Metro

Beh-toh? Comma-lah? Here’s how to pronounce the names of Democratic presidential hopefuls

Someone may have told you that Bay-doh launched his presidential campaign. Or perhaps a friend informed you that Beat-oh is gearing up for the election.
Charlie Neibergall/Associated Press
Someone may have told you that Bay-doh launched his presidential campaign. Or perhaps a friend informed you that Beat-oh is gearing up for the election.

Have you heard?

Beto O’Rourke, the former Texas congressman, officially tossed his hat into the 2020 presidential race Thursday.

If you have heard the news, there’s a good chance you’ve heard it a few different ways.

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Someone may have told you that Bay-doh launched his presidential campaign. Or perhaps a friend informed you that Beat-oh is gearing up for the election.

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The name, to some, can be hard to figure out. It was even a talking point during O’Rourke’s failed US Senate campaign against Senator Ted Cruz last year. (For the record, it’s BEH-toh.)

But with a growing number of Democratic hopefuls announcing that they’re running for president, O’Rourke’s first name is no longer the only one tripping up talking heads and voters.

Many people are not only wondering where the emerging candidates stand on the issues — they’re also figuring out how to pronounce their names properly.

Among the contenders seeking to clinch the Democratic nomination are Kamala Harris, senator from California; Representative Tulsi Gabbard of Hawaii; New York Senator Kirsten Gillibrand; Minnesota Senator Amy Klobuchar; Julian Castro, former secretary of Housing and Urban Development; and Indiana Mayor Pete Buttigieg.

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Did you get all of those right? Don’t worry, you’re not alone.

Seemingly trying to get ahead of any potential confusion moving forward, CNN’s Jake Tapper on Thursday tweeted out a helpful pronunciation guide to his followers.

In response to Tapper’s tweet, Steve Koczela, president of MassInc Polling Group, a research company that conducts telephone surveys about candidates, said pollsters spend a significant amount of time scouring the Internet for videos of candidates pronouncing their own names.

They do this, he said, so MassINC can “make good pronunciation guides for telephone interviewers” reaching out to potential voters.

“Exactly how to make it the most easy to understand and read out loud, that’s what you’re looking for when making a pronunciation guide,” Koczela told the Globe. “That’s why it’s best to find the candidate saying their own name if you can.”

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While MassINC hasn’t done any Democratic polling yet for this cycle, Koczela said the company will be having discussions about a pronunciation guide relatively soon.

Because the name confusion is nothing new for many of the candidates hoping to unseat President Donald Trump (they’ve dealt with it while running for lower office), here’s a quick look at how the pronunciations have been explained over the years.

Mayor Pete Buttigieg

Buttigieg penned an essay on Medium in 2016 that addressed the subject head on.

“Most people have trouble pronouncing my name, so they just call me ‘Mayor Pete,’ ” he wrote. “My surname, Buttigieg (Boot-edge-edge), is very common in my father’s country of origin, the tiny island of Malta, and nowhere else.”

To drive the point home, in December, Buttigieg’s husband, Chasten Buttigieg, tweeted a helpful guide to get it right.

Still, Buttigieg was asked again about his name during an interview with reporters a month later. He seemed happy to clarify.

Senator Kamala Harris

For her part, Harris addressed any uncertainty about how to pronounce her name back in 2016. She did it by tweeting a campaign video of kids saying it out loud.

It’s not “Cam-el-Uh,” or “Kuh-Mahl-Uh,” or even “Kar-mela,” the kids say in the video.

It’s “Comma-luh.”

Senator Kirsten Gillibrand

When Gillibrand was appointed New York senator in 2009, one of her first tasks in office, according to The New York Times, was to teach people how to say her name right.

“It’s a sibilant G,” an aide told the newspaper at the time. “Jill-uh-brand.”

No gill, as in the things that help fish breathe.

As for her first name? People seem to struggle with that, too. It’s Keer-sten, according to the report.

Senator Amy Klobuchar

In a campaign video on her website, Klobuchar introduces herself at the very start, making clear that it’s pronounced “Klo-bush-ar.”

According to TwinCities.com, the name Klobuchar is Slovenian, and it’s pronounced with a bit of local flair.

“That ‘ch’ is pronounced like an ‘sh,’” the website reports. “And in Minnesotan, the ‘bush’ is really quick.”

Say it again: Klo-bush-ar.

Representative Tulsi Gabbard

Is it Tull-see Gah-bard? Or Tool-see Guh-bard?

According to introductions at events and during interviews on national television — including an appearance on “The Late Show with Stephen Colbert” this month — it’s fair to surmise that her name is pronounced “Toll-see GAB-urd.”

Julian Castro

Like many other news outlets that have doggedly covered their local politicians, the San Antonio Express-News is well ahead of the pack when it comes to clarifying how to pronounce former secretary of Housing and Urban Development Julian Castro’s name.

In 2012, when Castro was mayor of San Antonio and a keynote speaker at the Democratic National Convention, the newspaper wrote about how to say Castro’s first name, after hearing an XM radio DJ apparently botch the pronunciation.

The reporter put together an “easy, cheesy pronunciation guide for CNN and other Yankee-based journalists.”

“Think of a baby owl who goes ‘Whoooooooooooooo,’ ” when trying to say Julian, he wrote.

WHO-lee-an Castro — there is no hard “J,” like the one in Julian Edelman.

Steve Annear can be reached at steve.annear@globe.com. Follow him on Twitter @steveannear.