This week, he appeared twice on the Kelly Clarkson Show to perform his new English single, “Moonlight Sunrise”. Although the fans were happy to see a group of K-pop girls, many people were especially interested in how Kelly conducted their interview with love and respect, which was done with the help of a translator.
According to Kelly, Twice was the first K-pop group to sell out two North American stadiums and the first to perform in a North American stadium. Last year, they were also the top K-pop girl group on Spotify.
Although there are nine members in the group (Nayeon, Jeongyeon, Momo, Sana, Jihyo, Mina, Dahyun, Chaeyoung and Tzuyu), Kelly made sure to tell each woman – by name – in time. his question, joining together for their departure and a presentation on their favorite food.
Kelly debated on American Idol, where the team twice applied for the team at 16, a South Korean television show in which trainees compete for a place in the girls’ team.
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.
Fun fact: Mina, Sana, and Momo are Japanese, which helped contribute to the group’s popularity in Japan.
“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.
For context, Korean and Chinese don’t have the same phonology.
“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.
Thanks, Kelly, for setting a great example for talk show hosts and folks everywhere! Catch the full moment here:
And check out Twice’s performance of “Moonlight Sunrise” on the Kelly Clarkson Show here: