Prince of pronunciation

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Many people have the (mis)perception that the French (mis)pronounce all languages with a heavy accent.  It turns out that the gold standard for correct pronunciation of borrowed words is a French gentilhomme /ʒɑ̃.ti.jɔm/.

How to Pronounce the Trickiest English Words: Ask This Frenchman

Millions of Americans, the curious and the insecure, consult Julien Miquel for help with words such as Worcestershire, macabre, and Siobhan

By Joe Pinsker
WSJ, Oct. 30, 2023

Read / listen to this article.  You're in for une gâterie.


The next time you’re googling how to correctly pronounce potable, cache, macabre or gnocchi, or gauging whether the U is silent in gauge, you can be assured of two things. You’re not the only one wary of butchering words. And waiting near the top of your search results will be Julien Miquel.

Miquel, age 43, makes short YouTube videos that sound out English words, much like many other online instructors. But his work in the genre is distinguished by a curious feature: his conspicuously French accent.

Mon Dieu! That’s right—America’s go-to expert for English pronunciation is a Frenchman.

Miquel—pronounced mee-kell, per one of his videos—is a former winemaker who works from his studio outside the historic medieval center of Argelès-sur-Mer (ar-zhuh-less sir mair [VHM:  IJBOL] Miquel recommends for an English speaker), a seaside town in southern France.

He is also now one of the most-watched makers of pronunciation videos in the world, according to YouTube. His videos have gotten 50 million views so far this year in the U.S. Rightly or wrongly, people judge each other by their pronunciation, and Miquel has tapped into a widespread desire to avoid sounding like a fool or a philistine.

The article has video clips of Julien Miquel pronouncing:

his own name



the name of Elon Musk's son X Æ A-12

croissant (both ways)

Miquel "has produced more than 40,000 of the brief, visually spare clips, including some 12,000 this year".  Among the terms he has covered are: 

Cabernet Sauvignon
Pinot Noir
General Tso
Yves Saint Laurent
Louis Vuitton
Hermès (which involves dropping that H and saying the S, for something like air-mess)
Caoimhe (the last three are Irish names, one of Miquel's specialties)
Forgive me if I have sent you down un trou de lapin.
Selected readings
[h.t. Jennifer Levitz]


  1. Chris Barts said,

    November 3, 2023 @ 1:35 pm

    I guarantee that Frenchman would mispronounce the name of Havre, Montana.

  2. Seonachan said,

    November 3, 2023 @ 2:24 pm

    Or Havre Boucher, Nova Scotia

  3. Philip Taylor said,

    November 3, 2023 @ 4:35 pm

    Hmmm … Unconvinced by his "Worcestershire" (the vowel in his final syllable sounds like a schwa, where for me the final syllable rhymes with "ear" or "hear/here", tho' I note that the LPD concurs with his version), with his "Schadenfreude" (the first "d" sounds like a glottal stop followed by a /t/), and, to my great surprise, with his "croissant", where the "r" sounds more like a /w/ to my ear.

  4. David L said,

    November 3, 2023 @ 6:17 pm

    His "Worcestershire" sounds fine to me, except that the first vowel is a bit longer and rounder than mine. The second and third vowels are both schwas, which is how I say it.

  5. poftim said,

    November 4, 2023 @ 9:32 am

    David L,

    British here, and another vote for a schwa in the final syllable of "Worcestershire". (I pronounce all -shire names like that, as far as I know.) And just like yours, my first vowel is a bit punchier than his.

    Philip Taylor,

    I can detect a French /ʁ/ immediately before the /w/ in his "croissant", just as I would expect.

    The article states that Americans often mispronounce "Edinburgh" and then goes on to say that a final /g/ should be avoided, but in my experience Americans (knowing that it isn't like Pittsburgh) opt for "borrow" at the end, which isn't right either.

  6. Adrian Bailey said,

    November 4, 2023 @ 9:59 am

    Another vote for a final shwa in Worcestershire. In fact I find the "sheer" pronunciation in county names to be rather ugly.

  7. Tom said,

    November 5, 2023 @ 7:16 am

    On BBC local radio, in the 30-year anniversary announcement, the jingle mentions Worcestershire

    I think Shah/d'n/froy/de for Americans.

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