Why (And How) You Should Correct People Who Mispronounce Your Name

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Unless you’re Frankenstein’s monster, you probably have a name.


(Spoiler: the name of the guy who created Frankenstein was named Victor Frankenstein, not the monster! Okay, literature nerd. Calm down. Back to the article.)


Our names are more than a mere way of identification. It is the title in which we navigate the world and the people in it.


For those of you with multi-syllable names, it can be difficult to hear proper pronunciation on the behalf of people you just meet. As an Indian Muslim, both my Indian and Islamic culture has given me my fair share of names that are bound to confuse anyone who do not share the same ethnic or religious backgrounds.


Luckily, my four letter, two syllable name is easy to pronounce but my friends with names along the likes of Mutahara, Aishwarya, Omonikhefe or Harin have had their fair share of trouble.


So, why should you correct people who don’t get your name right?


I get it. It can be kind of redundant and annoying to continuously correct people who slip up a syllable or two. When you’re introducing yourself to someone for the first time, your name is probably the first thing that comes up in conversation. The answer to why you should politely correct those who pronounce your name wrong is simple and extends beyond respect. No matter who you are, you deserve to be treated with the simple courtesy of being addressed properly.


Oftentimes, ethnic names are chosen with a rich cultural and language-based background. As someone who believes in the benefits of enriching a multicultural community, I believe the slightest change in how you pronounce a name can make all the difference. If my motivation isn’t enough, listen to the words of Uzo Aduba (you know, the actress behind our favorite Litchfield inmate, Crazy Eyes).


“Do not ever erase those identifiers that are held in you whether it's your gap, whether it's your name, whether it's your food; It is yours and it was given to you and birth and it is yours to own,” said Abuda.


Still with me after reading the why? Here’s the how!


I’ve heard my friends with unique names completely butcher their own names while introducing themselves to others in an effort to avoid mispronunciation altogether. I hate it. These unrecognizable, odd sounding concoctions are more than an ear sore, they can be avoided altogether! To correct those who mispronounce your name, here are 3 methods you can use.


1. The Straightforward:

Pretty self-explanatory. Politely interrupt the person you’re talking to, and tell them they got your name wrong. More often than not, people will correct themselves and thank you for pointing out a mistake.


2. The “I’m-Gonna-Let-You-Finish-Talking-And-Then-Correct-You”:

Please ignore how similar the name of this step sounds like Kanye interrupting Taylor circa 2009. Anyway, wait for the person to stop talking, and say something along the lines of “actually, my name is pronounced like ___.” It’s obviously a nicer way to go about things, but, the hothead in me would prefer the former.


3. The Third- Person:

Usually, the usage of this tip depends on what you’re talking about, but, you can never have too many hypotheticals. Something like “If I were you, I would ask myself: ‘[Your name here], how would you respond to this situation’?” Something like that. If they get the hint on the first go, great! If not, you can always resort to the other tips.


Disclaimer: Although people’s accents can sometimes make it difficult to pronounce sounds and syllables correctly, there’s no harm in trying! 99.9% of the time, mispronunciation is an innocent mistake that can be fixed. So, go out there and relish in the glory of your title said correctly!