I’m Tired Of People Not Making An Effort To Get My ‘Difficult’ Name Right

Shahed Ezaydi
Courtesy of the author

I’ve always envied those who have names that people pronounce with ease and confidence; a name that doesn’t cause people to ask for repeats or to say “sorry, I didn’t quite catch that”. Instead, I have what is deemed (by Western society) a ‘difficult’ name, one that’s brought me great difficulty in simply getting people to pronounce it correctly.

My name is of Arabic origin, though it’s not a common one. On top of that, it’s not pronounced (in English) how it is spelled. And if there is something I have found when it comes to names, it’s that if a name isn’t pronounced how it is literally spelled, people struggle with the pronunciation. So no, I haven’t exactly been set up with an easy task.

My issue is not with those who mispronounce my name – I’ve come to expect that now and it isn’t like I don’t also mispronounce names. No, my issue is with people who don’t even make the effort to get my name right after being told the correct way to say it. Or worse, those who go one step further and decide that instead of learning to pronounce my name properly, they will instead rename me to something easier – usually an ‘English’ name.

I have had to battle to get my name pronounced properly all my life, with some luck but a lot more defeats along the way. Some of the major defeats came in my teenage years, where life is awkward enough as it is without being publicly embarrassed by teachers and students butchering your name daily. I heard pretty much every kind of variation of my name, and with some people (especially teachers), no matter how hard I tried, they would never get my name right. Even those that knew or taught me for years. I will never know if it was ignorance, maliciousness, or simply teachers having to remember a lot of students and their names.

It got to the point where I used to wish I had an English name. Maybe then I wouldn’t feel so different...

A name being mispronounced may seem like a small thing, but when that...

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