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.

ADVERTISEMENT

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 ChamblissClarence (Saxby) Saxby ChamblissFormer Georgia Sen. Max Cleland dies at 79 Effective and profitable climate solutions are within the nation's farms and forests Live coverage: Georgia Senate runoffs MORE (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 ChaffetzJason ChaffetzCongress's latest hacking investigation should model its most recent Fox News Audio expands stable of podcasts by adding five new shows The myth of the conservative bestseller MORE (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 LummisCynthia Marie LummisLobbyists turn to infrastructure law's implementation Republicans struggle to save funding for Trump's border wall Holiday season poses major test for Biden economy MORE (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 ShaheenCynthia (Jeanne) Jeanne ShaheenBiden administration resists tougher Russia sanctions in Congress GOP holds on Biden nominees set back gains for women in top positions Sununu setback leaves GOP scrambling in New Hampshire MORE (D-N.H.): Shu-HEEN
Sen. Jim RischJim Elroy RischProposal to move defense bill running into new GOP objections Senate nearing deal on defense bill after setback Senate GOP blocks defense bill, throwing it into limbo MORE (R-Idaho): RISH
Sen. Mark BegichMark Peter BegichAlaska Senate race sees cash surge in final stretch Alaska group backing independent candidate appears linked to Democrats Sullivan wins Alaska Senate GOP primary MORE (D-Alaska): BEG-itch
Sen. Mike JohannsMichael (Mike) Owen JohannsMeet the Democratic sleeper candidate gunning for Senate in Nebraska Farmers, tax incentives can ease the pain of a smaller farm bill Lobbying World MORE (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 NeugebauerRobert (Randy) Randolph NeugebauerCordray announces he's leaving consumer bureau, promotes aide to deputy director GOP eager for Trump shake-up at consumer bureau Lobbying World MORE (R-Texas): NAW-gu-bau-ur
Rep. Todd Tiahrt (R-Kan.): TEE-hart
Rep. Bob GoodlatteRobert (Bob) William GoodlatteFight breaks out between Jordan, Nadler over rules about showing video at Garland hearing The job of shielding journalists is not finished Bottom line MORE (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 InhofeJames (Jim) Mountain InhofeOvernight Defense & National Security — Senate looks to break defense bill stalemate Senate GOP moving toward deal to break defense bill stalemate Overnight Defense & National Security — US, Iran return to negotiating table MORE (R-Okla.): IN-hoff
Sen. Saxby Chambliss (R-Ga.): CHAM-bliss