Pronunciation Guide for Vancouver

Traveling has its share of frustrations, one of which is peculiar and unpronounceable words and place names. Vancouver has a few difficult but important words that are easy to pronounce once you know how.

  • Blenheim is pronounced Blen em, with the accent on the first syllable.
  • Broughtonis pronounced brow tin, with an accent on the first syllable.You sort of swallow the second syllable. There must be a name for that but it’s probably known only to linguists.
    Broughton Street is located in Vancouver’s West End. It runs parallel to Burrard and Granville and perpendicular to Robson Street.
    Note: (From Ian, a Vancouverite living in Toronto)
    The term for that ‘-en’ sound following a ‘t’ is “nasal plosion,” heard also in words like “flatten” or “blatant” for most speakers with a BC accent. (Note that this is only if you don’t really pronounce the ‘t’ as a ‘t,’ like many eastern Canadians do. But we generally don’t).
  • Burrard: The accent is on the second syllable. I wouldn’t have thought of this one but a site visitor, Elaine Shipton, pointed out that, from a British point of view, Canadians pronounce words in funny ways.Her rule of thumb is that wherever you’d put the stress in British English, put it somewhere else in Canada. In a three syllable word you’ve got a 50% chance of being right.
  • Nanaimo is pronounced Na ni mo. The accent is on the second syllable.
    Located on Vancouver Island, Nanaimo is best known, by visitors at least, for its ferry terminal that connects Vancouver Island with West Vancouver’s Horseshoe Bay on the mainland. Nanaimo is about an hour and a half drive north of Victoria, the capital of British Columbia.
  • Robson is pronounced rob son, not robe son.
    Robson Street is Vancouver’s most famous shopping street, sometimes called, by wishful thinkers, Rodeo Drive North.
  • Tsawwassen is pronounced Ta wa sen. The accent is on the second syllable.
    Located due south of Vancouver, Tsawwassen is best known as a ferry terminal for travel between the mainland and Vancouver Island. If you’re driving from Washington state and cross the border at the Peace Arch, you will come to the turn off for Tsawwassen before you reach Vancouver.
  • Another Note from Ian: Also have to add in that I, and many people, do pronounce the first ‘S’ in Tsawwassen… as far as I know, the “Tawwassen” pronunciation comes more from people unable to say the original word than a ‘correct’ pronunciation.