Sports stars rarely deal with name mispronunciations, thanks to years of dedicated journalism spanning from their college days into their professional careers. Between interviews, radio spots, and talking head assessments, their names are uttered so many times that there’s very little room for error in pronunciation.
Somehow, despite all of his success, Travis Kelce’s last name slipped through the cracks all of these years. Widely pronounced “Kel-see” by everyone associated with football, the Chiefs tight end revealed that his name is actually pronounced “Kels.” The “e” at the end is silent.
It sounds like Kelce decided long ago to allow his name to be pronounced phonetically by teammates and media, instead of constantly correcting those around him. Anyone with a unique name knows the struggle of a teacher botching it during roll call; it’s the reason many nicknames exist in the first place. Kelce doesn’t seem to mind the mispronunciation, so it will probably never change.
Even a couple of his high-profile teammates with whom he’s played for years seem to be surprised by the revelation.
Need a bit of Jeopardy! trivia for your Thursday afternoon? This entire situation reminds me of a lesson I learned from a high school Latin teacher. The word forte, meaning “a thing at which someone excels” (e.g. Writing is not my forte), is commonly pronounced “for-tay,” but is actually pronounced “fort.” It’s one of those words, though, that has been mispronounced for so long that it has essentially become a different word entirely. If you feel like being a little smug this weekend at your BBQ, drop some knowledge on your buddies and correct their miserable ignorance of words with Latin roots. Or be like Travis Kels and just keep it to yourself instead as you score touchdowns and win Super Bowls.
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