Tesla or Tezla: Here’s the correct pronunciation

What is the correct pronunciation of the word “Tesla”? It’s a controversial topic. Everyone except Elon Musk and his passionate followers pronounces it as “Tesla.” 

Tesla, Inc is named after “Nikola Tesla,” the famous Serbian-American inventor. In Serbian language, people write this name as “Никола Тесла.” Serbians pronounces the second part of the name “Тесла” as Tesla — têsla (Tess-la). Therefore, The absolute correct way to pronounce Tesla is “Tesla” — têsla — (Tess-la).

Let’s go deep into this topic.

This type of argument is not new. For example, how do you pronounce the German car manufacturer name “Porsche”?

If you pronounce it as “Porscha,” then you are correct. Otherwise, you’re mistaken. Porsche made the following video to let people know how to pronounce its name correctly.

Every year hundreds of thousands of people immigrate to the US. They all come from different countries and speak various languages. 

Immigrants who come from Russia (россия) would pronounce their country name as “Rossiya” – Россия (ross-SEE-ya) in Russian. However, we — English speakers — pronounce this as “Rasha.” Certain people or groups of people in America pronounce “Rasha” does not mean we are correct, and those Russian immigrants are pronouncing their country name wrong. But, the correct pronunciation is the way Russian people pronounce it. But due to our English language limitation, we pronounce it differently.

Let’s look at another example. In Arabic, the name “فاطمة” is common. In English, we write this name as “Fatima,” which is not entirely correct spelling. However, there is no way to correct this spelling. It’s because the English alphabet does not have any phonetic’s or phonetics symbol for the character “ط.” So, when we say “Fatima,” Arabian people think that we are mispronouncing their name. Several times, I faced this problem in Dubai.

I’m saying that the correct pronunciation of a word is the way native speakers pronounce. Anything else is mispronunciation. This is why we should pronounce “Tesla.”

Elon Musk was born in South Africa. At the age of 17, he moved to Canada. After two years, he moved to the US. As he was born and raised in South Africa, his English has an accent. Moreover, Elon Musk’s accent has evolved over the years. For example, In 2010, CNBC interviewed Elon Musk outside of NASDAQ in New York City after the Tesla’s (TSLA) IPO. Here’s the video:

In this video, you would notice Elon’s accent is different than today’s accent. If you listen carefully, you would hear Elon pronounce his company name as “Tezla.” 

However, believe it not, even Elon Musk was not aware that he pronounces his company name as “Tezla” until a 2018 CBS interview. At that interview, Lesley Stahl pointed out to Elon that he pronounces his company name as “Tezla.” Here is the video:

From the above videos, we can see Elon Musk pronounces the company name as “Tezla,” not because he thinks it is the correct pronunciation, but because of his South African accents dictate his pronunciation. From the above video, we can see that, according to Elon Musk, both pronunciation — “Tesla” or “Tezla” — is okay.

Why people pronounce “Tezla”?

Many people say that Elon Musk is the co-founder of Tesla [it is a controversial issue], so he pronounces it correctly. Some fans follow Elon Musk fervently. Some fans pronounce “Tezla” because Elon said it. We met a few followers who said they would not change their pronunciation from “Tezla” to “Tesla” until Elon changes his. 

What is the correct pronunciation of “Tesla”?

We found many people get triggered if they hear “Tezla.” So, if you want to follow Elon Musk and want to pronounce the way he pronounces and don’t care about what others think, then you should say “Tezla.” Elon Musk pronounces, in a certain way, does not mean he is right. In our opinion, if you want to pronounce the way native Serbian speaker pronounces, say “Tesla.” And this is the correct pronunciation.

In conclusion, the absolute correct way to pronounce Tesla is “Tesla” — têsla — (Tess-la).