As I’ve mentioned before, I have been blessed with a fairly easy name. No one ever mispronounces “Tyler” as “TeeLer” or “TileER,” though I’ve heard Taylor Benditti enough to believe it’s actually my name and my parents forgot to tell me. Though this may not be a huge problem for me, celebrities with difficult names are subjected to embarrassing pronunciation problems all the time (I know what you’re thinking but don’t bring up John Travolta’s Oscar dilemma). While I don’t blame myself for butchering certain celebrity names (Lupita Nyong’o, I’m really trying), there are other, “easy” names that I’ve been apparently mispronouncing for years. For example:
I pride myself on being the master of popular culture, so the discovery of this pronunciation made me want to hide my face in shame. Despite how it may look, Rihanna is actually meant to rhyme with “banana.” (Her parents tried for the longest time to find a name that rhymes with “orange” but to no avail.)
Correct: Rachel VICE
Incorrect: Rachel WICE
Any word that pairs “s” and “z” next to each other screams “I have German origins and you’re about to say me very very wrong.” Weisz is one such word, as most readers would pronounce the “w” in The Mummy star’s last name when, in reality, “Weisz” kicks off with a “v” sound. If it helps you to imagine Dracula pronouncing the actress’s name (most likely as “Vachel Vice”) then feel free to do that. I’m sure she wouldn’t mind.
Correct: ZOH-ee Day-shuh-NELL
Incorrect: ZOO-ee DESH-ah-nel
Had someone asked me in high school who my favorite actress was, I would have proudly told them “Zoo-ee Desh-anel.” It wasn’t until college that my friend pointed out my error, after which point I began pretending that “Zoo-ee” had actually just been a fun nickname I had made up and that I had known the proper pronunciation all along. As if her first name wasn’t deceiving enough, “Deschanel” is supposedly pronounced “Day-shuh-NELL” with a greater emphasis on the last syllable.
Correct: Amanda SIGH-freed
Incorrect: Amanda SEE-freed
I wish I could tell you how “Sey” turns into “Sigh” here but I’m no language expert. If I had to guess, I’d say it had something to do with how adorable she and Justin Long are as a couple. You just see them and want to sigh. (Too much of a stretch?)
Correct: Char-LEASE THROWN
Incorrect: Char-LIES THER-on
One would think, at first glance, that “Charlize” would be the problematic term in this name but the real issue is Theron. What looks like a two-syllable word is actually just one, pronounced more like “thrown” or “throne” than “there-on.”
Those are the names that I came up with, though I’m sure there are many more. In fact, what are some other celebrities with unexpectedly hard-to-pronounce names? What did I miss?