The 2020 Democratic presidential primary field is growing quickly. With each new candidate comes another name that Americans will have to learn. Some are straightforward: Cory Booker, Elizabeth Warren, John Delaney, Marianne Williamson, Andrew Yang. But for those that might trip you up, here’s a quick pronunciation guide so that you don’t embarrass yourself the next time you gab about politics.
Announced They’re Running
Mayor of South Bend, Indiana
In 2016, the South Bend mayor wrote an essay with a helpful hint: “My surname, Buttigieg (Boot-edge-edge), is very common in my father’s country of origin, the tiny island of Malta, and nowhere else.”
Former secretary of housing and urban development
Castro’s first name contains a soft Spanish J, which sounds like an H, and an accent indicating emphasis on the a. So it should be pronounced: “who-lee-AN.”
Congresswoman from Hawaii
The congresswoman’s first name is pronounced “TULL-see.” Tulsi is a Hindu name that refers to a holy basil plant featured in Bhagavad Gita scripture.
Senator from New York
An aide to the senator told the New York Times in 2009 that the first letter in her surname is “a sibilant G.” So the correct pronunciation is “JILL-uh-brand.” And remember, it’s “KEER-sten,” not “Kristen” or “KUR-sten.” The name “Gillibrand” reportedly has roots in medieval England.
Senator from California
The senator has in the past said that her first name is basically the word “comma” with a “la” at the end. Harris released a campaign ad during her 2016 senate run in which children demonstrate the proper pronunciation. They also advise against common mispronunciations such as “cam-el-uh,” “kum-MAHL- uh,” and “karmel-uh.” Her name comes from the Sanskrit word for lotus.
Senator from Minnesota
The senator’s surname is pronounced “KLOW-bu-shar,” with the first syllable rhyming with word blow.
Senator from Ohio
“Sherrod” essentially sounds like the name of the singer “Cher” with an “ud” appended to the end.
Former governor of Colorado
You can basically sound out “Hickenlooper” phonetically: “HIH-ken-looper”
Governor of Washington
“Inslee” is also pretty straightforward: “IN-z-lee”
Robert “Beto” O’Rourke
Former congressman from Texas
Beto, the diminutive form of the name “Roberto,” is a nickname that the former Texas representative has kept since childhood. It sounds like the word bet with an “oh” at the end. Sen. Ted Cruz consistently mispronounced his opponent’s name as “bait-oh” during their 2018 Senate race.