This week, Twice appeared on the Kelly Clarkson Show to perform their latest English single, “Moonlight Sunrise.” While fans were excited to see the K-pop girl group, many especially appreciated just how warmly and respectfully Kelly handled their interview, which was conducted with the help of an onstage translator.
Despite there being nine members in the group (Nayeon, Jeongyeon, Momo, Sana, Jihyo, Mina, Dahyun, Chaeyoung, and Tzuyu), Kelly made sure to address each woman — and by name — during her questions, bonding over their mutual starts on audition shows and their favorite foods.
However, fans particularly appreciated how Kelly made a point to pronounce each member’s name properly by paying attention to how their translator pronounced them — even though she’d prefaced the interview by saying she hoped she was saying their names right and joking, “If I don’t, I’m sorry. I’m Texan.”
At one point, after addressing Nayeon — which Kelly pronounced Neigh-yeon (as in neighborhood) — Kelly caught that their translator, when repeating the question in Korean, pronounced her name Nigh-yeon (like, “the end is nigh“). “Nayeon, sorry,” Kelly quickly chimed in, correcting her pronunciation.
Later, when asking Tzuyu — who is also the only Taiwanese member of the group — about the meaning of “Moonlight Sunrise,” Kelly took a moment to confirm with both their translator and Tzuyu the proper way to say her name.
“Tzuyu,” Kelly originally began — pronouncing it tzoo-yoo — before turning to their translator to check if she’d said it right. Their translator then pronounced her names both ways — phonetically based on the English romanization, as Kelly had, and properly in Korean.
Now, to break the fourth wall since I’m writing this to you, dear reader, work with me for a minute: In Chinese, Tzuyu is written 子瑜, and in Korean, Tzuyu is translated to and written 쯔위. That’s then pronounced Jjeu-Wee in Korean — or, as Twice fans (called Once) affectionately romanize it in English, Chewy.
“Jjeu-Wee? Oh, OK — wait, wait, what?” Kelly asked, surprised. “Tzoo-yoo is good,” their translator quickly said, but Kelly insisted: “No, no. It’s Tzoo-yoo? How would you say it?”
“In Korean, it’s Jjeu-Wee,” their translator explained. Kelly then turned to Tzuyu herself and asked, “How do you want me to say it?” to which Tzuyu responded, “Jjeu-Wee.”
“How you say it is adorable! OK, so, Jjeu-Wee — I think I said it right, I’m trying,” Kelly said, continuing on to ask about the meaning behind their latest single, “Moonlight Sunrise,” which Tzuyu revealed to be a metaphor meant to parallel that “fluttering heart feeling” when you’re in love.
The entire exchange lasted less than 30 seconds, but it absolutely captured the audience’s hearts. Many people called out just how comfortable Kelly seemed to make the group feel and appreciated the effort she made to properly say all of their names — especially by asking Tzuyu directly rather than only acknowledging their translator.
And there you have it, folks. While it seems so simple, it speaks volumes about how much work we need to do to normalize properly pronouncing non-English names — or, at least, taking a moment to make an effort to.