Name of Highland village hailed as hardest to pronounce

The Ballachulish Bridge which connects North Ballachulish to South Ballachulish. PIC: Flickr/Markus Trienke.
The Ballachulish Bridge which connects North Ballachulish to South Ballachulish. PIC: Flickr/Markus Trienke.
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Words come easy to describe this lovely part of the country - but pronouncing the name of this Highland village comes a little harder to many.

Ballachulish in the Highlands has been named as the second most difficult place name in the United Kingdom to pronounce - and the most difficult in Scotland to roll off the tongue.

Ballachulish overlooks Loch Leven (pictured). PIC: Creative Commons/Markus Trienke.

Ballachulish overlooks Loch Leven (pictured). PIC: Creative Commons/Markus Trienke.

The Highland village came second to Frome in Somerset in a list of the towns and villages that were most likely to be mispronounced, according to a team of linguists.

Ballachulish - pronounced Ba-la-hoolish - comes from the Gaelic Baile a’ chaolais which means “settlement on the strait”.

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The strait in question is Caolas Mag Phadraig or Peter or Patrick’s narrows, at the mouth of Loch Leven, which the village overlooks.

The village is split in three – North Ballachulish, South Ballachulish and Ballachulish Village and the divide was naturally around the loch at its narrowest point where a passenger ferry used to carry those wishing passage to the north across the loch.

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Clare Kennedy, manager of Ballachulish Visitor Centre and Tourist Information, said the village deserved its place on the list.

"I have worked here for seven years and during the busy season it is a daily question: how do you pronounce Ballachulish?

"People just don't know the Gaelic sound. We really get everything when it comes to saying it."

The list has been compiled by the creators of language app Babbel.

Ted Mentele, one of the app's editors, said: "British English is famous for some of the most confusing pronunciations on earth.

"The main reason that these are difficult to pronounce is that they're not spelled phonetically - there are a lot of silent letters and letters that are pronounced differently depending on where they are in the word.

"Many people in the UK, particularly locals to these areas, have grown up hearing these names and naturally don't find them so hard to get their tongues around.

"Others attempt to pronounce them as they're spelled, and without knowing the origins of the word, can get it far from correct."