Non-native pronunciations of English

From Academic Kids

Non-native speakers of the English language tend to carry the intonation, accent or pronunciation from their mother tongue into their English speech, or create innovative pronunciations for English sounds not found in the speaker's first language. (The language spoken by a person before their second language has reached the stage of native speaker or near-native speaker competence is known as an interlanguage.)

Grammar differences (for example the lack or surplus of tense, number, gender etc.) in different languages often lead to grammatical mistakes that are tell-tale signs of the origin. Sometimes non-verbal body language also gives away the origin of the speaker.

Another factor is how the English language is taught to young school children. The pronunciation students use will be affected by that used by their teachers. Thus, there may be distinctive features of pronunciation in those speakers from a particular country, such as India, Hong Kong, Malaysia, etc.

Non-native accents by region in alphabetical order:


1 External links


The back-trilled "R", also found in Scottish speech patterns, features strongly in Afrikaans. Those with Afrikaans as a mother tongue will pronounce 'k' or 'c' as 'g', 'p' as 'b', and 't' as 'd'. Linguistically speaking, their [p t k]'s are unaspirated which sounds like [b d g] to many speakers of English.

  • Afrikaans → uffree-gawns
  • Cape Town → guyp-down
  • Pretoria → bri-dorr-ia


  • Some of the vowels are mispronounced; Classical Arabic only has .
  • p is often pronounced like b (or sometimes f) - Arabic doesn't have
  • v is sometimes pronounced like f, the word vitamin is faytamin in Arabic - Arabic doesn't have [v]
  • Arabic only has (in some countries pronounced like and in Egypt [g]), hence, and are often confused
  • Using rhoticity
  • Their [r]'s are trilled

Black South African languages

English as spoken by black South Africans is influenced by intonation and pronunciation of African languages:

  • work → weck
  • win → ween
  • car → kah
  • book → boohk
  • dirty → detty
  • garden → gaddin
  • fast → fust
  • town → taun


  • 'th' as in "the" or "then" is often pronounced as 'd'
  • 'th' as in "thong" or "thorough" may be pronounced as 't'
  • sometimes "he" or "she" could be used where "it" should; on the other hand, ships could end with "it"
  • overuse of definite articles, especially in phrases whose Bulgarian equivalents require articles, like "the Bulgarians usually..." instead of "Bulgarians usually..."
  • lack of differentiation between [x] (as in "Jose") and [h] (as in "hot")
  • voiced consonants at the end of the words may be pronounced as voiceless, like "brink" instead of "bring"
  • tendency to pronounce as in words like "sun", "up", "under"
  • 'r' may be pronounced as an alveolar trill, absent in English, or with a hard rhotic accent even when at the end of words (like "car", "fire" etc.)

Cantonese Chinese

see also Hong Kong English

  • many differences in pronunciation due to the large differences in the sounds used by English and Chinese language, and from the teachers
  • 'r', read as 'l' sound and sometimes 'w' sound. (opposite of Japanese accent)
  • non-rhotic
  • 'v', read as 'w' sound.
  • 'wh', read as 'w' sound (most native speakers of English no longer distinguish between <wh> and <w>, however)
  • 'th', read as 'f' sound.
  • 'n' and 'l' often confused (these two sounds are allophones in Cantonese)
  • Differences in ending sounds.
  • Often drop articles like "the" and "a"
  • Difficulty with verb tenses and plurals in general, as they have no direct equivalence in Chinese grammar.
  • Confusion of 'he', 'she', and sometimes 'it', as all have the same pronunciation in Chinese.
  • trouble with numbers larger than ten thousand, in the Chinese language, ten thousand is read as one myriad, 100 thousand as 10 myriad, one million as 100 myriad etc. Chinese speakers often pause before saying big numbers because of the mental conversion taking place in their head.


  • Devoicing of terminal voiced consonants
  • Lack of distinction between [e] and []
  • Above mentioned combined, the following words will all sound like "bet": "bad", "bed", "bat", "bet"
  • Frequent voicing of 's' between vowels, and especially after 'n', 'l', and 'r', as in "insert" or "increasing" (becoming "inzert" and "increazing")
  • Prevalent mispronouncing of "purple" or "Murphy": the 'u' in these words is mistakenly believed to represent about the same sound as in "but", often prolonged to the quality of "bar"
  • 'h' (as in "heart") gets "more voiced"
  • Terminal 'l' (as in "bill") of the same quality as the initial 'l' in "lip"
  • Frequent lack of aspiration on unvoiced consonants, making "park" and "bark" harder to distinguish
  • Difficulty to consistently produce distinction between 'v' and 'w'
  • Prevalent misconception of 'oo' as representing a long vowel where it should be short (thus rhyming words as "book", "hook" and "foot" with "loot" instead of "put")
  • Frequent pronouncing -ing as "ink", thus rhyming "thing" with "think"
  • Some trouble with 'th' sounds


  • Pronouncing voiced consonants as voiceless (d->t, v->f, z->s), especially at the end of the words; for example, "pod" and "pot" are pronounced the same.
  • The 'th' sounds do not exist in Dutch. Most commonly, voiced 'th' becomes 'd' ("though" sounds like "dough") and unvoiced 'th' becomes 's' ("think" sounds like "sink").
  • Stereotypically, a Dutch accent makes s sound like something near sh. Usually this indicates that the speaker grew up in or around Amsterdam.
  • Pronouncing 'r' either slightly rolling, as in Dutch, or hypercorrecting it to 'w'.
  • The pronunciation of vowels differs widely across Dutch dialects. All dialects lack the 'u' in "but", the 'o' in "pot" and the 'a' in "pan", which usually comes out indistinguishable from "pen". Most dialects lack the 'oe' in "toe".
  • Speakers from Limburg can often be identified by their intonation, even when speaking English or most any other foreign language. Their native dialect has various tones, and charactistically sentences end in the up-and-down tone.

East Asia and Southeast Asia (including Vietnamese, Chinese)

  • Due to the syllabic nature of their native languages, East Asians tend to drop or amplify the ending sound of English words, e.g. "an", "ant", & "and" sound the same.
  • When raising the tone at the end of a question "You did what?", often the last syllable is lengthened and sounds almost like it is being sung.


  • The best indicator for a Finnish accent is the absence of the English tonal variation. In Finnish, the tone is always slightly falling, and speakers are usually unable to hear e.g. the questioning tone. This gives the impression of "sadness". The speed is usually slow, which, again is how Finns usually speak. There is an absence of the word "please", because there is no equivalent in Finnish.
  • In Finland, the traditional teaching policy focuses on writing with correct spelling and grammar, but pronunciation or usage gets less attention. This might lead to pronunciations imitating the spellings, e.g. "font" is pronounced , unlike the native English . Another example are the geminates, which are written as double consonants in Finnish. This leads to "inner" being pronounced , instead of . (The pronunciation that should be taught is like that of Oxford University.)
  • Voicing (p vs. b, etc.) is not phonemic in Finnish, and due to this, voiced consonants may be devoiced. This includes:
  • Variation of voicing inside a long word shows the problems, even if short words are correctly pronounced. For example, bed, pet and bet are distinct, but probably becomes propably or even propaply.
  • Devoicing of 'b' into 'p', or confusing them when they appear together. This is because in native Finnish pronunciation, 'b' is often pronounced identically to 'p', e.g. both baari (bar, pub) and paari (par) are pronounced paari. The mispronunciation bubi "pub" is found in Finnish.
  • Sometimes, 'k' and 'g' are both pronounced 'k', e.g. inkredient, where the "k" is a devoiced "g"
  • The English voiced sibilant 'z' becomes the unvoiced 's', e.g. roses becomes . When the spelling is 's', it is always pronounced 's'. When the spelling is 'z', attempts at voicing might be observed e.g. with haze vs. hays, but usually these are identical with the latter.
  • As in German, the letter 'z' is a foreign way to write 'ts' in the Finnish alphabet (e.g. pizza [pitsa]). When it occurs initially, this pronunciation might be used, e.g. zone might be [tsoun] (or even [dʒoun]). It may be confused with the voiced affricate [dʒ] as in jungle, such that e.g. zealous and jealous are indistinct. English contrasts [zeləs] and [dʒeləs], respectively, but in the accent, both are pronounced [dʒelos] (or the even devoiced [tʃelos]).
  • The difference between voiced 'th' as in the [ə] and unvoiced 'th' as in thin [θɪn] is not even heard, and usually the pronunciation is not dental at all, but [t] or aspirated [th]. For example, the might be pronounced [thø]. Slight voicing (towards a 'd') might be added. Finnish speakers regard 'th' a 't' sound, thus fricative sounds ('s' or 'z') do not replace 'th'.
  • Neither the difference between voiced and unvoiced ] postalveolars is heard, e.g. pleasure is pronounced with [s] or . The affricate as in "jump" becomes unvoiced i.e. , which might subsequently erode to .
  • The sound (she) does not exist in Finnish, and the difference [s] (sea) and (she) is not phonemic. Nevertheless, speakers are usually capable of distinguishing the two, but mistakes happen.
  • The Finnish set of vowels is extensive enough to contain the relevant English vowels, and results in little vowel abuse. Because Finnish is a vowel-rich language, the different kinds of vowels and diphthongs are heard correctly. However, Finnish contains only "clear" vowels [a e i o u y æ ø], which may replace some of the English "unclear" vowels [ə ɜ ʌ ɒ ɑ ɪ ɔ υ] in bad pronunciation. In Finnish, the vowels do not change according to the surrounding consonants. When they do in English, the impression is that the vowels are "unclear" or "slurred". Examples:
  • The and may be transformed into [ø] or [æ]. The word "baker" might be [beikkør] instead of [beikəɹ], or "bird" [bɜːd] may become [bøːd].
  • Similarly, when there is an 'a' in spelling but a schwa in pronunciation, it is pronounced . The word "American" might be pronounced [æ'merikæn] instead of [ə'merɪkən].
  • Various English [a]-like phonemes become [a], like "tuck" [tʌk] -> [tak].
  • The glottal stop [ʔ] is never used in place of [t], like some English dialects do.
  • The English "tense" and "lax" (i.e. vowels contrasted by quantity and advanced tongue root) are completely replaced with their respective quantity-contrasted vowels (short and long vowels), which differ only by length, not by quality like in English. E.g. "bit" is pronounced , not , where [bit] is otherwise the same, but only quicker than "beat" [biːt] (correct English ).
  • Aspiration does not exist in Finnish and it is not heard, i.e. "top" [thop] and "stop" [stop] are only differentiated by the 's'. However, sometimes Finnish-speakers pronounce a geminate instead in the medial position. (Finnish phonetics do not allow initial or final geminates.) Geminates might also be used incorrectly, e.g. Inttnet ['inttøːnet] instead of ['ɪntənet].
  • The English approximant R is usually pronounced rolled [r] as in Finnish, or imitated in some innovative, but incorrect way, e.g. by creaking the vocal cords. However, many speakers do use the approximant R.
  • The sounds V and W are reduced to the Finnish V [ʋ], which is something between them, i.e. a V without any fricative quality.
  • Due to Finnish always stressing the first syllable, English words accented on the second syllable are often misstressed, e.g. "vocabulary" is ['vokæbulæri] instead of the correct [və'kbjυləri].
  • In Finnish, there is only one pronoun for "he" and "she", which may be difficult to some speakers. Moreover, the default pronoun in the other language Finns usually know, Swedish, is not the masculine "han" (he) as in English, but the feminine "hon" (she).
  • In Finnish, there are no articles like "the" and "a", which might be forgotten.


  • 'th' is often pronounced as 'd' or 't' (especially among Quebecois French speakers) or 'z' (especially among speakers from France)
  • voiceless 'th' may be pronounced as 'f' or 's'
  • as in child, is often pronounced as as in Charlotte
  • as in jam, is often pronounced as as in Jacques
  • May drop 'h' sound or insert 'h' sound in front of vowels
  • rolled or uvular


  • Non-rhotic accent (doesn't apply to all accents)
  • th pronounced as s or z. (German lacks both [θ] and [].)
  • s sometimes also pronounced as z or vice versa. (Standard German lacks initial [s]; some dialects, however, such as Bavarian, have only [s] and lack [z] entirely).
  • Hyperurbanism: <design> with [s] instead of [z].
  • [b d g] at the end of a word may be pronounced as [p t k] (terminal consonant de-voicing). In a German accent this is usually the last thing to disappear.
  • as in jam, is often pronounced as .
  • Since German adverbs are identical in form to adjectives, Germans often drop the ending -ly from English adverbs.
  • Lack of distinction between : thus "man" and "men" are pronounced the same.
  • Difficulty with the English r. (The German r is the voiced uvular sound or [r] as in Italian. Some types of German may have English-type [ɹ] sounds.
  • w pronounced like v or vice versa. German lacks [w], so there is a tendency to substitute [v]. However, Bavarian also lacks [v], and Bavarians usually learn [w] more easily than [v]. Also, among speakers of standard German, more advanced learners may invert their usual error out of hypercorrectness and end up pronouncing v like w, or pronounce both v and w as (a sound halfway between v and w).
  • "qu" may sound like "kv" rather than "ku" (German prounciation of qu); quick becomes kv-vick.
  • Use of "he/she" pronouns for animals and inanimate objects.
  • Incorrect stressing of the syllables (in German mainly the first syllable is stressed, as in Deutschland). Even advanced learners have difficulty when place names are stressed on the final syllable (e.g. Aberdeen).


  • Usually rolled [r]
  • (ship) often becomes [s] (sip)
  • as in child, is often pronounced as 'ts'
  • as in jam, is often pronounced as 'dz'
  • [h] is sometimes pronounced [x] (like the Spanish: "Juan", German: "Bach")
  • intervocalic g often pronounced as y
  • 'nt' becomes 'nd' (Indernet)
  • 'mp' becomes 'mb', especially if followed by a vowel


  • The most common Hebrew dialect has only 5 vowels (though some distinguish between an additional four, normally pronounced the same) and generally does not use diphthongs (except for foreign borrowings); Hebrew speakers may therefore mispronounce some of the English vowels.
  • th [] as in "the" is often pronounced as d (less common as z).
  • th as in "think" is often pronounced as t, s or f.
  • Hebrew uses a palatalized ("soft") [l'], whereas English uses a non-palatalized ("hard") [l]
  • Hebrew speakers of European descent usually use an r that is produced in the back, without rolling the tongue, best comparable to the French r.

The Indian Subcontinent

  • Fast speech tempo with choppy syllables.
  • Rhythmic variation of pitch.
  • Questions worded like statements. Detected by native speakers because of stress on verb in case of questions.
  • Use of the present continuous/progressive ("-ing") rather than simple present: "He has a car" becomes "He is having a car."
  • Use of the rhotic 'r' [doesn't apply to all dialects].
  • Trilled 'r'
  • English alveolars are perceived by many native Indic and Dravidian language speakers as allophones of retroflex consonants, when Subcontinental dental phonemes are in fact more appropriate equivalents to the English alveolars. This leads to the "hollow" pronunciation of English by many Asian Indians.
  • Shaking the head instead of nodding to indicate affirmation.
  • The use of the double-positive, "Yeah, right," which in colloquial native English is a flippant way of saying "No" but to an Indian speaker of English is merely a double affirmation of correctness
  • Incorrect aspiration.
  • Confusing 'p' and 'f' (among North Indians).
  • Use of "isn't it?" in place of all other tag questions: "He is tall, isn't it?"
  • Vocabulary variations: "stay" instead of "live" (in a particular place), "cabin" instead of "office", "sit with" for "have a meeting with".

See also Indian English.


  • 'i' as in 'if' is pronounced 'ee' - similar to how '' is pronounced in Icelandic.
  • Devoicing of [b d g] in all positions


  • Words are pronounced in a rhotic fashion - that is, the 'r' sound is almost always pronounced, even where an English speaker with a Received Pronunciation accent would silence the letter, e.g. car, father. This rhoticity is common in many very large English populations, most particularly in North America. Thus, it is actually a valid variation within the norms of spoken English.
  • The 'th' sound as in 'theme' is rendered as a dental stop, similar to the 't' in Spanish. This can lead to confusion with English 't'. Similarly 'th' as in 'there' is pronounced as 'd'.
  • Some older people pronounce the 'v' sound in 'video' as 'w' in 'witch.' This is because neither letter is native to the Irish language, and 'v' was first accepted as a translation for both in loan words. The English 'w' sound (as in washing) is associated with the vocative lenition 'h' in Irish. That is, where h follows some letters like b, the sound changes: bh sounds like 'v'. Speakers subconsiously try to remove this h, causing the difference.
  • Aspiration of consonants- pronunciation of 'h' as 'haitch', and 'wh' as in 'why' as 'hw' ('hwy').
  • Adding of vowel between consonants- film is pronounced as 'fillum'. This is thought to be related to similar forms in Irish. For example, 'seancha' (storyteller) is pronunced 'shannaKEE', and 'tionchar' (influence) is pronunced 'tyunniker', though there is no literal justification for doing so.

See also: Hiberno-English


  • Tendency to pronounce as [i u] (ex: "fill" => "feel", "put" => "poot"), since there is no lax vowel in Italian.
  • Tendency to pronounce as ("singer" rhymes with "finger") as in Italian [ŋ] is an allophone of [n] before velar stops.
  • Tendency to pronounce [sl sm sn] as [zl zm zn], as in Italian [s] isn't found before voiced consonants.
  • Tendency to pronounce as [a] ("hut" => British "heart" or American "hot"), or in some words (Italians pronounce "one sun" as [wan san] and "won son" as ).
  • Tendency to pronounce as ("cot" => "caught"), or, more rarely, as /a/. (This cot-caught merger also occurs with a large number of North American native speakers of English.)
  • Tendency to replace with a [f] or dental [t].
  • Tendency to replace [] with a dental [d].
  • Tendency to pronounce [t d] as dental stops rather than alveolar ones.
  • Tendency to pronounce [p t k] as unaspirated stops.
  • Tendency to add soft vowel sounds to English words that end in consonants, e.g. "I like-a the house-a" or "I eat-a chocolate". This happens because almost all Italian words end in vowels.
  • Tendency to say "dee" instead of "the".
  • Tendency to pronounce "aren't" as it's spelt, that is two-syllabe AH-rent.
  • Tendency to pronounce "tomb" as instead than [tum].
  • In diphtongs the second vowel is tense and lasts almost as long as the first, and sometimes they are pronounced as two syllabes, that is "toy" => "TAW-ee", "cow" => "KAH-oo"
  • is often pronounced as /o/
  • Tendency to lengthen the short "ate" sound in words like "chocolate" (i.e. pronounced chocolut by native speakers) to the "ate" sound in "late".
  • The 'r' sound is almost always pronounced, since in Italian the 'r' sound is very strong.
  • Tendency to drop aspirated 'h' sounds, e.g. "appy" instead of "happy". This happens because there is no aspirated 'h' in Italian.
  • Tendency to make double consonants geminate, e.g. the two p's in "happy" become a longer 'p' sound: "happppy". This happens because geminate consonants are distinctive in Italian.
  • Tendency to pronounce 'z' as [tz] or [dz] instead of [z] (this is rare), because those are the pronunciations of the letter 'z' in Italian.
  • Schwas are either pronounced properly or replaced with a full vowel depending on the word, the same goes with the rhotic vowel in "fur".


  • Tendency to confuse /l/ and /r/, since both sounds don't exist in Japanese. Both are often pronounced as [ɺ].
  • Might use [fu] and [hu] interchangeably as both are similar to the Japanese [ɸu]. (For instance, "who" might be pronounced as "foo"; "fish" can come out as "whish".)
  • 'f' before vowels except 'u' are sometimes pronounced 'p'.
  • Similar to Spanish in the lacking of the [v] sound. It now has two accepted pronunciations, [b] and [w] (i.e. video becomes bideo or wideo, though it is usually the former).
  • Tend to insert vowels (usually o or u) after non-prevocalic consonants other than n, e.g. sound as soundo; Gatsby as Gatsuby.
  • Words ending in the "ch", "sh", "zh", and "j" sounds get an [i] added to the end - e.g. Bush as Bushi
  • May have trouble distinguishing 'm' and 'n' before bilabial consonants (b, m, & p)
  • Often drop articles like "the" and "a".
  • No distinguishing between singular and plural nouns.
  • Trouble with numbers larger than ten thousand, in the Japanese language, ten thousand is read as one myriad, 100 thousand as 10 myriad, one million as 100 myriad etc. Japanese speakers often pause before saying big numbers because of the mental conversion taking place in their head. (Of course, English speakers have the same problem when saying large numbers in Japanese.)
  • 'Si' becomes 'shi' (basic, similar, abc...).
  • 'Ti' and 'di' often become chi and ji, respectively.
  • 'Tu' and 'du' often become tsu and ju, respectively.
  • 'Th' pronounced as 's', 'sh', 'z', or 'd', since Japanese lacks both and [] "Theater" might be pronounced with a [ʃ].
  • Often misrepresent schwa sounds as short [a] sounds.
  • Speech tends to be non-rhotic, though the schwas are replaced with [a] as previously mentioned.
  • Tendency to speak in Japanese syllables. This is known as "katakana English".
  • Some well-educated Japanese people hypercorrect words containing : For example, "sheet" becomes "seat".
  • Another hypercorrection is dropping vowels (especially o and u) that fall at the end of a word. Examples include "potat" and "Toront".
  • Difficulty pronouncing short a, i, and u sounds, since these sounds exist in very few languages outside of English.


  • Difficulty distinguishing 'r' and 'l' sounds.
  • Rhotic pronunciation
  • final [r] is sometimes pronounced [l] because Korean words do not end in [r].
  • The labiodental fricative sounds do not exist in Korean, so 'v' becomes 'b' ("very" => "berry"), and 'f' becomes 'p' ("fun" => "pun").
  • Unable to distinguish 'j' and 'z'. The names 'Jack' and 'Zack' sound exactly the same to most Koreans.
  • is pronounced as , thus 'thing' becomes 'sing'.
  • is pronounced as .
  • Tendency to add schwa sounds to words ending with consonants (except 'k', 'l', 'm', 'n', 'p', and 't') or cluster consonants, due to the way English words are represented in the Korean sound system. Words ending in 'ch', 'sh', 'zh', and 'j' consonant sounds often get an 'i' added to the end, for example 'catch' becomes 'catchi'. For initial cluster consonants, a schwa is added between the consonants.
  • Final consonants 'b', 'd', and 'g' are sometimes devoiced.
  • Plurals are often omitted. For example, the TV show Friends is prononced 'Prend', followed by a schwa.
  • Short 'a' and short 'e' vowel sounds are pronounced identically.
  • Short 'o' sounds are lengthened.
  • Short 'i' sounds are lengthened.
  • Unaccented 'a', 'i', 'o', and 'u' are pronounced in full vowels, except ending in 'l' and 'r'.


  • Difficulty distinguishing between 'i' and 'ee' 'shit' - native Malay speakers pronounce 'sheet' as 'shit'. 'Bit' is pronounced as 'beet'.
  • 'Th' is pronounced as 'd', hence 'this' as 'dis'.

Mandarin Chinese

  • Trouble with many non-prevocalic consonants, since Mandarin only permits "n", "ng", and "r" in non-prevocalic positions.
  • Trouble with two "th" sounds ([θ] and []), as the dental sound does not occur in Mandarin pronunciation, e.g. "this" is pronounced as "zis", "think" is pronounced as "sink".
  • "v" may be pronounced as "f", "w"; this letter is almost never used in Pinyin
  • Voiced sounds pronounced as their unvoiced counterparts, eg: "dock" for "dog", "root" for "rude". Mandarin does not distinguish [p] vs. [b], [t] vs. [d], [k] vs. [g], etc. (these letters represent aspirated pairs, not voiced pairs, in pinyin)
  • Confusion of "he", "she", and sometimes "it", as all have the same pronunciation in Mandarin Chinese.
  • Often drop articles like "the" and "a"
  • Difficulty with verb tenses and plurals in general, as they have no direct equivalence in Mandarin grammar.
  • trouble with numbers larger than ten thousand. In the Chinese language, ten thousand is read as one myriad, 100 thousand as 10 myriad, one million as 100 myriad etc. (See Chinese numerals) Chinese speakers often pause before saying big numbers because of the mental conversion taking place in the head. (Of course, English speakers have the same problem when saying large numbers in Mandarin.)


Many Nigerians are educated entirely in English, but their first language, spoken at home, is a native Nigerian language, such as Yoruba, Hausa, Igbo or Ibibio.

Nigerian English is generally non-rhotic. Due to their absence from Nigerian languages, and [] tend to be replaced by [t] and [d], respectively. Several vowels present in English are also absent from Nigerian languages, and get replaced differently in different parts of the country. For instance, "bird" ( in RP) is pronounced variously as and . predominates in the West of the country, while /be:d/ is more common in the East. /V/ is replaced by [o] or [e], so "cut" () is pronounced or /ket/, /ket/ being Eastern. The RP diphthong is generally pronounced as a long vowel, , and the diphthong is pronounced as a long vowel . Some speakers whose native language is Yoruba tend to insert [h] at the beginning of words that begin with a vowel. Some speakers whose native language is Hausa pronounce [p] as [f]. Some speakers replace [j] with , so "yet" is pronounced like "jet", and some replace with in certain contexts, giving "wish" in the place of "which". There's a syllabic rhythm to speech, and unstressed syllables are often pronounced distinctly.

Words from Nigerian languages are often injected into speech. Questions are sometimes constructed as a statement followed by "sha" and a rising tone. Another way of constructing a question is to use "shebi" or "abi" as a marker at the beginning of the sentence. The meanings of "no" and "yes" are reversed for negative questions ("Yes, I have no bananas"), relative to standard English. People often say "I'm coming" as they go away, meaning they'll be back soon.


  • It is hard to differentiate Persians, since they have really no difficulty pronouncing special sounds (excluded from the English alphabet) like:
    • [x] (like the Spanish: "Juan"),
    • (like the French: "Jack"),
    • (like the English "child"),
    • [z] (like "zoo"),
    • (like "ship).
    They have an equivalent consonant for all these phonemes in their alphabet.
  • Persians tend to have some difficulties, when learning English, to pronounce "th"; both as thing and this, which of course sounds like "ting" and "dis". Persian doesn't have and []. Also [w] like the word walk, can sound like "vak". Persian only has /v/.
  • Persian can sound very melodic and soft with many variations. It's absolutely different from the Arabic language, contrary to what some might (for any reason) wrongly expect at first.
  • They usually "drag" on the last vowel in fairly long words, while the first is "stressed"; the country Andorra might sound like "ahndoraaaa"
  • They can trill their [r]s if they want to.
  • Persian can also sound nasal, hence 'Iran' is pronounced as 'ih-rawnh'.
  • Double consonants not in use in Persian are sometimes expanded, sometimes prefixed, eg: "be-room" for broom, or "e-stop" for stop.
  • Final -ng may become -nk and -s might disappear, as "studyink economic".
  • The vowel sounds resemble closely those of Finnish, and in general, the accent is similar.


  • Tagalog and many other native languages do not have a number of phonemes present in English and so there is a tendency to substitute these phonemes especially if the speaker in not fluent in English: [f] as [p] and [v] as [b]. In addition, the following sounds are often interchanged: as [dj], as [sj], and as [tj].
  • Tagalog also has only five vowels so the many vowel sounds in English are usually mapped to the nearest-sounding existing vowel.
  • tendency to add the 'i' sound before words that start with s+consonant (e.g., sport becomes is-ports)
  • often use "he" for females due to lack of gender in personal pronouns in the Filipino language.
  • can't seem to pronounce the [z] sound, instead substituting [s], so that lose sounds like loose.
  • Rhotic speech, like American English way.
  • The [r]'s are trilled except before consonant or at the end of the word.


  • Trouble with 'th', pronounced as 'd', 't' or - less commonly - 'v', 'f'. (Polish lacks both and [].) Examples: think --> fink, the --> de.
    There also existed an "old school" of pronouncing th as 's' or 'z', like brother --> "brozzer", smith --> "smiss".
  • Voiced stops ('d', 'g', 'b' or 'v') at the end of a word or before voiceless stops may become voiceless ('t', 'k', 'p' or 'f'). Examples: Paddington --> "paddinkton".
  • Trouble differentiating similar vowels like . Example: both "man" and "men" are pronounced .
  • A few commonly used false friends, most prominently "actually" with intended meaning of "at present".
  • Generally all sounds are very audible: The Beatles --> /dE bitEls/.
  • Problems with articles.
  • Use of "he/she" pronouns for animals and inanimate objects.

Portuguese (Brazil)

  • In several areas of Brazil the T consonant before a Portuguese I vowel is pronounced as the English CH. So, words like teacher or strip-tease may be often pronounced as "cheecher" or "strip-cheese".
  • In some areas of Brazil the D sound is pronounced as G, do Dj sounds like GJ.
  • See next section, most of the Portugal's Portuguese characteristics described there also occur.
  • Common mistakes due to Portuguese cognates with different meanings ("false-friends") :

- "deception" used when the intended word was "disappointment" - "actual" used when the intention was "current" - "to pretend" used when the intention was "to intend"

Portuguese (Portugal)

  • 'th' as in "the" or "then" is often pronounced as 'd'
  • 'th' as in "thong" or "thorough" may be pronounced as 't' or 's'
  • 'ch' as in "child", may be pronounced as 'sh'
  • 'j' as in "jam", is often pronounced as 'j' as in "Jacques"
  • usually drop 'h' sound
  • 'i' as in "bit" or "tip" pronounced like 'ee'
  • occasionally pronounce 'oo' in "door" or "Moore" as 'oo' in "good"
  • usually pronounce "apple" as 'ayple'
  • 'au' in "naught" or 'aw' in "dawn" pronounced like 'o' in "not" or "pot" (Many North American native speakers no longer distinguish between these vowels, however).


  • 'R' may be pronounced as an alveolar trill, absent in English.
  • 'W' may be pronounced like 'v'.
  • 'Th' may be pronounced like 's' in words like "thin", "path" and like 'z' in words like "that", "father", etc.
  • Consonants d, t, n may be pronounced as dental, rather than alveolar
  • Consonants d, t, n (both in alveolar and dental rendering) and 'r' may be palatalized before front vowels [i], [e]. Sometimes it may happen before [u], especially when in the corresponding borrowed Russian word the letter Yu is used (cf.: dune, дюна (dyuna)).
  • Voiced consonants at the end of the words may be pronounced as voiceless (for example, "made" is pronounced as "mate").
  • Lack of differentiation between [x] (as in "Jose") and [h] (as in "hot").
  • General failure to differentiate between many vowels that are neighbors in the vowel space.
  • The diphthongs 'ey', 'eye', and 'oy' sound with the counsonant [j] sound instead of the short 'i' glide, i. e. high sounds like [haj], rather than [hai].
  • "He"/"she" may be used when referring to any larger animals.
  • Lack of articles.


  • often a palatalized dental [r'] is used before vowels, which is absent in English.
  • lack of differentiation between [x] (as in "Jose") and [h] (as in "hot")
  • often pronounce 'w' as 'v'
  • sound 'th' is often pronounced as 't' or even 'd'
  • no diphthongs
  • sometimes "he" or "she" could be used where "it" should; on the other hand, ships could end with "it"
  • articles may lack
  • in writing, adjectives (English music, Serbian language) and multi-word proper names (Spanish empire, United States of America) may not be capitalised


  • Spanish lacks many vowels present in English, often causing the following changes:
    • becomes , or even
    • becomes
    • becomes
    • becomes the vowel it represents in the written word.
    • becomes
    • (British) or (American) becomes
    • In general the pronunciation of vowels will tend to follow the Spanish pronounciation of their written form.
  • unaspirated 't', 'k', and 'p'.
  • trouble with and , which don't exist in Spanish.
  • is mispronounced as by many uneducated speakers, since that sound doesn't exist in Spanish.
  • pronunciation of as , as the letter "v" is pronounced in both peninsular and Latin American Spanish.
  • if a word begins with + consonant, an is added to the beginning ("Spanish" => "Espanish"), because +consonant does not exist at the beginning of a word in Spanish (actually, this problem identifies Spanish-speakers when speaking any other language).
  • voiced 'th' is often mispronounced as 'd', and voiceless 'th' as 't' (most speakers from Spain rarely have this difficulty).
  • in some places, voiceless 'th' may be pronounced as 'f'.
  • intervocalic , , and , are simplified to the corresponding approximants, as it is done in standard and Latin American Spanish (actually, this problem identifies Spanish-speakers when speaking any other language).
  • mispronounciation of final sound as (this is rare), e.g. "welcome" -> "welcon", because this is how it is pronounced in the few Spanish words ending in "m" (most notably, "lbum" and "rquiem").
  • Trouble with the final sound - it either becomes a sound ("sit" => "sick") or dropped completely ("tint" => "tin"), because native Spanish words never end with the letter "t" (actually, this problem identifies Spanish-speakers when speaking most other languages).
  • the "r" is either trilled as in "run" or clipped as in "history". (Initial 'r' is trilled strongly, and it identifies Spanish speakers.)
  • Pronounced in rhotic way. (non-rhotic in Gibraltarian Spanish and some dialects of Castilian Spanish.)
  • is either pronounced as or dropped. The former is because the closest Spanish sound to is ; the latter because "h" is silent in Spanish (except in "ch", which is pronounced correctly).

See also: Spanglish.


Stress is often placed on the penultimate syllable: newspaper is newspaper.


  • Sing-songy intonation. Swedes often speak English with a melodic intonation, ending sentences on an up-note, much parodied (The Swedish Chef from The Muppet Show is a well known example.)
  • 'th' is often pronounced as 'd', 't' or 'f'
  • as Swedish lacks a [z], it is often pronounced [s]
  • [tʃ] as in child, is often pronounced as [ʃ] or "shaield". (the [ʃ] could be caused by mix-up with Swedish orthography, where ch often has a similar sound.)
  • [dʒ] as in jump is sometimes pronounced as [ʒ] (pleasure) or even [j] (yes), (the [j] could be caused by mix-up with Swedish orthography, where j has this sound.)
  • Frequently use the wrong person of verbs (e.g. "they is"). Swedish verbs do not inflect for person.
  • Difficulty with the Rs (southern parts of Sweden), sounds more like "gh".
  • The [ʃ] sound when written as ti (e.g., national, ratio) is often pronounced as [tʃ]
  • Problems with diphtongs. The [aɪ] would become [aj], and [aʊ] would become [av].
  • Words written with rs, rt, rd, rn and rl often turn to retroflex variants of the consonant following r.

See also: Swenglish

Swiss German

  • devoiced in all positions—lenis and fortis plosives may differ in length and aspiration, yet Swiss German dialects do not have any fully voiced plosives
  • some dialects have instead of aspirated , hence some speakers use this sound.
  • often pronounced like or ; the dialects don't have
  • may be devoiced; the dialects only have
  • may be devoiced: the dialects only have
  • Dialects who have an phoneme (e.g. Basel, Zurich) usually use this to represent RP ; others (e.g. Graubuenden) however use
  • Especially older speakers use instead of ; other speakers generally use a variant of [a]


(presented in IPA phonemes)
  • is trilled instead of retroflexed
  • at the end of a word is pronounced as or
  • , , and are indistinguishable and pronounced as
  • is pronounced as or
  • is pronounced as (devoiced)
  • is pronounced as (devoiced)
  • is pronounced as at the beginning of a word
  • is pronounced as at the end of a word
  • is pronounced as
  • is pronounced as


  • Confusion of 'ir' or 'er' sound with 'ar' - 'birth' sounds like 'barth'

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