Let’s talk about names.
Not English names. But your name… in English.
Do you feel it sounds natural when you say your name in English?
Do you change something in how you pronounce it, for people to understand you better?
Do people ask you to say it again when they hear it for the first time?
I have a long history with the pronunciation of my name. When I moved to the U.S. for the first time, I changed it to Julia so it didn’t sound foreign. And when I pronounce it in my videos, I don’t really pronounce it the way I pronounce it in my native tongue, but I ‘Englishize’ it.
At the same time, I’m obsessed with pronouncing names the way they’re pronounced in the language they were given. I feel it shows respect for the history of the person and the sounds of their language.
This is why in the past few weeks, as I was watching interviews with Gal Gadot – a fellow Isareli (and a wonder woman herself) – promoting the new movie Wonder Woman 1984, I couldn’t help but laugh a bit, every time they said her name.
I mean, it was okay by English standards, sure, but to my Isareli ear it sounded… a bit… off.
So today, I decided to reverse engineer everything I’ve been doing until today, and teach you how to say Gal Gadot with an Israeli accent!!
But if you’ve known me for a while, you know it’s not going to be just about that, right?
Because I’m also going to share with you why I think Gal is so successful in English, as well as one of the funniest clips I’ve seen – laughter out loud is guaranteed!!
Hey everyone, it’s Hadar. Thank you so much for joining me. Today I’m going to teach you how to pronounce the name Gal Gadot.
So Wonder Woman 1984 is out, and a lot of people are speaking about Gal Gadot. But this is not how you pronounce her name, this is how English speakers pronounce her name. So, this is what I’m here for. I’m going to use my Israeliness to tell you how you really pronounce her name. And then I’m going to talk about the things that make Gal so awesome and inspirational when it comes to English, fluency and pronunciation. So stay tuned.
Let’s begin with her first name – Gal. Now here’s the thing. When you say someone’s name, what you’re likely to do is transform the sounds that exist in their native language and in their name into sounds that you’re more comfortable, and that exist in your native language.
This is why a lot of English speakers say ‘Gal’ [with an American accent] instead of ‘Gal’ [with an israeli accent], or sometimes they might say ‘Gaal’. So the ‘g’ sound is the same. Great, check. And then we have the ‘uh’ sound in Hebrew. ‘uh’, very simple. Actually, it’s closer to the ‘uh’ as in ‘cup’ in American English, ‘uh’.
So, the beginning of the word ‘Gal’ actually sounds like ‘gut’ – “I have a gut feeling”, right? The spelling doesn’t help because a lot of people see the A in the name, and then they think, “Okay, it’s probably ‘a’ as in ‘cat’ – ‘Gal’, or ‘aa’ as in ‘father’ – ‘Gaal’. But no, it’s right there in the middle. So you want to keep your jaw more closed; the tongue is flat, the lips are relaxed – ‘guh’, ‘guh’, ‘guh’, very straightforward.
And then, the L. The L in American English is a dark L when it’s at the end of the word. That means that when you pronounce the L, you also raise the back of the tongue and you restrict something there in the back that creates this weird sound. We call it weird sound, native speakers just call it an L, at the end of the word. ‘Gaal’, ‘Gaal’, or ‘Gal’, ‘Gal’.
However, in Hebrew, we don’t have that. It’s a very simple, clear L where you bring the tip of the tongue up and that’s about it. ‘La’, ‘La’, ‘Gal’, ‘Gal’. So it sounds a little lighter and a little shorter: ‘Gal’ [American] – ‘Gal’, ‘Gal’ ‘Gal’ [Israeli].
Then the last name is Gadot. Gadot. The beginning is very much the same as in Gal – ‘Ga-‘, ‘Ga-‘. Gadot. Check. You already know how to pronounce that. The second syllable is ‘dot’, ‘dot’. While in American English, there is no pure O sound – there is either ‘ow’ as in ‘go’ or ‘aa’ as in ‘honest’ – ‘ow’ – ‘aa’. This is why most people pronounce it as ‘Gadowt’. But in Hebrew it’s a pure O, O. So it’s kind of like the beginning of ‘ow’, but then you stop right after the beginning. It’s also super short – ‘Gadot’.
And then the T in English, it’s a held T, which means there is no T there – it’s just an abrupt stop of air – ‘Gado’, right, you don’t hear anything there – ‘Gado’. That doesn’t happen in Hebrew: a T is a T as a T is a T – ‘Gadot’. It’s not overly pronounced – ‘GadoT’, no. But it’s not hidden or swallowed, like most people pronounce it – ‘Gado’.
In Hebrew there are only five vowels – a, e, i, o, u – in comparison to English that has between 16 to 18 vowels, depending on the dialect. So, this is why we want to reduce it. There’s a lot less jaw movement, everything is super chill and relaxed. Gal Gadot. Gal Gadot. It’s kind of like we don’t want you to read our lips when we speak. Gal Gadot.
Now, let me share with you why I absolutely love Gal Gadot. And it’s not just because she’s a rock star and she’s like one of the biggest movie stars ever, and she’s also Israeli, and she is very much herself, she’s so charming and her personality always shines through; but not because of that. I love her because of her English journey.
Because what is so unique to her is that she never tried to hide the fact that she’s a non-native speaker and she never used it to stop her from achieving her goals, and for showing up fully like herself – authentically and genuinely. And whenever she faced a struggle – and I’ve seen many interviews where she said something wrong, or people didn’t understand her – and instead of feeling self-conscious about it, she simply laughed it out. She said, “Oh no, it’s my English”, or “No, that’s not how I pronounce it” or something like that. And she stepped into her power and she said to herself, “This is not going to stop me.”
“You guys got to be really great friends on this, right?”
“Oh my God. We, we slept toge… We…
“Sorry, it’s my English. No, we had a slumber party.”
“It’s a fuwt.”
“Fuwt? Like foot or food? Foot? You said fuwt.
Is it a fuwt that you eat fuwt, or fuwt with toes?”
And even though I’m sure that inside herself she might have thought, “Oh, you know, I should know better by now, or this, or that, and what are people going to think?”, she never let it stop her, which I think is so incredibly important.
Because as speaker of a second language, there’s always going to be a struggle, and there’s always going to be something. The question is, are you letting it stop you on your way to your success? And I can tell you that she absolutely did not. And when she did face a struggle, she simply made it her own and she let it go easily or actually made fun of it, which is always, always, you know, it’s such a beautiful gift – to be able to laugh at yourself, and not to make a big deal, and not to take it personally.
“I don’t want to be Bob Sponge”.
“As a gig”.
“As a geek out”.
“I didn’t get the joke? Shoot! ”
So that’s it. Practice the pronunciation of the name, or – you don’t have to – you can also work on your Israeli accent. DM me, if you want more information about how to speak with an Israeli accent. You can find me at @hadar.accentsway on Instagram. And in the meantime, I hope you enjoyed it. It was a little different than what I usually do, but I think it was fun, at least for me.
Thank you so much for watching. And I’ll see you next week in the next video. Bye.
So, if you want to practice your Israeli Accent – you know who to speak to!
No, I’m kidding- I’m too busy with English stuff.
Have I told you already that I’m working on my new transformational program that is going to be out in March? It’s going to be so exciting and good!
Also, have you watched the new Wonder Woman? If so – what do you think?
Hadar, thank you for sharing this. You’re far supportive to show us that kind of examples and make us little bit more confident and bold to use English without fears.
Your English pronunciation is flawed.
Hey Bee, did you mean flawed or flawless? 🙂
Gal Gadot is fine. How to pronounce your name Hadar Shemesh. That is another video I would love to watch. Thanks for your video on Gal Gadot.
This is Karen from Team Shemesh.
That’s a great suggestion. We’ll put it in our content bank of ideas and try to do something like this in the future ?
The english word is pronunciation not pronounciation.
Oh, Hadar, thank you so much for Gal’s example of English imperfectness — so encouraging!