Story time! I want to talk about names and pronunciation.

My first name's Elana. If you're not sure how to pronounce it, you can listen to me introduce myself on any number of recorded talks:

Growing up, I didn't think my name was that difficult to pronounce. People sometimes mispronounced it but it wasn't regular. I definitely remember wishing I had a "normal" name, whatever that means.

Then, I moved out of province to Ontario for university. And quickly discovered *no one* could pronounce my name.

I tried to correct them, but they never picked up on it. Apparently, outside of the small region where I was born, this name isn't pronounced this way. Every single spoken interaction was like nails on a chalkboard.

In my second semester, I was running for an executive election in a student club. For the first time since I started school, I had everyone's undivided attention.

I opened my platform speech with, "Hi, I'm Elana Hashman. It's pronounced 'Elana', so I'd like to take this opportunity to be *absolutely certain* you all know how to pronounce my name." I nearly lost this election as a result.

I was labeled "bitchy" and a "complainer". I got my frustration off my chest but I did myself no favours socially. And, crucially, no one actually changed anything. They all continued to say my name wrong, while making fun of me for the speech for months.

The kindest people stopped calling me by my first name and started calling me by my username, "ehashman", instead. Which often got shortened to ehash, a nickname I still go by to this day!

My takeaway was that asking people to pronounce my name correctly has a large social penalty and doesn't solve the problem in question. So, since then, I have never corrected someone saying my name aloud incorrectly.

I don't know why it's so difficult to extend others this courtesy. My name is an English name, so I'm not in nearly as difficult a position as those whose names aren't written with this alphabet. But I feel your pain.

To this day, my best friends can't pronounce my name. I haven't bothered with correcting people in years. Occasionally someone like @celeste_horgan from my neck of the woods will pronounce it right on the first try and I will be too shocked to process 😵

I don't hold it against my friends, but it's grating when strangers mispronounce my name. This is one of the reasons why I haven't signed my first name in years and primarily go by my handle in online spaces.

So, I guess the moral of this story is, if you're not a close friend, please don't call me by my first name, and if you're not sure how it's pronounced, call me "ehash" or "ehashman."

And to everyone else who also has to deal with constant name mispronunciation, my sympathies.

btw my superpower for learning how to pronounce people's names is looking up recordings of them speaking and watching them introduce themselves 👂

FWIW I really didn't mean this as a mass callout, it was just on my mind. If you're a mutual feel free to ask me if you like. And I'll try to be less avoidant of correcting people!


@ehashman as one living in a country where natives can't really pronounce my name even when they want to (due to different phonetics in Russian) I was never bothered by it. The way I see it, there is no such thing as a "correct" pronunciation. As long as I can recognize the fact that people try to address me, it's fine. I don't sound exactly American either.

· · Web · 0 · 0 · 0
Sign in to participate in the conversation

Server run by the main developers of the project 🐘 It is not focused on any particular niche interest - everyone is welcome as long as you follow our code of conduct!