People in almost every ethnic group have had to deal with others struggling to get their names right. And the problem seems to persist no matter how strong a person becomes or appears.
Despite the fact that Pichai runs one of the world’s most powerful companies and he testified on Capitol Hill before, the senators seem unable to pronounce his name correctly – calling instead he is the variations of “Mr. Pick Eye” and Mr. Pish Eye. “(It is pronounced” pih-chai “, like the spiced drink.)
(Harris has served in the US Senate for almost four years and pronounces her name “COMMA-la”, like punctuation.)
Ultimately, the expert says, it’s only about power and respect.
The name is often associated with race
The encounter with unfamiliar sounding names is inevitable in a multicultural country like the United States, and it’s common to stumble a few times at first.
Megha Sundara, a professor of linguistics at the University of California, Los Angeles, says non-English names often use stress patterns or sounds that are not used in English and that memorization of those strings does. can be a challenge.
The problem, however, is not unintentional mistakes, but how people recover from them.
“You can ease your embarrassment or apologize and fix it,” Sundara wrote in an email to CNN. “Because ‘say my name’ is probably the most basic way for us to ask others to admit our existence.”
So when someone doesn’t take the time to learn the proper pronunciation of someone else’s name – or worse, deliberately mocking that name as “too hard” to pronounce – that could be viewed as malicious. .
Rita Kohli, an associate professor of education at the University of California, Riverside, said it also recalled the nation’s history of ruling groups forcing people from oppressed groups, such as Africans being arrested. slaves and indigenous children in government schools.
“There is a long history of forced assimilation in this country as a way to maintain the power structure,” she wrote in an email to CNN. “To ensure that White Anglo Saxon, English, Protestants still dominate, unsuitable people were asked to change things like their language, their names. It created a culture where rulers were ruling. not engage in reciprocal learning. “
Kohli added that the ruling groups removed some names because it was too difficult to obtain the right to be associated with racism and other forms of oppression.
According to Kohli, Perdue’s mocking of his senator’s name “disrespect and disrespect a black and black vice presidential candidate”. (Perdue’s campaign spokesperson said that he just mispronounced the name and made no sense about it.)
“One thing is for sure, if you’ve known someone for a long time, but still misrepresent their name, guess who has the power in that relationship?” Sundara added. “It’s not someone who can’t fix you and don’t make it stick.”
Some of the immigrant’s children have adjusted their names to make them ‘easier’
Letting others keep messing with your names can be so exhausting that some people with non-English names decide to adjust or change them.
One way is to adopt the Anglicized pronunciation.
For example, many South Asians pronounce Kamala, a common Indian name, as “come-lah” or “come-uh-lah.”
Others, like Mindy Kaling, shortened their names.
“It’s bittersweet, but I have to say having a name that people can pronounce has helped a lot in my career,” she said in the interview.
And then there are some who choose to use a completely different name, like former Louisiana governor Bobby Jindal.
But some are pushing back
But many people of color are no longer willing to adapt to the dominant white culture at the cost of their own heritage.
Last year, comedian Hasan Minhaj appeared on Ellen DeGeneres’ show and refused to continue on a segment until the TV host pronounced his name correctly.
“When I first started acting in a comedy, people used to say, ‘You should change your name,’ he said on the show.” I was like, ‘I won’t change my name. If you can pronounce Ansel Elgort, you can pronounce Hasan Minhaj. ‘”
Harris also insists that people give her the right name, linking her experience with what so many others go through.