Are you an avid car fan? You know all the models and brands. But have you been pronouncing it wrong all this time? Find out now.
Alfa Romeo: If you’re talking about cars and not the play by William Shakespeare, draw out the second syllable of Romeo–alfa ro-ME-yo, with me pronounced as in “mezzanine.”
Audi: It’s aw-dee, not o-dee. Say it like it hurts: aw-dee.
BMW: Too easy in English, so let’s do it the German way: bey-em-vey. Which of course stands for Bayerische Motoren Werke, pronounced bayerishuh motoren verke. The ‘w’ becomes a ‘v’. That means the BMW Welt isn’t a roundel-shaped scar, mind you.
Buick: Dating back to 1899, GM’s luxury brand is also the oldest among all active American makes. And yet a lot of folks still can’t properly say byoo-wik. Stretch both syllables and soften the ‘i’ in the second. It’s the ‘i’ in “lavish,” not the ‘y’ in “costly,” even though Buicks are both.
Chevrolet: Again, for another GM marque that’s been around over a hundred years, you’d think there’s no way people could still get Chevrolet wrong. Here’s hoping that over the next century of its existence, shev-ro-ley gets the faultless enunciation it deserves.
Citroen: What’s making folks falter is that Citroen is French–so there must be some letters that don’t sound the way they usually do or aren’t said entirely. But as far as French words go, this one’s actually simple: SEET-tro-en. You can make the ‘r’ nasal, if you wish. Native English speakers do away with it, and also say the first syllable as “sit.” That’s fine, too.
Hyundai: Hyoon-dey, we usually call it. Hon-dey, the Americans prefer to say. Well, talktomeinkorean on YouTube sort of gives the ‘h’ a millisecond life of its own: hh-yonn-de. The version you should use depends on where you are.
Koenigsegg: And here’s the big mouthful. We suppose the Swedish language has facets only native speakers can truly navigate. Elsewhere in the world, the accepted pronunciation is kou-nig-zegg. The ‘ou’ is midway between an ‘o’ and a ‘u,’ while the ‘z’ is midway between an ‘s’ and a ‘z’. And the ‘gg’? Its utterance here is aggrandized. Just gggofor it.
Lancia: No, as we’ve mentioned earlier, it’s not lan-see-ya. Next time, say lan-cha as in “Mancha,” where a certain quixotic don hails from. (For the record, the Italian carmaker has 16 WRC cups–10 manufacturers’ titles and six drivers’ trophies.)
Mercedes-Benz: Mer-SAY-deez, Americans keep saying, and so it became the mainstream delivery of the name. In case you want to be a stickler about it, however, stiffen up your ‘r’ a bit and say mur-SEE-dus bents, the ‘u’ in both cases like the one in “dust.” If that’s too hard, there’s always the Filipino fallback: Chedeng lang ‘yan.
Pagani: The brand’s name is straightforward enough; that of its current offering, not so much. The Huayra was named after “the father of the wind” in Incan culture. Drop the ‘h’ and say wai-rah, putting equal stress on both syllables.
Peugeot: Those French intricacies we were talking about in SEET-tro-en do come in play here. Take away both ‘e’s and the ‘t’, for a start. That leaves you with three letters, the most troublesome of which is the ‘g’. It’s essentially ajsh sound rather than an outright j as in jet. So, poo-jsho. Yes, that’s it. Poo-jsho. Very good.
Plymouth: Not the first syllable of “plywood” crossed with mouth. Not even close. Not that you’ll have many chances of saying the name–the brand’s been defunct since 2001. But for the record, you say pli-muth. It’s an abrupt intonation, the ‘u’ in the second syllable uttered like the one in, well, “utter.” As for the first syllable’s vowel, it sounds like the ‘i’ in “listen.”
Porsche: Instead of stopping at porsh, go right for the overrun: porsha. You can even let it rip on the ‘r’ instead of rolling the consonant. And for the record, the brand’s iconic sports coupe is the nine-eleven or the noyn-elf in German, never the nine-one-one.
Renault: Let’s eliminate the unneeded letters again–the last two in this case. Now, the marriage of ‘a’ and ‘u’ here is not the painful combination in aw-dee. Say it as in “automobile.” Put all remaining letters together, and you have re-no. Easy, no?
Subaru: The stress is on the first syllable–SOO-ba-roo instead of soo-BAA-roo. It’s a Japanese carmaker famous for boxer engines, Symmetrical AWD, and the im-pret-sa model, the go-fastest variant of which is the STI.
Volkswagen: We said earlier that Germans turn their ‘w’s into ‘v’s. Well, their ‘v’s also become ‘f’s. What the eff, right? So the biggest German carmaker is folks-va-gun, with that last syllable a clipped enunciation of “gun” (as in pistol). If you’re keen to get a job with the new local distributor, get the name right: folks-va-gun.