'Squid Game', cryptocurrency and beauty filters: the most mispronounced words of 2021

"Squid Game" provided one of the most mispronounced words of the year
"Squid Game" provided one of the most mispronounced words of the year Copyright Netflix/AP
By Tim Gallagher
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Newsreaders have stumbled over these words, but where do the biggest tongue-twisters of 2021 come from?


The results are in and ‘cheugy’ and ‘yassify’ are officially the most mispronounced words of 2021, proving that traditional media is still struggling with fast-paced internet culture.

The U.S. Captioning Company, who caption and subtitle real-time events for TV, compiled the list which identifies which words were most challenging for newsreaders and people on television to pronounce this year.

Cheugy (CHOO-gee), is a term popularised by Gen Z and used to mock an outdated and unfashionable aesthetic typically associated with millennials. Meanwhile, 'yassify' (YEAH-sih-fai) is a trend in which multiple beauty filters are applied to well-known pictures or portraits for comic effect.

The continuing influence of entertainment and sport on language is proven as singer "Billie Eilish" (EYE-LISH) and tennis player ‘Stefanos Tsitsipas’ (STEH-fuh-nohs TSEE-tsee-pas) both placing highly.

Eilish is a Gen Z phenomenon whose album "Happier than Ever" was released this year, Tsitsipas is the world's No. 4 tennis player, who rose to international prominence when he lost to Novak Djokovic in the final of the French Open.

'Dalgona' (tal-goh-NAH), a treat made with melted sugar and baking soda, also entered the English vernacular after appearing on hit Netflix show “Squid Game”.

The caption company said it surveyed its members to generate the list, which is now in its sixth year and was commissioned by Babbel, a language-learning platform with headquarters in Berlin and New York.

"Newscasters in the U.S. have struggled with 2021's new words and names while reporting on key sporting events, viral internet trends and emerging celebrities," said Esteban Touma, a standup comedian and teacher for Babbel Live.

"As a language teacher, it's always interesting to see that some of these terms are usually new colloquialisms, or are rooted or borrowed from another language," he adds.

"As a non-native speaker, I must confess it's fun to see English speakers stumbling a bit for a change."

Tongue twisting global events

The continuing rise of bitcoin in 2021 was reflected on the list with cryptocurrencies 'ethereum' (ih-THEE-ree-um) and Elon Musk-endorsed ‘dogecoin’ (DOHJ-coin) both appearing.

The much-maligned and continually popular Chinese fast-fashion retailer ‘Shein’ (SHEE-in) also made the top-10.

Justin Tang/AP
"Squid Game" sparked copycat challenges around the worldJustin Tang/AP

In more serious news the pandemic and climate change have bred language that newsreaders are stumbling over.

‘Omicron’(OH-mee-kraan), the new variant of COVID-19 first identified in South Africa, has had everyone reaching for the ancient Greek textbook. While Glasgow (GLAHZ-go), host of climate conference COP26, has had many non-UK residents tripping over their words.

Ever Given (EV-er GIV-en), the name of the ship that blocked the Suez Canal in March, also caused problems. Many newscasters mistook the name of the ship as "Evergreen," the name of the company that owns the vessel, which was printed on its hull.

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