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'KAH-mah-lah Harris': A Handy Guide to Correctly Pronouncing the Most Mispronounced 2020 Names

File image of Kamala Harris / Al Drago/The New York Times.

File image of Kamala Harris / Al Drago/The New York Times.

Anthony Fauci, who has been at the fore because of his post as the US’ infectious disease expert, Kamala Harris, the recently elected vice president candidate in the United States, and Renaissance painter Leonardo da Vinci emerged at the top three spots of most mispronounced names of 2020.

Pronunciation in the English language is difficult as many words are not pronounced according to their spellings and many syllables have differing pronunciation. Also, words from foreign languages or foreign origins can affect how any word is pronounced.

While correcting every word in the language is not feasible, we should at least get the names of prominent personalities right. An American firm that adds subtitles to court proceedings and real-time events on TV, the US Captioning Company has published a list of the most mispronounced words recently.

This list recognized the names that have proved to be the most cumbersome for newsreaders and people on the television to pronounce.

Anthony Fauci, who has been at the fore because of his post as the US’ infectious disease expert, Kamala Harris, the recently elected vice president candidate in the United States, and Renaissance painter Leonardo da Vinci have emerged at the top three spots.

Babbel, a language-learning app, commissioned the closed captioning firm to conduct the survey to come to the final results. So without further ado, here is the correct way to pronounce the top 5 mispronounced names, places, and events:

Kamala Harris

Last month the California senator Kamala Harris was elected to be the first woman, person of colour and first Asian-American to become the vice president of the United States. However, many people on TV have struggled with her name. As per the US Captioning Company, Kamala is pronounced as ‘KAH-mah-lah’.

Anthony Fauci

Being the director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases in the US, Dr Fauci was in front of the public during the pandemic. He also became a part of Donald Trump's COVID-19 task force earlier.

The correct way to pronounce his name is ‘AN-thon-nee FOW-chee’.

Leonardo da Vinci

The great Italian painter continued to trouble people in 2020 with the way his name should be pronounced and the correct way is ‘lee-oh-NAR-doe dah-VIN-chee’.

Some of the other names included on the list were Giannis Antetokounmpo (YON-nis AHN-de-doh-KOON-boh), a Greek basketball player who was named the NBA’s ‘Most Valuable Player’ this year; Mahamayavi Bhagavan Antle (mu-HAH-muh-yaw-vee bag-AH-wahn ANT-uhl), who shot to fame via the Netflix documentary series Tiger King; Isaias (ees-ah-EE-ahs), the powerful hurricane; and national park Yosemite as it was famously mispronounced by President Trump back in August.

BTS

This South Korean pop band has expanded its reach this year. But BTS is the abbreviation of their group name, which is Bangtan Sonyeondan. This literally means "a group of bulletproof boys" or "bulletproof boy scouts" and must be pronounced as ‘PUNG-tahn SOH-nyun-dahn’.

Nevada

This year the US presidential elections took several days to reach a final result. Nevada was one of the states drawing the attention and people mispronounced its name (nev-ADD-ah).

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