Fun fact about being a Mediacorp radio deejay: while they are subjected to pronunciation tests two to three times a year just to make sure that they still know their “salmon” from “sell-mon”, talking up a storm on-air is not all about extremely proper pronunciation.

“We speak to be understood,” declares Class 95FM jock Vernon A, who gamely agreed to do 8 DAYS’ pronunciation challenge along with fellow Mutton Justin Ang, Class 95FM DJ Yasminne Cheng, plus livewire duo Sonia Chew and Joakim Gomez from 987FM.

Of course, things got a little competitive. And yes, even the best of DJs grapple with the word “geoduck” (surprise, surprise, the rudely-shaped clam’s name is not pronounced “jio-duck”). Okay guys, we understand what you’re saying. But nobody wants to be the clueless dude who orders ginger ale in a restaurant by calling out, “I’ll have a ginger ahleh”, right?

So check out what we learnt from our radio jocks’ hilarious but insightful pronunciation quizzes, bloopers and all. The correct pronunciation of the words will be revealed at the end of the video. 

Each DJ is graded based on 10 random, hard-to-pronounce words we give them. And in case you’re wondering (or speak with an American twang), all words are corrected according to British pronunciation from the Cambridge Dictionary for the purposes of this totally unscientific pronunciation quiz.



THE MUTTONS (VERNON A, 46 & JUSTIN ANG, 36), CLASS 95FM

8 DAYS: What’s the one word you tend to mispronounce on-air or in real life?
JUSTIN ANG:
Fillet o’ Fish. Is it fee-lay, or fil-lert? [Ed: We asked McDonald’s, aka home of the Fillet o’ Fish, and the verdict: It’s ‘fee-lay’ o’ Fish. You’re welcome, Justin!]

VERNON A: I don’t think I mispronounce words, since I have never been corrected (laughs).
  
JUSTIN: Oh, I know which word he always pronounces very badly. [The Vietnamese name] ‘Phuc’. It’s pronounced as ‘fook’, but he always says the bad word!

What’s one word people mispronounce that makes you cringe?
JUSTIN:
‘Japanese’. Spend a few hours in [Japanese supermarket] Meidi-Ya and you will hear people say, “Jap-pee-nese.” It’s Jap-pern-nese. For 15 years of my life, I also pronounced “spaghetti” as “scapetti” ’cos that’s how my mum says it.

VERNON: Do you mean growing up you go to Italian restaurants and never wondered why they only had spaghetti on the menu and not ‘scapetti’? I have a friend who always say “caterise” instead of “categorise”. But I’m used to his way of talking so I understood what he was saying. What is the most memorable on-air pronunciation blooper you have had so far?

JUSTIN: We speak so fast on-air, so once in a while, “Bluno Mars” will come out. Vernon once had to read the news, and he said: “The government made six million dollies.” He meant dollars.

VERNON: I really admire the news guys.

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SONIA CHEW, 26 & JOAKIM GOMEZ, 30, 987FM

8 DAYS: What’s the one word you tend to mispronounce on-air or in real life?
JOAKIM GOMEZ:
I always trip when I have to say, “the decision”. I don’t know why! I will go out of my way not to say those words. 

SONIA CHEW: Sixth. It’s just really hard to pronounce with the extra ‘th’ behind. Try saying “sixth” repeatedly!

What’s one word people mispronounce that makes you cringe?
SONIA:
When people say colleague as ‘ker-league’. It’s ‘call-league’.

JOAKIM: If my friends mispronounce words, I gently correct them. When [American rapper] Kanye West was just starting out, my friend kept calling him “Kane West”. In the end, we went to [the nowdefunct] That CD Shop at Pacific Plaza to confirm the pronunciation with the sales staff. It’s Kahn-yay West!

What is the most memorable on-air pronunciation blooper you have had so far?
SONIA:
Can I just say, last time Joakim introduced [‘Call Me Maybe’ singer] Carly Rae Jepsen as Carly Rae ‘Yep-sen’. It was really funny (laughs).

JOAKIM: I once referred to Beyoncé’s sister, Solange, as “So-lan-gay”. ’Cos you pronounce Beyoncé as Beeyon-say right? It was actually [closer to] “So-launch”. Thankfully, Sonia and I are a duo and we just make fun of each other when things like this happen!

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YASMINNE CHENG, 39, CLASS 95FM

8 DAYS: What’s the one word you tend to mispronounce on-air or in real life?

YASMINNE CHENG: I once passed by [the mall] Velocity @ Novena Square and told my friend, “Oh my gosh, first you have Vivocity, and now you have Veelo-city? There’s no originality.” My friend looked at me and said, “It’s velocity lah.” In my defense, [the mall logo] had the ‘velo’ and ‘city’ in different colours, so it looked like it was meant to be read separately!

What’s one word people mispronounce that makes you cringe?
I don’t cringe. Usually I just find [mispronounced words] funny. Sometimes my listeners call in and say they want to “delicate” a song instead of “dedicate”. Some people also pronounce ‘lingerie’ as ‘lingering’. And Benedict Cumberbatch had difficulty pronouncing “penguin”. There’s a hilarious video online of him struggling to say “penguin”!

What is the most memorable on-air pronunciation blooper you have had so far?
Oh! There was one word, “adage”. It was for a Channel NewsAsia programme and somebody pointed out [my mispronunciation] online. I said “ah-da-je”. I don’t know why I felt it needed to be said in an Italian accent (laughs). It was “ad-age”. A word like this, you read it in print and you know what it means, but when you have to say it, you’re like, “Eh?”.

VIDEO: CHRISTOPHER KHONG, ALIYA ZULKIFLI, UBAI, KEVIN CHEN

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