How to Pronounce Kamala

Using NameCoach to help people pronounce U.S. Vice Presidential candidate Kamala Harris’s name correctly.

U.S. Senator Kamala Harris speaking with attendees at the 2019 National Forum on Wages and Working People hosted by the Center for the American Progress Action Fund and the SEIU at the Enclave in Las Vegas, Nevada. (Photo courtesy of Gage Skidmore via Flickr/CC BY-SA 2.0)

One of the most powerful words in any language is a person’s name. It’s something I learned in college reading Ursula K. Le Guin’s “A Wizard of Earthsea.” And it’s something recent research studies back up, using science to show that our brains involuntarily respond to the sound of our own names.

Pronouncing someone’s name correctly is important. In an educational setting, for example, saying a student’s name right has a direct, postive impact on that student’s long term success. Correct name pronunciation translates to the business world, too, in areas such as customer support, sales, and recruiting. LinkedIn recently announced a name pronunciation feature for their users.

Now, imagine you’re in the running to be the next Vice President of the United States and newscasters, pundits, and even your own colleagues butcher the pronunciation of your name in front of millions of people around the world. That’s what happened (and continues to happen) to Democratic Vice Presidential candidate Kamala Harris.

Kamala’s experience is one Praveen Shanbhag knows all too well. He created a company, NameCoach, out of the pain his family experienced when his sister’s name was mispronounced as she crossed the stage during her graduation ceremony. Praveen wanted to make sure no other family had to go through what his did. In the years since he founded the company, universities around the world have used NameCoach to help teachers and administrators create a stronger sense of inclusion for their student bodies.

In response to recent and ongoing events in the United States, Praveen used the company’s platform to support the efforts of those fighting against racial injustice. Using a list compiled and maintained by NPR CodeSwitch, he and his team created audio files for the correct name pronunciation of Black Americans killed by police.

It is intended to support those who are encouraging the public to hear and say these names, to help recognize their humanity and memorialize them. It is also intended to support the correct pronunciation of these names in national discourse. — The NameCoach Team

Which is why, today, we see Praveen once again turning the platform to address issues on the national stage, using it for civic and democratic good to ensure that the too-often-mispronounced name of a candidate for one of the highest offices in the land is said correctly. You can listen to it below.

And if you want to embed this into your own site or app or share it with your networks, NameCoach published resources for you on their site.

One response to “How to Pronounce Kamala”

  1. […] Pichai” by author Harmeet Kaur, the author describes how Sen. David Perdue lacked the ability to pronounce Kamala Harris’s name. Not only was it evident that he lacked the ability, but according to the statement he also brushed […]


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