With the recent release of Steve McQueen’s slavery era biopic, 12 Years a Slave, the word on everyone’s lips at the moment is “Chiwetel Ejiofor.” Or should we say the word on the edge of everyone’s lips is Chiwetel Ejiofor, because c’mon, the population at large is absolutely terrified at the thought of having to pronounce that thing out loud (all actors should be called “Brad Pitt”).
Still, unless you happen to be a member of the Ejiofor clan or you’ve actually heard somebody saying the name out loud over and over again, the thought of having to get to grips with all those letters is intimidating. When the actor recently appeared on Jimmy Fallon, even Jimmy, wide-eyed, asked him: “Do people call you Chiwetel?” – as if his name were “sandwich” or “blergon.”
Which got us thinking. There are tons of actors, directors and filmmakers in Hollywood whose names are just as difficult to tackle as Mr. Ejiofor’s, and wouldn’t it be nice if somebody threw together a handy guide telling us how to pronounce them? Look no further, language lovers: we’ve done our research and complied that very guide to make your life all the more easier.
What’s interesting, of course, is that the complicated-looking names aren’t the only ones that are being pronounced wrongly on a day to day basis. In fact, you might be surprised to find that you’ve been saying some seemingly easy-to-pronounce names wrong for years. And that doesn’t just go for the general population: dedicated cinephiles might find they’ve been guilty, too. Oops.
This article was first posted on January 10, 2014