Teacher mispronouncing students names on purpose serves a purpose

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This story initially appeared on 03.08.22

Anybody who has lived within the U.S. with a nontraditionally American identify is aware of how arduous it may be to get some folks to pronounce your identify accurately.

My husband’s identify is Javad, which is just two syllables and objectively not arduous to say (juh-VAHD), however I’ve watched many individuals mutilate it through the years even after being given the proper pronunciation. I bear in mind one time watching him introduce himself to a person clearly and slowly—twice—and the person nonetheless known as him “Bob,” like he could not even digest this identify he’d by no means heard earlier than, a lot much less pronounce it.

As a child, originally of each college yr or each time a substitute instructor got here round, it was widespread for my husband to need to appropriate the pronunciation of his identify. Not the top of the world, however annoying. I can not think about how way more annoying it’s for folks with longer names that are not acquainted to many American ears.


A video of a instructor mispronouncing each pupil’s identify has gotten an enormous response on Reddit, presumably for the humor of it. The names she reads off the attendance record are ones which might be widespread sufficient within the U.S. that pronunciation usually would not be a difficulty—Luke, Jacob and Hunter, for instance. However she manages to bungle them anyway—sure, even Luke—and it’s genuinely humorous.

However saying Luke as “Luck” and Hunter as “Hoonter” did extra than simply give her college students a giggle. It additionally places each pupil on the identical taking part in area. If there have been college students in her class with much less widespread names that may simply be mispronounced, they now discover themselves in the identical footwear as all of their classmates. They not stand out as “the child with the identify the instructor did not know pronounce.”

If each child has to appropriate the instructor, then doing so isn’t any huge deal. Nobody is “othered” by it. It is only a humorous factor all of them do. And it additionally provides the instructor an opportunity to listen to every child’s identify from their very own mouth as an alternative of making an attempt to learn it off a listing with out ever listening to it.

The one threat right here is by accident saying an unfamiliar identify accurately the primary time, however that appears unlikely. And it truly would in all probability simply add one other layer of humor to the already gentle ambiance. As a result of a instructor mispronouncing a pupil’s identify can have an enduring influence, it is vital to do what we are able to to maintain it from occurring.

The factor about unfamiliar names is that they often aren’t as arduous to pronounce as folks make them out to be. They’re merely unfamiliar.

I imply, if we are able to pronounce Beethoven (which does not appear to be it sounds), Tchaikovsky (which has all these consonants) and Dostoyevsky (which has 4 syllables) with out even fascinated with it, we are able to study to pronounce any identify. In truth, Nigerian actress Uzo Aduba illustrated this precise level in a narrative about how her final identify all the time made her the primary child in roll name and she or he was involved that nobody knew pronounce her identify proper. Her mom reassured her, “If they’ll study to say Tchaikovsky and Michelangelo and Dostoyevsky, they’ll study to say Uzoamaka.”

It would take some observe, and we would need to ask folks’s forgiveness if it takes us some time, nevertheless it’s not not possible.

Some folks within the feedback on Reddit identified that the instructor’s roll name was an modern means of creating each pupil really feel equally welcomed within the classroom. However much more stated it reminded them of a hilarious Key & Peele skit a few hard-nosed substitute instructor mispronouncing college students’ names and getting offended after they corrected him.

A little bit of a language warning in case you will have little ones round, nevertheless it’s nice if you have not seen it. You will by no means see the identify “Blake” the identical means once more.

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