Last Sunday, one of my neighbors called me up.
"I found this recipe I want to try, but I don't have a couple of the ingredients. Do you have any Worcestershire sauce?"
Only she actually said "Wor-ses...Wor-ches...Wor-ses-cher-shy-er sauce."
"Worcestershire sauce?" I flawlessly responded. "Sure. Come on over and get it."
I've been listening to people trip over this word for nearly thirty years - as long as I've lived in the West. In Massachusetts, where I grew up, there is a city called Worcester, named after a place in England. Because we New Englanders grew up knowing how to pronounce this place-name, it's been a lot easier for us. We've always been able to just roll it off our tongues.
And you can, too, after completing this brief tutorial. It's time for everyone to learn how to pronounce the name of this common condiment.
The biggest mistake people make occurs in their division of the word into syllables, a natural technique we use when sounding out words. With this word, you have to think about it a little differently. It seems natural to divide it up like this: Wor-ces-ter-shire. But instead, you need to divide it like this: Worce-ster-shire.
Let's begin with the first syllable: Worce. The first thing you need to do in pronouncing this syllable is to drop the letter r. (Again, we New Englanders have had a leg up. We drop all kinds of r's. We also add them to the ends of words where they don't belong.) Go ahead and try it. It should come out something like this: woos. (oo as in look) Try it again. Woos. There! Very good.
Next syllable. Pretty straight forward: ster. Just like it looks. Actually, in New England, we would drop off the r and say "stah." This won't be necessary.
Now try stringing the two syllables together: woos-ster. You'll notice that when you do, you have two s sounds in a row. Combine them into one. Wooster. It does not rhyme with rooster. Remember, oo as in look. Try it again. Wooster. Very good!
Final syllable: shire. We are not hobbits. We don't live in the Shire. Let's pronounce it like this: sheer. Good!
Now, try it all together: woostersheer. Excellent! Add the sauce and you've got it.
I feel so much better. Now, call me up and ask to borrow some. I've got a whole bottle in my pantry.