AS someone who has heard his relatively simple six-letter last name pronounced about 47 different ways, I always try to make sure I get other people’s names right. But there are a bunch of celebrities whose names I’ve mangled over the years (I thought it was Charlize “thur-RONE,” for example.)
It’s still somewhat common for actors and singers to take easier-to-pronounce (and often less-Jewy) stage names. (Would Jon Stewart be as popular if he were still Jonathan Leibowitz? Probably, actually — he makes it no secret he’s Jewish, and a lot of people think his last name is Daily anyway. But you get my point.)
So I give these folks below a lot of credit for sticking with these names (most of which I’ve mispronounced — or just completely avoided saying out loud):
Chiwetel Ejiofor: Great actor who played a terrific bad guy in “Serenity.” HEAR his name pronounced here
Ryan Phillippe: I thought it was “fill-EEP.” Doesn’t that sound classier anyway?
Adewale Akinnuoye-Agbaje: “Mr. Eko” on “Lost.” The hyphen is actually a rest stop.
Saoirse Ronan: Some say it’s “SEER-shuh,” others say it’s “SER-shuh.” Pick one and stick with it, or I’ll just keep calling you “sow-eerse.”
Don Cheadle: Am I the only one who wants to say “CHEE-ad-ull?”
Shia LeBeouf: I wouldn’t have even bothered learning this one, but it looks like this guy isn’t going away any time soon.
John Mayer: As in McCheese, not Oscar. (Geez, am I hungry or what?)
Sufjan Stevens: That’s “SOOF-yahn” to you.
→Sade: I remember everyone pronouncing her name “shar-day” back in the shar-day. Apparently, even her record company printed “pronounced shar-day” after her name on the labels of her first releases in the ’80s. But it’s “sha-day,” as in “Sha” Na Na. Hey — now there’s a great idea for a collaboration!
(BONUS: As long as I’m embarrassing myself, I used to think grunge band Mudhoney‘s name was pronounced “mud-hoe-knee.” Sad, huh?)