(Closed) Microaggressions -what do you do when people insist on mispronouncing your name?

posted 8 years ago in Names
Post # 32
Hostess
11163 posts
Sugar Beekeeper

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@Trixxie_90:  That happens to my friend all the time…now she just uses my name when we are together.

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@VegasSukie:  I don’t think people in general are purposely mispronouncing names but I do think it is a tad lazy to not bother trying to learn it correctly.

For me I am constantly referred to as Mr. by international customers (nostly Middle Eastern) that I only deal with via email. Apparently it is too much to assume a woman would actually do what I do. I have to put Mrs. on several emails before they even bother taking a notice.

 

Post # 34
Member
133 posts
Blushing bee
  • Wedding: October 2014

I had a student named Ahmina my first year teaching. My brain wanted to pronounce it ‘ah-MIN-ah,’ but that wasn’t right–I knew it, and it kept tumbling out of my mouth anyway. I couldn’t figure out why, but I suspected it had something to do with being a visual learner: I saw Ahmina’s name written on my class lists, lesson plans, assignments, etc. so often without hearing the correct pronunciation to go along with it. It wasn’t until a colleague told me she remembered by thinking of “amino acids” that the correct pronunciation of “AH-meen-ah” stuck.

 

I completely believe these kinds of microaggressions exist, and you may be experiencing one from your “friends.” But, I truly loved my student. It may be that your friends care about you, but see your name in their phones, on Facebook, etc. more often than they hear it. Totally call them out on it explicitely: “Hey, my name is pronounced ____, like [a good way to remember it]. I know old habits die hard, but it would mean a lot to me if you made an effort.” If you deliver this in an even tone–no sass or “I’m so sorry; I know this is a hassle,” just very matter-of-factly–they won’t have anything but your words to hear. And then leave it there, simple as that. They’ll get flustered and apologize, which you can accept breezily before  changing the subject. If they ARE your friends and just stuck on a bad habit, the directness coupled with the mnemonic should do the trick. If they’re just an asses, I’d find excuses to be busy on the nights they invite you out. 

 

ETA: Just saw your update that the female half of the couple has laughed off being corrected. It might be worth pulling her aside one more time, but I also think you have every right to stop socializing with them. Your DH can tell them the truth about why you don’t come around anymore.

Post # 35
Member
700 posts
Busy bee
  • Wedding: June 2012

I guess I’ve gotten to the point where I don’t care about it, when it comes to people I don’t really care about. I work a job where I have to answer the main phone line, “Thank you for calling (company). This is (me). How can I help you?” and people call me the wrong thing on the phone ALL the time – Jill, Danielle, Jess, Jen, Janet, Jenny, Michelle, etc. My boss even doesn’t know my name. He kept mispronouncing it, and since several people in my dept had started calling me “J”, I said “Boss, just call me J.” The next day, over the page system, I heard “G, call me at 203. G, call 203.” I knew he meant me. He also calls me Jen, and has gone so far as to send customers to my desk that said, “We’re supposed to be looking for Jennifer. Is that you?” I knew the boss had sent them, and explained his confusion.

If it was ‘friends’, or DH’s friends, or anyone I had to deal with on a daily basis, I would make a point to correct them every time they said it wrong. Otherwise – I work 20 hrs/wk, so this boss isn’t someone I deal with much – I would let it go.

Post # 36
Member
180 posts
Blushing bee

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@VegasSukie:  Oh I didn’t pick an “Americanized” name. I took the syllables of my name, picked one that made a whole word (I had 3 choices but instantly vetoed two) and came up with one that resembled a common household object. People give me weird looks when I say my name is ____ but they dang sure have no excuse in not being able to say it properly.

My family gave me similar grief – but being African American and having a name that’s more fiction than cultural, I laughed most of their objections off. I love my name. I love myself. Random people are just not worthy of the time and effort it took to try and have them appreciate the gift of my true name, so they do not get to call me that. I’m just not the type of person to let other people dictate anything about me, not what they call me and certainly not how I feel about my name or myself.

Once my family realized I wasn’t tossing my real name out, just adding another layer of exclusivity to it they got on board and again as I said, no one dictates how I feel about myself to me. Not even my family.

Post # 38
Member
558 posts
Busy bee
  • Wedding: October 2014

@VegasSukie:  You aren’t being overly sensitive.  I have a difficult to pronounce last name that no-one gets right except people in my community.  I will be marrying into a Russian surname that’s easier, but still freaks people out (holy shit, there’s a V in it!).  For me, it’s a litmus test.  If people around me can’t learn how to say my name, and I’m not obligated by my job or other unshakable commitment to be around them, they don’t stay in my life very long.  People can learn how to say your name.  And anyone who refuses to do so is not respecting you as a person.  There is a big functional difference between “trying and messes up occasionally,” and “not giving a rat’s ass,” and you can always tell the difference.  Intent isn’t magical, but it sure as hell makes a difference in these situations.  OP, if your husband’s friends can’t treat you with a modicum of respect and learn how to say your name, I wouldn’t blame you for distancing yourself from them.

Post # 39
Member
2597 posts
Sugar bee
  • Wedding: October 2010

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@VegasSukie:  Yeah, I can see why you would think that.  Intentionally or not, she’s being very rude to you and yes, maybe even passive aggressive.

So, I’m going to suggest again you confront her directly and just straight out tell her that her refusal to learn your name has reached the point where you find it insulting and demeaning.  Friends make the effort to learn how to pronouce their friend’s names so her refusal to extend you that small courtesy and minimal respect both hurtful and telling.  If she brushes you off, calmly get up and leave.  Seriously. 

It will be awkward but I think that’s agood.  She should feel awkward.  If she’s a damn doctor she can certainly learn how to say your name. 

Confront her once.  If she doesn’t come correct, tell your husband he can socialize with them on his own until she does.

Post # 40
Member
180 posts
Blushing bee

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@VegasSukie:  ThanksLaughing I try my best to take the things that are designed to tear me down and exhaust me, into sources of strength instead. It’s so much more satisfying and really saves on the therapy Wink

Post # 41
Member
2368 posts
Buzzing bee
  • Wedding: January 2013

@VegasSukie:  haha this reminded me of the movie Mean girls and her name is Cady (pronounced Caidey) and her goth friend calls her Caddy haha, but i dont think your making a big deal of it, i find it super rude too. not so much when people you just met get it wrong but people you have known for ages get it wrong its just plain rude. my hubbys grandad STILL sometimes calls me Emily. My name is Amelia. I dont correct him anymore. but when people are around its awkward as. i just try laugh it off. Lots of people get my name wrong. mispronounce it, “how do you spell that?” get called Emily all the time, its annoying as.

 

Post # 42
Member
519 posts
Busy bee
  • Wedding: October 2012

My name is Kailyn. I get Katelynn all the time. Or Kate. I wrote a very passionate essay about why it is offensive that people can’t take two seconds to remember how to say my name correctly. It IS dehumanizing. It’s says you’re not important enough to remember. I can understand people spelling it wrong (I am a terrible speller and I would totally spell my name K-A-Y-L-I-N if I could) but when I clearly say my name is Kailyn, and follow up with “Like Katelynn but without the T” it really erks me when people still get it wrong. My brothers best friend has known me since we were in elementary school and he still calls me Katelynn. UGH!

Post # 43
Member
10635 posts
Sugar Beekeeper
  • Wedding: January 2011

Not to say that this is the situation, but some people just suck at pronouncing names.  I am one of these people.  I get it eventually, if the person sticks around long enough, but it takes much longer than normal for some reason.

Post # 44
Member
122 posts
Blushing bee
  • Wedding: September 2013

I think to me the issue would be if she’s calling you the wrong name or mispronouncing your name. I think there’s a difference.

 

I have a foreign name that sounds exactly how it is spelled, but it is very, very uncommon and people mispronounce it constantly. I have family members who still to this day mispronounce my name. My grandmother, for example, never in my life called me by the correct pronunciation of my name. She always butchered it. Always. As does both my uncles.

 

To me, I don’t find it offensive. I guess because I grew up with it always being mispronounced and I get that it isn’t easy for people to remember (even relatives apparently!) that it’s pronunced like ___ not like ___. 

 

I’d give her a break if you think she is just genuinely mispronouncing it. 

 

Post # 45
Member
2055 posts
Buzzing bee

@VegasSukie: Warning: novel ahead (scroll down for the tl;dr version)

Concerning your specific issue: call the individual out. As other PPs have stated, politely and directly let them know that they can either take the time to pronounce your name correctly or kindly GTFO. Honestly, I would ignore the PPs who are telling you to suck it up/let it go because it sounds as if this is something that (understandably) bothers you. I firmly believe that if you do not actually communicate your feelings to someone, you cannot expect them to know where you stand (and in turn, cannot complain about the problem if no attempt has been made to let them know how you feel). 

I have an ethnic surname, and even though it’s only 4 letters (pronounced phonetically), people mispronounce/misspell it at every turn. I don’t ever get offended because I dealt with it all of my life, and sometimes people honestly have trouble with it. HOWEVER, I do expect my friends/frequent acquaintances/colleagues to take the time to learn my name*, esp. since I will give them due respect to learn theirs. 

I know people who have the worst time remembering names, but even though I like them, I honestly believe it’s because they truly can’t be bothered to learn anyone’s name (otherwise, if your memeory was truly that bad, how do you work? how do you remember other necessary information?). It may not be a racial/discrimination issue, but it’s still one that needs to be checked since you are feeling undermined and disrespected by their actions.

*I also have 4 middles name (two ethnic/cultural and two ~Americanized~). I never expect anyone outside of my family to pronounce the former properly, but many of my friends continue to try. I think it’s sweet. 😀

Concerning the issue of microaggressions: This is concept I learned about a couple of years ago, and I find that it’s a very common, yet seldom-acknowledged, issue. In layman’s terms:

It’s those times when someone says or does something that rubs you the wrong way but doesn’t quite seem ___ist enough for you to call them out on it (because if you do, then you often will get the “you’re just being oversensitive, too PC, etc.” response).

It’s the reason why I tend to steer clear of “ugliest/worst/craziest” name threads (not only on this forum). The most common names mentioned are typically ethnic/cultural names. And then of course some idiot must pay homage to the quintessential apocryphal interwebz stories about “L-a” (pronounce the “dash”) and “Oranjello and Lemonjello”…not realizing the deeper social, racial, and anthropological implications for why such urban legends are believed and why certain names are mocked. 

 

TL;DR: Speak to the offending party (whether privately or during the next offense) about the continuous mispronunciation. You are not being overly sensitive, but you cannot expect someone to stop hurting your feelings if they do not know they are doing so in the first place.

Post # 46
Member
199 posts
Blushing bee

All the african americans at my job cant pronounce carolyn, i correct them all the time but I dont jump to racism. It really is no biggie and would just move on and make friends that can pronounce your name.

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