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Fauci, Kamala Among Famous Names on Mispronounced Words List

    2020-12-10

    Anthony Fauci, Kamala Harris and Leonardo da Vinci are among this year’s list of most mispronounced words, as recorded by the U.S. Captioning Company. The company adds captions and subtitles to live events on television and in courtrooms.

    A caption is a sentence or group of words written on or next to a picture to explain what is being shown. Similarly, subtitles are words that appear on the screen during a movie, video or television show that are translations of what people are saying.

    The U.S. Captioning Company list identifies the words that proved most tricky for newsreaders and people on television to pronounce this year.

    The caption company said it surveyed its members to create the list.

    Now in its fifth year, the list was commissioned by Babbel, a language-learning application company.

    Todd Ehresmann is a language expert at Babbel. He said the list shows a year ruled by presidential politics and the coronavirus pandemic.

    “All of these have added some new phrases to our national vocabulary, which may take some practice,” he said.

    Here is how Ehresmann broke down the pronunciations for this year’s most commonly misspoken words:

    In this file photo, Director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases Anthony Fauci speaks during an unscheduled briefing after a Coronavirus Task Force meeting at the White House on April 5, 2020, in Washington.
    In this file photo, Director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases Anthony Fauci speaks during an unscheduled briefing after a Coronavirus Task Force meeting at the White House on April 5, 2020, in Washington.

    Anthony Fauci (AN-thon-nee FOW-chee): Director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases.

    Bangtan Sonyeondan (PUNG-tahn SOH-nyun-dahn): The full name of South Korean K-Pop band BTS. The name in English means “a group of bulletproof boys” or “bulletproof boy scouts.”

    Giannis Antetokounmpo (YON-nis AHN-de-doh-KOON-boh): A Greek professional basketball player who plays for the National Basketball Association’s Milwaukee Bucks. He was named the NBA’s Most Valuable Player this year.

    Isaias (ees-ah-EE-ahs): The name given to a powerful hurricane that caused major damage to the U.S. East Coast and the Caribbean this summer.

    Kamala Harris: The Vice President-Elect. The Associated Press has reported Harris’ first name is pronounced “KAH-mah-lah” — or, as she explains in her biography, “‘comma-la,’ like the punctuation mark.”

    Leonardo da Vinci (lee-oh-NAR-doe dah-VIN-chee): The Italian painter, architect, and engineer who created the ‘Mona Lisa.’ A mispronunciation of his name was the subject of a viral meme on social media this year.

    Mahamayavi Bhagavan Antle (mu-HAH-muh-yaw-vee bag-AH-wahn ANT-uhl): The full name of wildlife park operator ‘Doc’ Antle, who became famous because of the hugely popular Netflix series ‘Tiger King.’

    Nevada (nev-ADD-ah): The home state of Las Vegas that played a central role in the U.S. presidential election.

    Yosemite (yoh-SEM-it-ee): The famous national park in California’s Sierra Nevada mountains. The park name was notably mispronounced by President Donald Trump in August.

    I’m Jonathan Evans.

    Jonathan Evans adapted this story for Learning English based on a report from the Associated Press. Ashley Thompson was the editor.

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    Words in This Story

    biography – n. the story of a real person's life written by someone other than that person

    commissioned – adj. ordered to be made in exchange for payment

    meme – n. an amusing or interesting picture, video, etc., that is spread widely through the Internet

    pandemic – n. an occurrence in which a disease spreads very quickly and affects a large number of people over a wide area or throughout the world

    surveyed – v. asked many people a question or a series of questions in order to gather information about what most people do or think about something