Name Pronunciation: What to Do When You Don’t Know How to Pronounce a Name
Names are an important part of people’s identities. This remains true whether it be their birth-given name or their chosen names. Names can have significant background stories and meanings to them whether it be cultural, familial, or personal. As we aim to foster community on campus, we should do our best to recognize and pronounce people’s names correctly and go about not knowing one’s name pronunciation in a respectful manner. We encourage you to check out the resources below for more information about name pronunciation.
What to Do When You Don’t Know How to Pronounce a Name
- Introduce yourself first and then ask for their name: “Hi, my name is ___, I go by (pronouns) and you are?”
- If you have trouble catching their name or feel as if you are going to struggle pronouncing it, ask them to repeat it slowly: “Can you please repeat your name slowly? I want to be sure I got it right.”
- Be open to correction: “If I say your name wrong, please correct me as many times as it takes to get it right.”
What to Avoid
- Say you're bad at names, while that may be true it puts out the idea that someone’s name is too much or too difficult to remember.
- Ask for an alternate name or “American” name. More times than not, if someone has a preferred name or nickname they want to go by they will let you know when they introduce themselves.
- Make comments about names that may seem well intentioned but can be taken otherwise: “Oh, I've never seen it spelled like that,” “Wow, that’s very different.”