your lips for the R. It’s not ‘brrruws’ but ‘bruws’. A tense /uw/ and an /s/. Like the name Bruce, as in Bruce Springsteen or Bruce Willis.

Then the second syllable is /keh/, it’s a /k/sound and then the /eh/ sound as in “red”. /keh/. And then it’s a /t/ sound and an ‘uh’ (schwa). But since the T is in between two vowels it’s a flap T. ‘bruws-keh-da’, “bruws-keh-da”. Can I get a bruschetta with tomatoes and garlic and olive oil and a little bit of salt, please?

How should you pronounce this word? So a lot of Americans pronounce it like this: ‘hummus’, ‘hummus’. But the closest pronunciation to the original word would be ‘huw-m’s’. It’s an H sound, than the ‘oo’ as in “food” – ‘huw’, and the second syllable is m’s-m’s. ‘huw-m’s’, ‘huw-m’s’. But you can also say ‘hummus’ and everyone will understand you. ‘hummus’ Or you can just go for ‘humus (with an Israeli accent).

Now, the next word is the accent coaches favorite – the word “salmon”. And if you want to hear a really funny pronunciation story about this word then stick with me until the end. Let’s begin with a simple fact that there is no L in the word salmon. Now, don’t try to convince me that there is an L and you just can’t hear it or that you swallow it because it’s a dark L, there is no L, okay?

It’s an S sound than the A as in cat, /seh/. But when the /a/ in cat appears before an M sound, which is the next sound, because there is no L, the /a/ turns more into an /eh/ – ‘seh’. The second syllable has an M sound, a schwa, so there is no O, and an N. So it’s not ‘mon’, it’s m’n, m’n. seh-m’n, seh-m’n. The /seh/ is the primary stress so it’s going to be higher in pitch. seh-m’n.

Now, I have areally funny pronunciation story about the word salmon. And I hope my husband forgives me for sharing this story with you guys. But hey, it was one embarrassing story about me. What about him? It’s only fair.

So when we were in New York a few years back, my husband went to a bagel store looking for salmon cream cheese because he loves it, I don’t know why. So he remembered that there is no L sound from all my videos and I always talked about it but I guess I forgot what vowel comes before. So he walks up to the guy the counter asking for poppy’s bagel with semen, cream cheese, tomatoes and onion. Semen.

Now, the guy at the counter was probably thinking, “Okay this guy did not just ask for semen cream cheese. He probably meant cinnamon cream cheese”. So he prepared for him a poppy’s bagel with sweet cinnamon, cream cheese, tomato, and onion. Now, my husband, Gil, was like, “Okay, this is not what I asked for, but I’m just gonna take it and say thank you”. Salmon. So the word “salmon” has no L, so it’s not “sal-mon”, and it’s definitely not “semen”.

That’s it guys, thank you so much for watching. If you like this video consider subscribing. Let me know in the comments below what other foods give you a hard time. And I’m not talking about digestion, I’m talking about pronunciation. Have a wonderful week, and I’ll see you next week in the next video. Bye!

Curious about other challenging names in English? Check out these episodes:

The most searched ‘How to Pronounce’ words on Google (and how to pronounce them)

11 VERY challenging English names to pronounce


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One Response

  1. Hi dear Hadar, Is the American pronunciation of “Gnocchi and bruschetta” in this video? I ask because in Italian, I am italian, this is not the correct pronunciation.
    Let me know if you’ll read this message!

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