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  • Amanda Morris
  • "Do you say Seville or Sevilla? Italy or Italia?"

Amanda Morris

Atlanta, Georgia

Do you say Seville or Sevilla? Italy or Italia?

When I am traveling, I say the name of the country or city the way the locals say it; but, my question is for when I am home.

When you are back home, do you say the name of the city the way the locals do or not?

While I'm not likely to call it Firenze (Florence) at home, I AM likely to say Chile (with an eh sound, not chili like the food).

But, I often question how to say other places:  Seville or Say-vee-ya?  

What do you think?

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10 Answers

  • Kelly R.

    top answer by

    I always try to pronounce places the way the locals do. Here in Massachusetts, we have a city called Worcester. Non-locals do not know how to pronounce the name. We pronounce it, Wuh-stah. If someone says something else, we will immediately know you're not a local.

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    • Claire W.

      Claire W.

      Yes, and Kentuckians easily recognize non natives by the way they pronounce Louisville. The correct way to say it is Loo-Uh-Vuhl. · (2 likelikes)

    • Mary S.

      Mary S.

      Yes, that's exactly the same as with the original Worcester, Leicester, Gloucester etc in the UK. The difference is that everyone who lives in the UK knows it's Wuh-stah, Less-tah, Glos-tah etc so it's not just locals who use the correct pronunciation. It's only people visiting from abroad who don't. :-) · (3 likelikes)

    • Kelly R.

      Kelly R.

      I always wanted to know how to pronounce Louisville. Thank you, I've been saying it wrong. · (0 likelikes)

    • Nancy M.

      Nancy M.

      It took me a long time to get Wuh-stuh correct! Then I had to master Pea-buh-dee. I make an effort to learn local pronunciation wherever I go. I am from the Willamette (dammit) Valley in Ore-ee-gun · (2 likelikes)

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  • RosalieAnn Beasley

    answered by

    How I pronounce the name of a city depends on who I am talking to as much as where I am. If I am talking to a fellow American (where ever I am), I pronounce it like we do at home. Otherwise I sounds affected. If I am talking to a native of the country, I make an effort to pronounce it as they do.


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    • Amanda M.

      Amanda M.

      Thanks, RosalieAnn. I am always concerned about sounding like I'm trying to impress if I am talking to Americans and pronounce the city the way locals would. By the way, I admire you :) I've seen your questions and answers quite a bit around here and I like reading what you have to say. I want to be a grandma like you one day, and travel for as long as you have! · (0 likelikes)

    • RosalieAnn B.

      RosalieAnn B.

      Thank you - I'm a great grandmother now. My mother traveled and drove her own car (safely - she was a good driver - started on a Model T when she was 14) until she was 95, although she didn't drive long distances alone at that age. · (1 likelikes)

    • RosalieAnn B.

      RosalieAnn B.

      If someone mispronounces any word, the polite thing to do is not to embarrass them by pointing it out but in some way (out of the public eye) gently to correct them. · (1 likelikes)

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  • Mary Smith

    answered by

    I live in the UK and when am in the UK or any English-first-language country I use the British English pronunciation/name of a country, city etc e.g. Germany, Florence, Munich, Prague, Seville, Vienna and so on.

    When I am in the relevant country I generally use the correct country pronunciation/name e.g. Deutschland, Firenze, Muenchen, Praha, Sevilla, Wien etc etc etc..... though if I'm speaking English I will sometimes use the British English name/pronunciation, depending on circumstances and context.

    To do anything other seems to me illogical as well as potentially disrespectful when in the country concerned and, when I'm in the UK, it just makes me look pretentious. :-)

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    • Amanda M.

      Amanda M.

      Thanks, Mary. Yes, I would be concerned about sounding pretentious, too! I like your hard and fast rule. · (1 likelikes)

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  • Ed O'Meara

    answered by

    You say it the way that it's said in your language, otherwise you'll look unbearably pretentious and people will literally cross the street to avoid you. Hope that helps!

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  • Isabele Ferreira

    answered by

    It's really a good question. I think the best way is to say the name as a lovcal, Sevilla for example... I'm from Rio de Janeiro and if you say in your language is Rio of January, nobody says it. But it's true some city as New York I always say in my language if I'm talking in my country.

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  • Mickey Wakefield

    answered by

    The habit of trying to sound „international“ and using a foreign placename while speaking English is super-annoying - and mega-american. Calling Munich by that name when speaking English is not wrong - that’s its name in English. Same for using Italy, Seville, Bejing or whatever.

    If you speak German, and are using that language, then use the German names for places. Same for every other language and place.

    Otherwise I might get into some stupid roundabout trying to explain to some Spanish friends in English that I was coming to Sevilla after I visited Italia leaving my home in Monaco di Baviera.

    Don‘t do it. It‘s not respectful, it’s affected, and it doesn’t make you sound like a world traveler. Quite the opposite.

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  • Basil Brush

    answered by

    I think you're best off just saying it the English way but respecting little nuances and not saying things like Aye-rack instead of ee-rahk (For Iraq) - in this case if you did indeed go full native you'd be hitting a glutteral letter (that last q is 'qoff') that is no letter in English whatsoever. Just sounds odd and possibly confusing to others who don't speak that language. Take for example Geneva - you gonna sound like Alex trebec on a episode of Jeopardy if you say 'I really love the incredible macroons you can get in J'nev'. Then if take it further and 'I go to Suiss every year and make sure to spend at least a day in J'nev'. It doesn't serve any purpose to pronounce native way splat bang in the middle of an English sentence. As metioned with Iraq, it does help to try to not butcher certain places as an example Tokyo...you don't have say 'Tohkyo' like you've suddenly switched to Japanese, but can sound wrong to say 'tokee-oo'. Heres another situation that more extreme "the smell of the spice markets Mass'r is incredible" - what i am talking about is completely different names like Egypt which is 'massr' in Arabic. Maaaaaaaybe one exception is 'Deutschland' coz it's kind of slang and besides sounds uber cool. One guy mentions worster and there are may places that have a specific pronounciation in english that often get butchered, for example worchestershire is 'wister-sheer' and edinburgh is 'edin-burrah' (these are little nuances that need respekt if you sound the letters the way they look then you might as well also say 'the castels in edin-berg housed many armoured kenigits ') !

    Consider this - If you flip the table and imagine a French conversation and they pronounced 'los Angeles' in a full on American accent - wouldn't you rather los Angeles blended elegantly into their language or sticking out like a sore thumb !?!?

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  • claus andersen

    answered by

    Pronouncing foreign languages has always come very easy to me. Grammar on the other hand is a real barstard. So I always pronounce a city the way the locals do when I am there. I even say Tronto when I am in Toronto :-) Now try to Pronounce Copenhagen in the local language :-)

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  • Tracy Welch Kalescky

    answered by

    Our friends lived in Seville and only called it Sevilla to us before our trip there. Now when I speak I generally say Sevilla and Tor Lay do for Toledo. When I see someone might be confused I use the English version.

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  • Hazel B

    answered by

    If you know the correct pronounciation, then you are free to use it. l have been saying it incorrectly all this time. Thanks for the correction. Just speak confidently, either way.

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