What’s in a Name?


It seems like every corner we turn there is a new micro aggression being committed or a new act of inequity that is being brought to our attention. I strongly believe this is a good thing as we learn more and strive for a more equitable society. Issues will come up and need to be addressed.

One issue that weighs on me often is the idea of names and honoring students names. There are many articles that discuss the importance of learning to pronounce names correctly. Here are just a few: Prouncing Names,  Lasting impacts of names, Facebook can help with pronunciation, Gift of pronunciation.

I have a personal stake in this discussion too as my name is often mispronounced. My name is Tara (Tear-a) I often get called TAR-A.  I have shrugged it off most of my life because I personally don’t believe people were mispronouncing my name to hurt me, but they know someone who pronounces the other way or have only Tara pronounced TAR-A. Although I am now learning there are a lot of heated feelings when it come to the pronunciation of Tara.

The most distraught I have ever been over name pronunciation was this past summer when I was teaching in China. I was teaching a total of four weeks, two sessions a day in two week sessions. I had 30-35 students in each session. The students were told to pick “English” names to place on their nametags along with their names written in Pinyin (the spelling of chinese words with English Letters). This was a very difficult situation for me. I wanted to honor students by using their names, but there were 70 students a day that I needed to learn names for that were in a language completely foreign to me. In addition,I was only going to be working with them for a total of ten days.

I ended up using the English names but left with upset feelings and the knowledge that I owed these students an apology for not learning their names. View this as my apology to the many students I worked with this past summer. If I go back I will do better in learning my students true names.

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