Famous names you mispronounced for the longest time

I’m currently watching the DVDs for Terminator: The Sarah Connor Chronicles, and Lena Headey is on some of the commentary tracks. She introduces herself at the start of each episode she commentates, pronouncing her name as follows:

LEE-na HEE-dee

Bwah?! I’ve been rhyming her name with “head” for years and years, and I’m not the only one. Last week Mr.Skin was on Howard Stern and they were talking about her Walk of Shame scene in Game of Thrones, and all of them (mis)pronounced it like I did.

Any other names out there you mispronounced forever until you heard the person say it themself?

That’s Hedley. [Rimshot]

Tolkien, which I pronounced as Tolk-Yen for decades.

In my defense, I grew up in a small French-speaking town where no one had heard of him (that was in the late 80s, long before the movies and the Internet).

However, I must admit I still haven’ t really got used to the correct way to say it (Tolk-EEn).

Milla Jovovich. It’s “Meela Yo-vo-vitch” apparently. I was being way more literal.

Ryan Phillippe also does not pronounce it in a French way, he includes the trailing “e” as an additional syllable. I refuse to comply.

I’m not certain about Charlize Theron, as I’ve heard both a French lilt to her surname “Theh-RON” and a clumsy straight “Therron”. I prefer the former.

Properly, it’s a straight “tuhron”, “t’ron” or even “tron”, *no-one *in South Africa pronounces that first phoneme like the ones in “this” or “thin”, since “th” in either form isn’t an Afrikaans phoneme at all. The whole name is inherited from French but mangled to Afrikaans tastes

For years I pronounced Dick Vitale’s name with an E on the end, because I knew a guy in high school with that last name who pronounced it that way.

Maybe this doesn’t count against me so much, because lots of people make this mistake, but the old horror star Bela Lugosi. Or, as you sometimes see it written this days, Béla Lugosi.

His first name is pronounced Bayla, not Bella. Just like Mr. Fleck and Mr. Bartok.

I’ll never figure out why Goethe is pronounced Goat-uh.

Not a personal name, but the capital of South Dakota is Pierre. It’s not pronounced at the name by locals, but as one syllable, PEER. I didn’t know that until recently, in my head I always said PEE-AIR.

Is it? English speakers naturally struggle with the palatalized vowel, but I usually hear it as something more like Ger-tuh or Gair-tuh.

Saoirse Ronan, from *Brooklyn *and The Grand Budapest Hotel. I always pronounced her name, “the chick who was in The Lovely Bones,” because I never had a clue how it’s actually pronounced.

Then I listened to her on the Nerdist podcast and apparently it’s pronounced like, “SER-sha.”

Until just a couple of days ago, I was never sure how Michael Learned, the mother on “The Waltons”, pronounced her first name (mainly because I never really cared). I had assumed it was just a fancy way of spelling “Me-Shell” (Michelle). But look up an interview on youtube and it is “Mike-al”. Wiki says that her parents never explained why they gave her a masculine first name.

Joan Baez said a few years ago that virtually everyone mispronounces her last name because “Time” magazine told its readers wrong when they did an article on her in the early 1960s. Apparently it is closer to “bees” but she is used to the “bi-ezz” people use.

Proust. I still don’t know how to pronounce it.

I think it rhymes with “boost”.

It’s supposed to, but I’ve never heard anyone say it (in English) except to rhyme it with joust. Or Faust.

Mia Wasikowska’s name is often mispronounced. The w’s are pronounced like v’s: vasikovska.

Same, and I just corrected myself recently (within the past few weeks) when I watched The Fourth Kind.

At the start of the movie, Milla is standing in the woods looking at the camera and she says: “Hi. My name is MEEla YOvovitch.”

It was the combination of that plus Lena Headey on the commentary track that inspired me to start this thread.

Tadhg is another Irish name few Americans know how to pronounce. It’s pronounced Taɪg - like tiger without the er.

It’s German, and the “oe” sound is a close-mid front rounded vowel. It’s the same sound as represented by the umlauted “ö.” You round your lips as if saying “oooooo,” but you kind of say something like an “ih” or “eh” sound. To me, the closest approximation is the “oo” in “book” of most English dialects. Or pronounce “GER-tuh” without the “r”. For whatever reason, most Americans, at least, pronounce it as “GER-tuh,” with the “r.” With British non-rhombic accents, the r is “pronounced” in the sense that it colors the preceding vowel, but no actual rhotic consonant is said.

As for the “the” part, German does not have the “th” sound of English, and that digraph represents a plain “t” sound. And the terminal “e” is usually pronounced in German, as well

How about Jann Wenner? I still don’t know.