What’s the Right Way to Pronouce Lychee?

Have you been pronouncing “lychee” wrong your whole life?

Commonly pronounced “lie-chee” or “lee-chee” or even “lit-chee,” it would seem that there are many different interpretations of how to pronounce this Chinese fruit.

Before we dive into it, let’s first take a look at the history of the lychee.

Image via Wikimedia Commons / B.navez (CC BY-SA 3.0)

This fruit is native to the Guangdong and Fujian provinces in China. The earliest record cultivation of lychee dates back to the 1059 AD.

Lychee, with a scientific name of Litchi chinensis, has three subspecies that can be found in other Asian countries. First there’s the chinensi subspecies that grows wild in southern China, Northern Vietnam, and Cambodia.

Then there’s the philippinensis subspecies that is common in the wild in the Philippines. It is rarely cultivated, and it has a long oval fruit with spiky protuberances that can go up to 3 millimeters (0.12 inches). Lastly, the javensis subspecies is cultivated in Malaysia and Indonesia.

Image via Flickr / U.S. Department of Agriculture (CC BY 2.0)

We looked at a few different pronunciation videos. “Lie-chee,” is a popular option.

 

But there are also those who pronounce it as “lit-chi.”

 

Actually both pronunciations are technically correct. This is, of course, is completely influenced on where you are in the world and what language you speak.

For instance, people in the United States commonly pronounce the fruit as “lit-chi” as opposed to those in the United Kingdom who call it “lie-chee,” according to The Cambridge Dictionary.

It should also be taken into account that the fruit has two different pronunciations depending on Chinese dialect, Mandarin and Cantonese.

 

 

There’s no right or wrong answer, there are multiple ways to pronounce lychee.

 

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