You say Qui-noah, I say Keen-wah: Let’s Call the Whole Thing off!

From Superfoods to Sausages: the foods proving more than a mouthful for British tongues.

We all know our taste-buds have been going global for years but is our native tongue keeping pace with our changing tastes? A new report released has revealed for the first time the top taste-bud tongue twisters leaving us speechless in the shopping aisles & at the dinner table.

quinoaIn a national pronunciation test, more than two-thirds (69%) of the nation – unknowingly – mispronounce super-popular so-called superfood quinoa, with just 31% of shoppers saying ‘Keen-wah’, the correct pronunciation. Meanwhile, 56% of us mispronounce prosciutto, more than half struggle with Rioja and 43% are saying Ciabatta all wrong.

But perhaps surprisingly it’s Chorizo we are most likely to mispronounce – with just a quarter of Brits pronouncing the Spanish sausage – which has become a regular ingredient in recent years – correctly!

The report, commissioned by Co-op Food as it looks to introduce new pronunciation guides for customers and training guides for store staff, also reveals the nation’s most baffling taste-bud tongue-twisters, exploring which food words prove the biggest mouthful for our language skills and local dialects.

TzatzikiGreek sauce Tzatziki tops the list ahead of the South of France’s fishy delicacy Bouillabaisse and Latin American favourite Ceviche. But less exotic Mexican, Italian & Spanish staples found on any supermarket shelf also make the list, including guacamole, gnocchi and rioja.

And our food-word fumbles and faux pas can sometimes cause embarrassment – 27% have blushed at some point having mispronounced or stumbled over a food item or dish, with romantic meals, holidays, business-lunches and meeting the in-laws the occasions where red-faces strike. However our increasingly adventurous tastes nearly always overrule our British reserve and less than one in fifty would not order something for fear of saying it wrong – a case of belly rules head perhaps?

ChorizoOur keenness to try new cuisines and enthusiasm for the exotic – coupled with our sometimes clumsy language skills – means there is now an appetite for more help to pronounce the foods cropping up in menus and food-baskets alike, properly.

In fact 4/10 shoppers think stores could do more to help clear up confusion or offer guidance, including one in three shoppers who’d like to see phonetic guides on packaging & shelves and 1 in 10 who’d like to hear in-store announcements on the tannoy to give shopper-friendly hints and tips on how to pronounce certain items!

Here to educate us on the rights & wrongs of pronunciation and shine a light on why certain words can leave us tongue-tied, confused or mistaken is Catherine Sangster, Head of Pronunciations from world renowned Oxford English Dictionary.

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