It might be assumed that when a billionaire running a $1.5 trillion California-headquartered company — vital to the global economy – testifies on Capitol Hill, senators will pronounced his name correctly.
Sundar Pichai, the Indian American CEO of Alphabet, the parent company of Google, joined fellow chief executives Mark Zuckerberg of Facebook and Jack Dorsey of Twitter by video chat on Wednesday to discuss hate speech, disinformation, and content moderation, just five days to go before the US election.
A panel of both Democrat and Republican senators questioned the three tech moguls about issues of concern regarding their various online platforms — and yet repeatedly mispronounced Mr Pichai’s name. This is his third appearance before Congress.
Born in Chennai, India, Mr Pichai’s name is pronounced “pea” as in the vegetable, and “chai” as in the beverage.
Despite there even being YouTube videos explaining how to pronounce his name, senators apparently struggled with the two syllables, variously referring to him as “Mr Pick-Eye” or “Mr Pee-Chay”.
Chairman of the Committee on Commerce, Science, and Transportation, Senator Roger Wicker went with “Pick-Eye” in his opening remarks.
Colorado Senator Cory Gardner was the second to mispronounce the name of the CEO.
Senator Amy Klobuchar tried “Pee-Chay” before getting the correct pronunciation on her second attempt.
Unfortunately, after that senators Maria Cantwell, Marsha Blackburn, and Mike Lee all reverted to “Pick-Eye”, perhaps taking the lead from Chairman Wicker.
Given the subject matter of the hearing, social media users were paying close attention and expressed displeasure and disbelief that no one had even thought to check the pronunciation of the name of one of the most important figures in his field.
There were, after all, only three panellists.
A quick google produces several YouTube videos explaining the correct pronunciation.