There’s a scene in the Paul Verhoeven box office flop Showgirls, in which Elizabeth Berkley’s character claims she bought her Versace outfit from “Versays”. As far as automotive names are concerned, an embarrassing gaffe is easy to make. To attempt to pronounce an automotive name correctly is like trying to tap dance through a minefield. I know many people who would pronounce the “au” in Austin Healey just like the end of the first syllable in “lauded”, but my colleague Gareth Dean, who grew up in the United Kingdom, says the correct way to say Austin is “Osten”. The same goes for Vauxhaul… And I quote: “It’s Voxholl!”. While debating the subject, much to the irritation of our office co-worker, we realized that the same applies to “Audi”… I matriculated in Uitenhage, the home of VWSA, and some of my schoolmates (whose parents worked for Audi’s parent company, in some cases) didn’t pronounce Audi as “Owdi”, but “Ordee” (as if the “R” was silent).
The French names don’t exactly roll off the tongue either. Okay, most people say “Renno” and a few embarrass themselves with “Renult”, but Peugeot is enough to start a bar brawl in some parts of the country… One faction will claim the correct way to announce the latter brand is “Purrzho” and the other insist “Pewjo” is the right way to say Peugeot. And as for Citroën, there are a few incarnations out there… among them “Sitren”, “Sitruhen” and Sitrruhn” (remember to pull a funny face when forming the word and/or roll the “R”)… You may not think it matters that much, but when you are a motoring journalist and expected to ask the top brass of a motoring company pertinent questions about the ‘biz, one wouldn’t want to mess up the name of his or her company!
Even when the manufacturer’s name is hard to mess up, as is the case with Toyota, you may fall into the trap of saying “Yahris”, when many young people in South Africa, arguably influenced by accents conveyed in the American media, are quite comfortable with “Yeahris”.
There’s the Fiat “Pahlio” and the more homely “Pehlio” and the Subaru Impreza, which could be either “Impraiza” or “Impretsa” (depending on whom you ask).
Don’t even try to get your tongues around Lamborghini’s Gallardo and Murcielargo and here’s the ultimate conundrum… courtesy of Hyundai. If you prefer, for the Azera, “Azeerha” instead of “Azehra”, then should the Trajet be "Trah jet" or “Trejay”?