Perhaps a Very Naive Question

Seeing as this is the anniversary of the Hiroshima bombings, I thought it might be time to put to rest something that’s been bugging me for a while - how do you pronounce Hiroshima? My knowledge of the Japanes language tells me that it should be pronounced “Hee-row-shee-mah” because the Japanese character い makes and “ee” sound. But most of the time I hear people pronounce it “Hee-row-CHE-mah.” Which of these pronnounciations is correct?

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Also, WK’s pronunciation

Both sound right to me.


Usually the “wrongness” of how foreigners say it is in the intonation more than the pronunciation. To my ear anyway.


Same here. Most people speaking English usually stress the ‘ro’, I think.

Curious what you - or others who’ve lived in Japan for a while - do when saying Japanese place names in English. Hiroshima being the one that stands out the most.

I never want to be like the pricks who say Barthelona, but it’s not quite the same in Japanese since the differences are more subtle and the “official” English pronunciation is not so definitive.

Why does saying Barcelona like that make you a prick? I took like 9 years of Spanish classes during school, many of my teachers were Spanish or Spain-educated, and I studied abroad in Spain, so my accent tends to be the Spanish one, so “Barthelona” is probably how I’d pronounce it. Though sometimes I try to switch my accent depending on who I’m talking to.

Edit: To be clear, I don’t mean I’d say “Barthelona” to English speakers, I’d use it when speaking Spanish, except to certain Latin-American speakers (I have a couple Mexican friends, for example, who find the Spanish accent rather odd, so I try to switch to the Latin American way when I speak with them).

I would say not only pronouncing Barcelona that way but really any foreign word in English. That is to say, it just seems pretentious and has the possibility of people not understanding what you mean. I would never say Tokyo as “Toukyou” in English. It’s the correct pronunciation, but it just kind of makes you look like a pretentious ass. Obviously I mean this for native English speakers, if you are actually Japanese its acceptable to pronounce it that way. But I think eventually you would want to learn to pronounce it the “wrong” way to sound more natural.

Edit: bonus - my best friend “corrected” me at dinner recently when I said “bon appetit” the French way, not the english “bone appeteet”. I didnt even think twice about that one because I’m married to a franccophone and we say it to each other all the time. I was mildly irritated but then again I can’t really fault her.

Maybe I should have been more clear. I wouldn’t say “Barthelona” to a non-Spanish speaker or to certain Latin-American Spanish Speakers. I would use that while speaking Spanish. If I am speaking English, then yes, I’ll say “Barcelona.”

Ah that totally makes sense then. I think the other person meant when you say Barthelona while speaking English :slight_smile: But i think pronouncing place names properly in the language you speak is really important. It’s so easy to get lazy but it sounds so much more fluent to say them properly.

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