How many Canary Islands do you know? Most people have heard of Gran Canaria, Tenerife, Fuerteventura and Lanzarote, but there are several more main islands too – La Palma, La Gomera and El Hierro. There is a dubious eighth one called St Brendan’s Isle, which Christopher Columbus apparently found but… it seems to have vanished!For every Canarian place name there are about 5 ways of pronouncing it! Take “Gran Canaria” itself – easy enough perhaps? But a lot of people (usually the English!) like to Anglicize everything so… “Grand Canary” has been born.
There is a place in the South of the island called Arguineguín (correctly pronounced “Arginnagin” with the emphasis on the last syllable). You can imagine what a tongue twister this one is!! The ferries from Puerto Escala run both to Arguineguín and Mogán and people even get that one wrong! It is Mogán (with the emphasis on the last syllable) – not Morgan, not Mogarn and certainly not Moggern. I work on a fishing desk next to the ferry desk so I frequently hear all this! The ferries stop running at 5pm so I become a kind of “general information kiosk” until I finish work.
Me: “Hello, do you want to go fishing?”
Me: “What do you want?”
Tourist: “Where is ze ferry to Orgweeeenagweeeen?”
Playa del Inglés is one of the biggest tourist resorts on the island. Inglés (which means English) is pronounced “ing-lace” but even the tour operators rhyme it with Dingles! I know a lot of the place names are guesswork because many visitors do not speak much more Spanish than “hola”, “gracias” and “una cerveza, por favor” but it gives us natives a good laugh hearing some of them!!!