The Importance of Saying Someone’s Name Properly

Do you know what it is like to have someone mispronounce your name?
If you grew up with a name that was hard to say or was pronounced differently from how it appeared in writing, you probably have experienced many instances where your name was said incorrectly.
How does being addressed properly affect us and do these sort of things really matter?
Share your stories in today’s VOX Daily.

Your Name Has Significance

The name you were given at birth has great significance. Your parents chose it for you, you grew up being called by your name and because you respond to your name when called upon, the way your name is said has an impact on you.
If you’re like me, your name may have been common enough that instances of being called something other than your proper name were few and far between. I, Stephanie, can remember being called Stephan (or Stephen) once or twice by supply teachers because the attendance lists they were reading off of were truncated. Even though it was an honest mistake, it wasn’t my name and it didn’t feel good to be called by a boy’s name and have the class laugh.

Ever since then, I’ve made a point to always call people by their proper names, and if I don’t know how to say their name, I ask them how to say it so that I don’t mess it up. A person’s name is so important and when you say it properly, you afford that person the dignity they rightfully deserve; to have their name, something of great meaning, said in a way that honors them.

Perhaps I am just very particular or maybe its because I know how it feels and wish to save someone else the embarrassment. Either way, when you cradle someone’s name on your lips, you need to be careful.
Think about this as a voice actor. You say the names of people and companies in many of the scripts you read. Attention to detail of this sort matters more than mere words can express.

4 Ways People Respond To The Wrong Name

Over the years, I have seen three different ways that people respond to their names being said incorrectly.
1. They gently correct the person saying their name.
2. They dismiss it altogether and don’t point the error out.
3. They say that it doesn’t matter what you call them, so long as it is close.
4. They supply you with an alternative that is easier to say.

My Name Is Hyunbin

One gentleman I met at a conference came from an Asian background. As he handed his business card to me, he said his name and then quickly offered that I could call him something else, an easier English name that most of his friends identify him by. I told him, No, you keep saying your name until I’ve got it! I want to call you by your name because names are very important.
I learned how to say his name by breaking it down in syllables and the aid of some rhyming words to get the vowels right. When I had finally got it, he was so pleased! From what I could see, my willingness to call him by his name and not compromise on recognizing who he was meant a lot to him.

What About You?

Have you struggled with people saying your name incorrectly? What have you done to help others say your name?
Looking forward to hearing from you!
Best wishes,

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  • Avatar for Howard Ellison
    Howard Ellison
    July 25, 2012, 9:28 am

    The guy introduced himself as Morrish. Uncertain, I checked: ‘Morrish?’ Yesh, he said.

  • Avatar for Mariana
    July 25, 2012, 12:25 pm

    My full name is hispanic, and that is how I pronounce it. I rarely use it, however, preferring my nickname of Anna, which is pronounced with a long A. For some reason, people never seem to remember it the first time. If some one knows me by my full name first then they invariably mispronounce my nickname! I always correct them, and use the story of how I was named after my grandmother to help them remember. We are both named Mariana, but she goes by Mary, and I go by Anna.

  • Avatar for Sanjo Ogunseye
    Sanjo Ogunseye
    July 25, 2012, 6:16 pm

    I have known how it feels for ones name to be mispronounced all my life, but I understand. I am African and we use words differently, we are more expressive which can be too much for people with different backgrounds. Some names are popular thus, people have some mastery over how it is pronounced.
    I just correct you if you seem interested or spare you if you’re not. Like Stephanie said, I also have found that I want to pronounce peoples names appropriately.

  • Avatar for Laurynda Pasma
    Laurynda Pasma
    August 3, 2012, 3:03 pm

    Over the years I’ve found that my name is not so common and have often encountered people who were unable to pronounce my name upon reading it.
    I’ve found that as I’ve gotten older, the way people approach a unique name is certainly different. As a child, other children often didn’t bother to even try to say my name, I ended up with shortened nicknames like “Lola” or “Rina”. As I grew into a teenager I found that I became slightly irritated with those who wouldn’t even bother to try to pronounce my name or ask me to repeat myself. As an adult and having worked in customer service for a number of years, everything changed. I found myself having to repeat my name several times (often because people wanted to say it right) and congratulating those who managed to get it right on the first try (these people were often just as excited as I was!).
    I’ve often provided explanation on the origin (normally because I’ve been asked) and that has often helped ~ it’s a combination of my Aunt and Mother’s name – Laurie and Linda. Just change the I to a Y.

  • Avatar for mmutlanyane
    April 13, 2015, 9:44 am

    when i grew up i preferred to be called by my second name(Ashley) since its English and more commonly easier to pronounce but in the last few years of my teen ages i longed and wished people to call me by my African name as i believe it has a colossal meaning attached to it so in most cases in acquaintances being asking my for my name i would use my African name(mmutlanyana),usually their response would be “don’t you have a second name or something?”.it would get annoying at some aspects.and that made me think that i’m just counting the stars so i buried the hatchet and continued with Ashley to which i would say i’m more described by the public than myself.young people(that i met) aren’t really keen on sitting for details behind the name