The Hill's Pronounciation Guide

The fictitious Mr. Smith came to Washington with one of the country’s most familiar last names.

But Mr. Luetkemeyer?

The 111th Congress has ushered in a long list of new names to learn. And many of them don’t roll off the tongue like Hoyer or Cantor.

The ensuing guide should help lawmakers, aides and anyone visiting Capitol Hill get off on the right foot with pronunciations for some of the new legislators who have less-than-straightforward surnames.

There’s also a bonus section that will help people brush up on some of the returnees’ names. While not infallible — when asked how to pronounce her boss’s last name, an aide to Sen. Saxby Chambliss (R-Ga.) with a sharp Southern twang remarked, “It just depends on where you’re from” — it will surely come in handy during chance run-ins on escalators or in the Longworth Cafeteria.


These names need no more than a phonetic breakdown:

Rep. Jared Polis (D-Colo.): POLE-iss
Rep. Suzanne Kosmas (D-Fla.): CAUZ-muss
Rep. Chellie Pingree (D-Maine): SHELL-ee PIN-gree
Rep. Dina Titus (D-Nev.): DEE-nuh TI-tus
Rep. Jason Chaffetz (R-Utah): CHAY-fits (Recognizing the difficulty of his last name, Chaffetz put the pronunciation as a “Tip of the Day” on his campaign website.)
Rep. Cynthia Lummis (R-Wyo): LUHM-iss
Rep. Tom Perriello (D-Va.): PEAR-e-ello (He replaced Republican Virgil Goode, whose last name had a deceptive “oo” sound, as in “food.”)
Rep. Frank Kratovil (D-Md.): KRAT-uh-vill
Rep. Dan Maffei (D-N.Y.): Mu-FAY

These names require more finesse:

Rep. Blaine Luetkemeyer (R-Mo.): LOO-ktu-my-ur. Notice the “k” sound comes before the “t” sound, even though the T is written first. This comes from the Brett Favre school of pronunciation (a professional football player whose last name is said “FARV”).
Rep. Ben Luján (D-N.M.): Loo-HAHN. (Spanish pronunciation is an entirely separate lesson — it’s ee-no-HO-sa, not hee-no-JO-sa; it’s Veh-LAW-skes, not Vu-LA-squez. Just remember here, the J is an “h” sound for native English speakers.)
Rep. Joseph Cao (R-La.): GAU
Rep. Steve Driehaus (D-Ohio): DREE-house
Rep. John Boccieri (D-Ohio): Bo-CHAIR-ee

The Senate edition:

Sen. Jeanne Shaheen (D-N.H.): Shu-HEEN
Sen. Jim Risch (R-Idaho): RISH
Sen. Mark Begich (D-Alaska): BEG-itch
Sen. Mike Johanns (R-Neb.): JOE-hands

Finally, here’s a refresher course for tricky names among incumbent lawmakers:

Rep. Jim Langevin (D-R.I.): LAN-ju-vin
Rep. Michael Capuano (D-Mass.): Cap-yoo-ON-o
Rep. Charlie Melancon (D-La.): Mu-LAW-so (This is unofficially the most difficult name to pronounce in Congress. The N’s are pronounced ever so slightly, but certainly not in the hard Nancy-Newton American way. Think French. Go nasal.)
Rep. Randy Neugebauer (R-Texas): NAW-gu-bau-ur
Rep. Todd Tiahrt (R-Kan.): TEE-hart
Rep. Bob Goodlatte (R-Va.): GOOD-lot (You’re not ordering a grande at Starbucks.)
Rep. Steve Buyer (R-Ind.): BOO-yur
Rep. Chaka Fattah (D-Pa.): Fu-TAH
Rep. Dana Rohrabacher (R-Calif.): ROAR-uh-bock-ur
Sen. Evan Bayh (D-Ind.): BI
Sen. Daniel Inouye (D-Hawaii): In-O-yay
Sen. James Inhofe (R-Okla.): IN-hoff
Sen. Saxby Chambliss (R-Ga.): CHAM-bliss