I was searching for some information on Spinvox (the company that converts voicemail to text), and it appears they’ve been keeping researchers, and the Great British Public, busy.

In addition to a poll they’ve conducted about grammar, which showed that almost half of Britons have trouble identifying the correct use of apostrophes, another survey revealed that the word “phenomenon” is the biggest tongue twister for a lot of Brits. (It’s pronounced ‘fen-om-e-non’).

Other words in the list include “anaesthetist” which comes in at number 2; “prejudice” (at number 17), and “February” (number 12).

You can see the full list here, along with the phonetic pronunciations of each word.

I have a slight problem with these pronunciations, the first being those for “anaesthetist” and “anonymous”. They show both words being pronounced with the sound “uh” at the beginning, whereas I have always pronounced them with the “an” sound, as this is how they are spelt.

Further, with “hereditary”, the sound I make at the end of the word is something more akin to “tree” than the “ter-ee” that is shown. And “prah-awr-i-tahyz-ing” sounds downright American if you sound it out, rather than the British “pry-orr-it-hyzing”.

So, I turned to the trusty Oxford English Dictionary (OED) for validation. It shows the pronunciations thus:

Anaesthetist – /neessthtist/ – (the funny upside down ‘e’ is an ‘a’ sound such as in ‘apart’)
Anonymous – /əˈnɒn.ɪ.məs/
Hereditary – /hiredditri/
Prioritise – /praɪ’ɒr.ɪ.taɪz/