From Mille-Feuille to Nduja, This Language-Learning App Helps You Pronounce Tricky Menu Items

Learn how to say it the French way | © Gili Benita/Unsplash
Learn how to say it the French way | © Gili Benita/Unsplash
Photo of Claire Lancaster
Tech & Entrepreneurship Editor25 September 2017

If you’ve ever been enticed by a delicious-sounding dish in a restaurant, but avoided it because you’ve struggled with its foreign pronunciation, you’re not alone.

Berlin-based language-learning app Babbel recently teamed up with the New York City Hospitality Alliance to reveal how diners frequently avoid hard-to-pronounce menu items, and has created a service to help avoid potential embarrassment.

The New York City Hospitality Alliance has revealed that nearly half (41%) of their members believe they have seen diners avoid ordering certain items on a menu due to fear of mispronouncing them.

They claimed food and drink from France was most likely to be avoided by people eating out (44%), with ‘cassoulet’, ‘mille-feuille’, and French wines such as ‘Beaujolais’ commonly identified by the respondents as particularly daunting. Italian dishes were the second most frequently avoided type of cuisine (22%).

Inspired by the findings, language app Babbel is offering a free (and anonymised) service that allows members of the public to send photographs of hard-to-pronounce menu items to in exchange for corresponding pronunciation audio files provided by one of the in-house team at Babbel. When viable, this will be within minutes of receipt.

“Not knowing a language can be an impediment to fully experiencing a trip abroad, but it can also even prevent you from getting the most out of a meal [at home]. That is where Babbel comes in; we are helping millions of people worldwide learn to speak a new language with confidence – and eat well,” said Julie Hansen, U.S. CEO of Babbel.

Listen to example Babbel audio files of hard-to-pronounce items in French, Venezuelan and German restaurants here.

With your pronunciation on point, check out our round up of the most amazing street food in Paris.

Cookies Policy

We and our partners use cookies to better understand your needs, improve performance and provide you with personalised content and advertisements. To allow us to provide a better and more tailored experience please click "OK"