The Importance of Correctly Pronouncing Names

Names BELatina Latinx
Photo courtesy of npr.org

When you have a name that is hard to pronounce, it’s a lifetime journey of correcting others until you reach the point of conforming to their butchered attempts. I get it, though; after a while, you figure, “oh, it’s not even a big deal” — but let me tell you, it certainly is. It’s an ongoing form of respect, effort, and a necessity for self-value.

It goes far beyond a slight inconvenience. Changing your name to solely benefit others can cause micro-aggression and a sense of not belonging. 

According to Vox, “The issue of names from outside the mainstream American milieu can also exacerbate existing issues of cultural or racial alienation.” It continues the narrative of being able only to pronounce mainstream names correctly and brush off the ones that are “out of the norm.” With all our technology at our fingertips, it only takes a minute to Google how to pronounce any name or simply to confirm with the person to make sure it’s being said correctly. So what’s stopping someone from putting the minuscule effort into play?

We need to start checking people when they try to butcher our names because it will create an easier pathway of acceptance for the next generation and help our self-esteem. It will eliminate any sense of feeling out of place, even if we think it’s easier to let it go rather than correct it. Imagine your child being in a classroom and the teacher constantly mispronouncing their name: the child will then belittle their name value not to make a scene. It then belittles other situations that could easily be handled by speaking up. I know because I’ve personally been there — and my name is more common than most. Furthermore, according to The Edvocate, “Mispronouncing a child’s name repeatedly can have a lasting impact on them. It can make the child lose their identity, affect their confidence and negatively impact the child’s academic performance.”

So, I insist on starting a personal challenge to those who get their name mishandled. Speak up. Politely correct those who mispronounce it. It’ll help practice voicing your basic needs, and in that, practice using your voice in other situations. If your kids live in this situation, let them know it’s okay to speak up. Encourage them, and reassure them that it’s not a big deal to correct something as basic as their valued name. The importance of this lesson will then be carried on and used in their everyday life — trust me, I know.