How should you pronounce Jewish names in English? This Jewish TikToker explains

Jewish TikToker Yuval Ben Hayoun uploaded a video that went viral debating this very question.

 TikTok app is seen on a smartphone in this illustration taken, July 13, 2021.  (photo credit: REUTERS/DADO RUVIC)
TikTok app is seen on a smartphone in this illustration taken, July 13, 2021.
(photo credit: REUTERS/DADO RUVIC)

A TikTok video that went viral this week has raised debate on how one should pronounce Jewish names when speaking in English.

The video, posted by the account @yuvaltheterrible, has gained over 1.6 million views on the app as of Saturday as well as over 340 thousand likes and 3,930 comments.

"When I had many Spanish-speaking coworkers, they would pronounce my name as 'Hennefer' and I never corrected them because they were still saying, Jennifer." @borealwild's comment on the video got almost 8,390 likes.

In the video, Yuval criticizes another TikToker for claiming that the name "Sarah" is Israeli. He says that the name isn't Israeli because it uses sounds that "do not exist in Hebrew," specifically mentioning the name's "r" sound — nor is it only exclusively a common name in Israel.

"I had an aunt named Sara," he said while using an Israeli accent to pronounce her name. "We called her Doda Sara, but if we were speaking English to an American friend, we would introduce her as Aunt Sarah because it is the same name."

 It's completely unrealistic to prevent our youth from using TikTok. (credit: Solen Feyissa/Unsplash) It's completely unrealistic to prevent our youth from using TikTok. (credit: Solen Feyissa/Unsplash)
@yuvaltheterrible #stitch with @Sara Falcon wasnt planning on jumping on this trend but this struck a nerve #israel #israeli #hebrew #accents #sara ♬ original sound - Yuval BH

So how do we say these names?

The question now is how should one pronounce Jewish names when speaking in English. Should they pronounce it the same way it is in a different language? Should people try to change their accents to say it properly?

Yuval argues in the video that people should pronounce names depending on what language they are speaking currently. For example, saying the name "Sarah" when speaking in English should have more emphasis on the "r" than when simply stating the name during a conversation in Hebrew, where the aforementioned would not have much emphasis on the "r" sound.

The debate on the pronunciation of Israeli names has been ongoing for years. The example that the TikToker gave was that if an English speaker pronounced his name in their accent as "You-vahl" instead of the Israeli pronunciation "Yoo-val," he wouldn't mind because it is still his name

"If someone were to have called me 'You-vahl Ben Haiyoon,' I wouldn't tell them, 'No, it's Yuval Ben Chayun,'" he said. "I mean, that's how my dad says it. That's how Israeli say it to me. But Yuval is still my name."

"And nobody is 'insisting' on butchering it," @jjjawfishh is the top comment on the video with over 27 thousand likes. "We just only know Sara to be pronounced as 'Sare-uh', that's how that works. We pronounce it phonetically."