Kelly Clarkson correctly pronouncing a guest’s name on her show seems simple but it speaks volumes
What’s in a name?
A lot, actually. We know that names reflect certain aspects of one’s identity. We know that repeated mispronunciation of a person’s name potentially undermines that identity. We know that sometimes this is unintentional, and other times, more insidious intentions of “othering” are at play. Especially when it comes to those with non-English names.
We also know that, on the flip side, making the effort to properly pronounce a person’s name is one of the simplest forms of kindness and respect that someone can offer. And it really pays dividends.
Just take a page from Kelly Clarkson’s book.
Clarkson recently had K-pop girl group TWICE on her show to perform their latest English single, “Moonlight Sunrise.”
With the help of an onstage translator, Clarkson bonded with the group about starting their careers from reality TV—Clarkson from “American Idol,” and TWICE from South Korean TV show “Sixteen”.
During the interview, Clarkson made sure to personally address all nine members in the group—Nayeon, Jeongyeon, Momo, Sana, Jihyo, Mina, Dahyun, Chaeyoung and Tzuyu—by their name.
Then, at one point, Clarkson checked with the translator to see if she was pronouncing Tzuyu’s name correctly.
Clarkson pronounced it the way many English-speaking fans did—”Tzoo-Yoo.” The translator explained that while that version is “good,” the Korean version is actually pronounced “Jjeu-Wee.” Almost resembling the word “chewy.”
The stark contrast between pronunciations at first threw the host a little. And after doing a lighthearted doubletake (“Wait, what?!”) Clarkson quickly decided to go straight to the source.
“How do you want me to say it?” she asked Tzuyu.
Tzuyu responded, “Jjeu-Wee.”
In typical Kelly Clarkson fashion, she quipped, “How you say it is adorable! OK, so, Jjeu-Wee—I think I said it right, I’m trying,” before moving on to talk more about their song.
It’s such a short exchange, but it made a huge impact. Those who watched online complemented Clarkson on her efforts to make her guests feel welcomed.
“I love that Kelly is trying so hard to pronounce her name and making them feel comfortable. And that was the closest she could get to correctly pronouncing Tzuyu in one day! I could barely pronounce it perfectly in a month so, congrats Kelly!” one person wrote.
Another added, “The way Kelly pronounced Tzuyu to cheewy and saying it’s adorable you can feel she knows how to respect and entertain her guest even though there is a language barrier. We love you Kelly and Twice.”
Big thanks to Kelly for showing just how easy it is to offer this truly simple gesture. And within the span of 30 seconds, no less.
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