Apparently I say “dance” in a posh way. Apparently I say “school” in a funny way. (No I don’t – you do).
But the word that gets me mocked the most is “Lego”. See, I’ve always said “Laygo”. It was only when I moved to Sydney that I realised that everyone else said “Leggo”. I tried to change my pronunciation, but I kept forgetting, and everyone kept telling me how wrong I was.
For a while, I wondered if “Laygo” was just a weird pronunciation my family had. But on a recent trip to Adelaide, my kids wanted to go to the local Lego shop. And you know what it’s called? Laygo.
Not Leggo, but Laygo.
That got me wondering. What if South Australians were pronouncing the word the correct Danish way – Lego having been created in Denmark – and everyone else was using some incorrect anglicised pronunciation? What if South Australia was right and the rest of the English-speaking world was wrong?
It was a thrilling possibility.
There’s a good chance you’re saying some of these words wrong too. Sorry. Post continues after video.
I contacted the owner of Laygo, Steve Campbell. He told me that he’s from the UK himself, and has always pronounced it “Leggo”.
“When I opened up my first store in Adelaide, my business name was a different name,” he explained.
“But when everyone came through they kept calling the product ‘Laygo’ and I couldn’t get my head around it. So in the end I thought, if you can’t beat them, join them.”
Campbell said he’d tried to find out himself why South Australians said “Laygo”, but believed there was “no definitive answer”.
“There is a belief that it’s not the Danish pronunciation, it’s a Cornish pronunciation,” he added.
South Australia is well known for its Cornish heritage – we love a good pasty – and experts have previously suggested that the state’s unique mix of migrants – lots of Scottish, German, Cornish, not so many Irish – is responsible for its different accent.
But I needed to know for sure, so I contacted the Danish School Down Under.
Speaking of toys, can young kids take over smart homes to order toys and delivery pizza? We discussed on This Glorious Mess. Post continues after audio.
School president Julie Maegaard told me that in Danish, “Lego” is said “short and sharp”.
“If you are from Copenhagen and the island Zealand, which Copenhagen is on, you say it like me,” she said. “If people are from Jutland, which is the part of Denmark which is connected physically with Germany, they drag out the ‘e’ a bit.”
Maegaard sent me a voice file of her saying the word, so I could listen to it myself. I listened, then listened again. I think it’s best written as “Leh-go”. Not quite “Leggo”, but sadly, not “Laygo”.
Maegaard kindly agreed with me that it was “somewhere in the middle” of the two pronunciations. (OK, it’s closer to “Leggo”. Darn.)
But, as Maegaard added, the American way of saying Lego – “Legos” – is “all wrong”. Surely that’s one thing we can agree on.
“Legos” is an abomination.
Do you say “Lego” or “Laygo”? What other words do you say differently to your interstate friends?