That’s Not My Name

Student Perspectives on Mispronunciation of Names

Thats+Not+My+Name

Graphic by Deana Trautz

That’s Not My Name

Throughout the 20 days that school has been in session, attendance has been taken about 80 times.

During this time, some names that were called have been mispronounced, possibly resulting in students making a face and replying “here” to the wrong name.

Senior Vaniya Khan said that her name is the most mispronounced during the first two days of a new school year. Although Khan makes an effort to correct them during the first occurrences, she said that after a while she simply stops.

“When teachers are calling role and they pause at a certain name, I infer that it must be me,” Khan said. “I correct them the first couple of times, if the name still doesn’t stick, I don’t correct [them] anymore because I feel like it is an unnecessary inconvenience.”

When teachers are calling role and they pause at a certain name, I infer that it must be me,”

— Vaniya Khan (12)

The mispronunciation of a name can have differing effects on a person. Sophomore Efrain Vera said that he became much more easygoing and less offended by things like people mispronouncing his name.

“I learned to laugh about small things like that and not overreact,” Vera said. “I’ve been able to laugh and then assist in pronunciation instead of getting angry.”

Senior Svitlana Poliakova said that while roll call made her feel uncomfortable and awkward at first, now she will laugh when someone pronounces her name wrong.

“I am not really affected, I just laugh with everyone else because it is funny how people try hard to pronounce my name but fail,” Poliakova said.

Khan also said that sitting through roll call became less painful with time.

“Since the same things have happened each year, I have gotten used to it,” Khan said. “But I feel as though my classmates are more irritated at the mispronunciation of my name than I am.”

In contrast, freshman Raniya Laneau said that she became anxious about the pronunciation of her name.

“In seventh grade, some of the kids would mispronounce [my name] on purpose to make fun of me,” Laneau said. “When I came to high school, I was scared that it would happen to me again.”

Despite having to listen to people butcher their names, some of these students said that they would not choose to change their names. Vera said that he would not change his name due to its family significance, as he was named after both his father and grandfather. Khan said that she would not change hers as a form of respect towards her parents.

My name is the biggest part of who I am, and without my name I would have never figured out who I am.”

— Raniya Laneau (9)

“A name is one thing that sticks with you from birth and it is what makes you an individual and unique from the rest,” Khan said. “My parents decided to give me this name out of love and consideration, so I think changing my name would be a form of disrespect towards myself and my parents.”

Each of these students have varying opinions on the importance of a name. While Poliakova describes it simply as a word that a person is known or referred to as, Laneau said that she believes the purpose of a name is to reveal who people are.

“[A name] creates your personality and helps people understand your identity,” Laneau said.“My name is the biggest part of who I am, and without my name I would have never figured out who I am. ”