No, the title of the post is not a typo. Llanfairpwllgwyngyllgogerychwyrndrobwllllantysiliogogogoch is the name of a village in northwest Wales. At 58 letters, it is the longest officially recognized place name in the United Kingdom and one of the longest in the world.
I have seen slightly different translations of the Welsh name into English, but the most common is “Saint Mary’s Church in the hollow of the white hazel near a rapid whirlpool and the Church of St. Tysilio of the red cave.” And Shakespeare asked, “What’s in a name?”
It certainly is a mouthful, but for Liam Dutton, a weatherman with Channel 4 in the UK, it’s no trouble at all.
Well done, Liam. His cool rendition of Llanfair … of the name … has turned him into an internet celebrity. But amidst all the fuss, there is an important lesson to be learned.
When speaking, especially if you have the responsibility to introduce people, make sure that you know the proper pronunciation of their names. That goes for place names, company names, any proper name.
Check with people who know. On the day of the event, arrive early and confirm any difficult pronunciations with the people whom you will be introducing. If a name is particularly challenging, print it out phonetically on your notes. You owe it to those whom you are introducing to get it right.
I recently moderated a panel discussion following the Continental European premiere of the documentary Out to Win. You can see the names of the three people on the panel by scrolling to the bottom of the page at this link. Not straightforward names for a native English speaker. I made sure to check with the organizers and also with each panel member before the event.
So do your homework. It’s the professional and courteous thing to do. The people whom you introduce and the audience will appreciate it.
As for Llanfairpwllgwyngyllgogerychwyrndrobwllllantysiliogogogoch, at 58 letters, it is still dwarfed by the record holder, this 85-letter monster from New Zealand: Taumatawhakatangihangakoauauotamateaturipukakapikimaunga-horonukupokaiwhenuakitanatahu. In Maori, it means “The summit where Tamatea, the man with the big knees, the climber of mountains, the land-swallower who travelled about, played his nose flute to his loved one.”