The name Adele has been listed as 2022’s most mispronounced word on television, despite containing just five letters and two syllables.
The annual list is compiled by language software platform Babbel, who this year collaborated with TV captioning organisations to sort through the words that were consistently mispronounced in 2022. The words span the names of celebrity figures to capital cities, but it was Adele who caused the biggest tongue-ties for broadcasters, particularly in the United States.
Earlier this year, Adele revealed that US fans have long mispronounced her name. While the singer said she’s not particularly fussed when people recite the more phonetic-sounding ‘Uh-dell’, she prefers when fans say her name with an East London accent, which would sound more like ‘Uh-dale’. This preference informed Babbel’s list, which more broadly covers the fellow famous figures and world events that gripped the world’s vocabulary in 2022.
For example, The Ukrainian city of Zaporizhzhia also made Babbel’s list, following its consistent mispronunciation by newscasters after Russia’s invasion of Ukraine. Elsewhere, broadcasters copped criticism for their pronunciation of the city of Edinburgh (often using a hard ‘G’), particularly during coverage around Queen Elizabeth’s death in October.
Meanwhile, actor Domhall Gleeson and tennis star Novak Djokovic joined the list’s starry entrants, and are perhaps the only two celebrities that this writer also struggles with (silent letters are the silent killer). The list is rounded out by Ukraine president Volodymyr Zelenskyy and the alcoholic beverage Negroni Sbagliato, the latter of which went viral after it rolled effortlessly off the tongue of House of Dragon star Emma D’Arcy on TikTok.
@hbomax I’ll take one of each. #houseofthedragon ♬ a negroni sbagliato w prosecco l hbo max – hbomax
Speaking of the words and their reflection on the 2022 discourse, Babbel language teacher Esteban Touma (a name that could certainly warrant an entry), said the list “really shows the ways we interact with other languages and really gives a good grasp of what’s going on in the world and how we connect with people abroad.” Perhaps the most famous Adele mispronunciation came courtesy of John Travolta in 2014, who somehow recited her name when introducing an award for the mouthful of the name that is Idina Menzel.
There’s perhaps no better way to summarise Babbel’s list than by writing them in a tongue-twister sentence. Repeat after me: ‘Adele shared a Negroni Sbagliato with Volodymyr Zelenskyy and Domhall Gleeson in Zaporizhzhia before the trio was joined by Novak Djokovic in Edinburgh’. Try saying that three times.