Hot take: Mispronouncing unconventional names ‘has a long and racist history’

Thank goodness for public radio, huh? We’ll just kick off this post inspired by KUOW the same way they kick it off: with a question. “Keya Roy is used to people mispronouncing her name. She usually brushes it off, but should she?”
Turns out mispronouncing names is a racist practice with a long and racist history. Plus it’s racist.
You know when you’re standing in line at a coffee shop, trying to figure out what to order? Your mind races. How much caffeine can I handle today? Should I get that overpriced bagel?
Many people with “unconventional” names experience a different kind of anxiety in this moment: figuring out what “safe” and “easy” name they should use that day.
Having a name butchered happens beyond coffee shops. This same anxiety peeks its head in the workplace, the classroom and many other aspects of life.
Spoiler: This practice of mispronouncing names isn’t just embarrassing. It has a long and racist history.
What are we talking about here, exactly? People with conventional names from other cultures, or parents who decided to give their children deliberately unpronounceable names? We’d have to listen, and we’re just not up to it.
Everyone who speaks English mispronounces my name. They say like it's faTIma when it's actually pronounced FAtima, stressing the first part of my name. Lol not in my life I have considered that racist or offensive. What's got into people? 😂😂😂

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This is a sign that things are getting better. These people have obviously exhausted their list of legitimate gripes. Yay for progress!

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There was a time that racism in America meant that black people couldn’t get a good job or vote. Racism meant black people were murdered or their churches were bombed.
Now it’s mispronouncing a name!
The horrors!
Obviously we haven’t made any progress. :)

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If I had a nickel for every time someone mispronounced my name, I’d have a private jet on 24-hour standby. 🤣 My mom is Italian American, and she wanted me to have an Italian name. I don’t think she ever anticipated the millions of variations of my name people have come up with.

See Marisa ✝️💑👨‍👩‍👧‍👦🎻's other Tweets
People mispronounce my name everyday. I never thought of them as racist. That would be insane.

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My name is very traditional, yet when ordering anywhere, I use “Emily” because it is easier on everyone. Stop making everything racist and victimization. Many people have a hard enough time speaking/spelling in their own language. Everything is not all about you.

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Go jump in a lake. Virtually no-one has pronounced my name correctly, and it isn't some arrogantly concocted confection.

I simply accept that it's novel and can't expect every stranger I meet to be a mind reader. I don't take that "don't they know who I am" tone of yours'

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Im so sorry youve had to endure so much racial hatred towards you. Its disgusting and no one should have to put up with that.

You deserve the basic decency of having your name pronounced perfectly by everyone immediately upon hearing it, no matter how different it is.

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Oh please. What is ‘racist’ about the mispronunciation of a name? I guess if someone doesn’t pronounce my name with the Spanish pronunciation my mother intended, that’s racist?

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Oh God. I have an odd name and have lived with people mispronouncing it my entire life. I am white. WHO DO I BLAME?

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What tf is wrong with you people? How in the world is it “racist” to mispronounce a name, particularly one that you may not be familiar with?

You guys really need to seek out some therapy because your own mental illness issues are tearing this country apart.

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Rita, this is a serious problem in name is prounounced scott not see what i go through living in surounded by racists...

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The US is a melting pot with people from all over the world living here. I often encounter people with names that I'm not familiar with. It makes the world more interesting and misprounciation has always occured. Being offended about it is a selfish act.

39 people are talking about this
Couldn’t agree more.

No one except Italians or the Spanish have ever pronounced my name correctly, even after I correct them.

Literally because of their RACISM!

Literally disgusting.

Literally offensive.

Literally literally

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And here we have more self-obsessed people desperate to make out they are victims of some sort of -ism, thus totally diluting the concept and taking away from genuine victims

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Oh. My. Gosh. Are we really going to say it’s racist that people can’t pronounce names? I’ve never once taken it personally that anyone mispronounced my first or last name. It happens. Daily. I do it. You do it. It’s part of being unique. Come on.

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Oh shove it. My last name gets mispronounced a good seven times out of ten. At the very worst it’s a minor annoyance, and at best a dead giveaway that I’m talking to a telemarketer.

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If people don’t know how to pronounce your name it’s because 1. They have never heard it before and 2. We automatically pronounce words based of our mother tongue. You can only learn a name if given an opportunity to. You are not entitled to have your name known by the world

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Normal person asking normal question about name you've never encountered: hey is your name pronounced X?

Y: no, it's pronounced Y

First normal person: ok cool thanks Y


Normal person: hey is your name pronounced X

Internet weirdos: RACIST!!!!!!!

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Actual quote from this segment: “My name is a part of my identity, and to allow someone to say it wrong is stripping me of that.”

Good lord (And I say this as someone who has him name mispronounced several times a week).

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I definitely get up every morning thinking about how I can mispronounce people’s names in order to better establish my dominance. It has nothing to do with my poor reading or language skills.

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I wish my day to day problems were as minuscule as these. Having your name mispronounced is the stuff first graders worry about. 🤭

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Oh, and yes, Keya should brush it off.
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