Say my name, say my name!

About a year ago, I read an article and saved it for a post. Today, we get the post! The post is about how students function in a class room when their name is constantly being pronounced in a wrong way, or how they feel when a teacher, or person of authority, makes the time to actually learn how to say their name properly. You can read the whole article here.

I struggled with this all the time in Korea. Whenever I got a new student, I would ask them their name, which I always get the Korean answer. Then, I would ask if they have an English name. Only one other teacher used their English names at the school where I worked. When I ask others about a specific student they would have no idea who I am talking about. I asked why we even use English names if I’m the only one it’s for, and the answer is “because they are too hard to pronounce”. But ya know what – I can learn. And I did learn for the adults that I teach. I ask them their names, which they tell me with their last name included so I always ask if they are ok with just their first name or if they want their full name – it’s their choice. I felt bad that English teachers as a whole forced children to take English names when their Korean names have so much meaning and beauty behind them. (although one boy did name himself “Number 6 Big Mac Air Conditioner” I was allowed to call him Number 6 for short).

But this also applies to people like me who have unique names. Most people get my name wrong at first. I had a music teacher in grade 8 call me the wrong name from November until the end of the year. Every. Single. Class. I lost all respect for him. It was horrible. And it’s not even like my name is hard to pronounce. Sure there is a “y” in the middle where there is usually an “i” and that can throw people for a loop. I let it pass the first time, or congratulate those who are able to say it properly without hearing it first. But this teacher just didn’t care. He continued to say it wrong the whole time. And this was the first time I had ever had a teacher say it wrong. Before I was in a country school and every teacher knew how to say it.

My parents still get Christmas cards with my name spelled wrong in them. During my most recent contract in Korea, I had a student who loved to write me little notes for holidays. And every time, there was that “i” in the middle. She had never heard my English name before, never knew anyone who had the “i” in the middle, had only ever seen it written on the board with the “y” but STILL, there it was – that stupid “i”.

How about you folks? Do you have unique names or know someone who does? Do they feel the same way?

15 thoughts on “Say my name, say my name!

  1. My last name is never, ever pronounced correctly. Ever. I usually politely correct folks and really appreciate their attempts at stumbling through the correct pronunciation. I mean, I get it, there are way too many consonants in there for just one name. It’s the people who don’t even try who just kill me. How would you like it if I didn’t even make any attempt to pronounce your name correctly, SusAWNn?!

    Liked by 1 person

      • Major props to you for trying to tackle Korean names. I can’t tell you how many times I’ve said, “I’m sorry, could you pronounce that oneee more time?” when meeting international folks. I hate sounding like a big dumb American but oye I’m not sure if my brain/tongue can actually properly process some of their names!

        Liked by 1 person

        • For my Korean students, it was easier for me if they wrote the name in Korean and then I could just learn it from its written form. Plus it helped me to learn the Korean alphabet and how the characters fit together in their written form


  2. I totally understand this! My real name is hard to pronounce (Rosie is a nickname) and my last name is Kelly, which is also a first name. People often reply to my emails calling me Kelly and it’s kind of offensive to me that they didn’t take the time to properly read what I wrote and call my by my first name.

    Liked by 1 person

  3. Ugh, I feel your pain! My first and last name are always mispronounced!! Even after I correct people, they still revert back to saying it how they are used to. With my first name it is simply a matter of pronouncing it the English way instead of the French way. 😦

    Liked by 1 person

  4. My maiden name was apparently very difficult for people to say correctly. I never understood why because it’s pronounced exactly as it’s spelled. It’s Italian… not that complicated! Sandra was never a problem. However… if anyone just assumes they can call me (ick) “Sandy, I want to punch them in the face. Especially if they do it after I ask them not to.

    Liked by 1 person

  5. It happens to me all the time since I moved to the UK… I’m French-Canadian so I have a French-sounding name. Now I just tell people to call me Frede (pronounce Fred) but even that seems complicated and the answer I often get is ‘isn’t that a boy’s name?’… And my last name has a silent X at the end so it’s even worst. I keep joking to my boyfriend that we need to marry so I can take his last name and at least be done with spelling mine! But… I’m the one who moved here so I guess I knew it would happen…

    Liked by 1 person

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