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How to pronounce Mahershala Ali and other Oscar nominees' names

Are you saying "Isabelle Huppert" correctly? What about "Denis Villeneuve"?
Mahershala Ali Dev Patel Isabelle Huppert

Please make sure your saying the names ofMahershala Ali (of "Moonlight"), Dev PateA24, Mark Rogers, Sony Pictures Classics

Don’t pull a Travolta. Chances are you’re probably pronouncing plenty of this year’s Oscar nominees’ names wrong. Like Mahershala Ali — how badly are you butchering it? Do you know how to say “Denis Villeneuve”? Are you pronouncing “Viola” in Viola Davis right? Do you sound French enough when saying “Isabelle Huppert”? Here’s our guide to get you on the right track, and then to snootily correct people who are saying these wrong:

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Mahershala Ali
The “House of Cards” alum may win the Best Supporting Actor prize for “Moonlight.” Even if he doesn’t, he’s someone we’ll hopefully be seeing tons of from now on. So you better get it right. It’s pronounced mah-HER-shuh-luh — although his birth name is actually "Mahershalalhashbaz."

Dev Patel
There’s some controversy over how to say the “Lion” actor’s first name. In India it’s probably pronounced roughly like “Dave.” But he appears to go with a simple “Dev” on American talk shows — or doesn’t correct people who get it wrong. Anyway, it’s pronounced how it looks: “Dev.”

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Isabelle Huppert
First, make sure you’re getting the first name right: EE-zah-bell. Then you can move on to the trickier surname: EU-pair. Say it together: EE-zah-bell EU-pair. The “Elle” star should win over Emma Stone based solely on having the cooler name (even though Stephen Colbert doesn't go full French with "Isabelle" in the clip below.)

Viola Davis
Don’t be the one saying “VEE-oh-lah.” Her character from “Suicide Squad” will have you shot, or you’ll be the victim of some of her first-class “Blackhat” side-eye. It’s VIE-oh-la.

Viggo Mortensen
Much like Vigo the Carpathian, the painting-villain from “Ghostbusters II” with almost the same name, the “Captain Fantastic” star goes by VEE-goh. Pronounce it correctly and VEE-goh won’t make you kill a deer with a hunter’s knife in the woods as he does in his Oscar-nom’d movie.

Damien Chazelle
You’re probably pronouncing this right, but just in case: The “La La Land” writer-director’s surname sounds like “gazelle.”

Denis Villeneuve
This one’s a bit of a pickle: You may be able to get the first name — basically “Denny” but with a more French-Canadianified “EE” at the end — but the last name is even harder than it looks. It’s VEEL-neuv. Don’t say “VEEL-a-neuv.” VEEL-neuv.

Maren Ade
Her name probably won’t be pronounced on Sunday; it’s the German director’s film, “Toni Erdmann,” which is nominated (for Best Foreign Language Film), not her. But you might as well get it right. It’s MARE-in AHH-day. Now go see “Toni Erdmann” and laugh your ass off.

Follow Matt Prigge on Twitter @mattprigge

 
 
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