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Say My Name

May 23, 2014

Dale Carnegie, famous author and developer of numerous self-improvement courses, wrote in his best-selling book, How to Win Friends and Influence People that “There is nothing sweeter than the sound of thine own name.” The names that we are given at birth are typically chosen with care by our parents.  Names are sometimes chosen based on a family or religious tradition, situations/circumstances that were going on during the pregnancy or birth of the child, names of pop icons or famous people, while other names seem to defy logic and seem to be based on the creative whim of the parents.   I do not know if that is true for everyone because if your parents gave you a creative name that caused you to be the butt of jokes during elementary school you may have a different opinion about the sound of your name. 


Regardless of whether you like your name or not, most of us want our names to be pronounced correctly.  Writer and researcher H. Edward Deluzain stated that we generally resent when our name is mispronounced because the mispronunciation amounts to a distortion of our identity.  He noted that accidental distortions are annoying, but mispronunciations and distortions of a name on purpose are sizable insults. 


National Public Radio (NPR) recently aired a segment about the challenges that school officials face when it is time to pronounce unique names during graduations ceremonies.  If you have ever graduated or attended a graduation, then you know the anticipation that builds as you wait for your name or the name of the graduate to be announced.  That is the moment that the graduate’s friends and family let out a loud, robust cheer – despite being asked to hold all applause until everyone’s name has been announced, so if the graduate’s name is not pronounced correctly, that can take away from that special moment.


While you may not have to announce names at a graduation, you still should strive to pronounce names correctly.  In fact, making sure that you pronounce the name of the CEO of your organization or the name of the person that is interviewing you for a job may be more important. One of the simplest things that you can do to ensure that you pronounce the name correctly is to ask the person how to pronounce his or her name and make a note of it.  If you cannot ask the person, here are four resources that can help you:  

  • Hearnames.com

  • Pronouncenames.com

  • Ingolo.com

  • TheNameEngine.com

These sites contain huge databases that you can search for names and pronunciations so that the next time that you have to pronounce a unique or unfamiliar name, you can stay calm and do it correctly.



By: Cassandra Griffin, Personal and Professional Communication Coach for Griffin Speech Consulting

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