The Union St. Journal: Cherry Creek High School's official news source

Union St. Journal

The Union St. Journal: Cherry Creek High School's official news source

Union St. Journal

The Union St. Journal: Cherry Creek High School's official news source

Union St. Journal

Put Some Respect on My Name: Students With Unique Names Want Better Pronunciation

Jonathan Lee
An assortment of name tags are scattered on a table, highlighting “Yifan Xu,” Chief Artist Angela Xu’s given name. Students with unique names feel that peers don’t put enough effort into pronouncing them correctly.

Names form identities, but for some students, the first thing on their mind when entering a new classroom is making sure everyone knows how to pronounce theirs. 

“Other people find it very awkward and scary because they may be introverted,” junior Yashaswini Divvi said. “I just feel normal and sometimes a little annoyed.”

Even when leaving an old classroom, some students still find that others just can’t seem to get their name right. 

“It was the end of the year, literally the last day [of that class], and we were just having fun and celebrating finishing the class and the AP test, and this one student said my name for the first time and said the completely wrong name,” senior Mahalet Bereket said. “I don’t think it’s annoying to have a more difficult name, I just think it’s annoying when people don’t make the effort to learn my name.” 

The feeling of getting misnamed is disheartening to anybody. Whether it be from kids or adults, a mispronounced name can feel like a personal attack on their identity.

“I think that kids feel like they’re not seen if you don’t get their name right,” psychology teacher Ganelle Smith said. “I see kids’ feelings get hurt when I mess up their name, and I hate that. It seems like it’s something that I should work really hard at because a kid shouldn’t feel like that in my room.”

Teachers like Smith emphasize how important it is to get their students’ names correct, but others don’t seem to follow the same practice.

“I’ve had multiple teachers, at Creek and during elementary [and] middle school, who only asked me how to say my name on the first day and then say it wrong the rest of the year or semester,” Bereket said. 

Even though getting names wrong can hurt a student’s feelings, different accents can make names harder to pronounce. 

“It’s not that people can’t learn languages,” Smith said. “They can. [But] it’s really hard for them to get rid of their accents because those accents are early neural pathways formed as they’re learning languages as little children.”

Even though teachers may still get a student’s name wrong, students still appreciate the genuine effort. 

“Teachers will, and always will, say it wrong and sometimes say the first part of the name in hopes that I would finish for them,” Divvi said. “Some teachers will never get it right even if they want to and it’s not their fault.”

At the end of the day, names are a part of a student’s identity, even if it’s hard for others to say.

“I love that it’s a reflection of who I am, and I think it’s great to have a more unique name,” Bereket said.

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About the Contributors
Jonathan Lee
Jonathan Lee, Assistant Video Editor
Howdy! My name’s Jonathan Lee and I am a senior. This is my second year in the Union Street Journal, and my first year as Assistant Video Editor. I’ve always enjoyed writing, but also love to create videos that I and others find enjoyment in.
Angela Xu
Angela Xu, Chief Artist
Hello! I’m Angela and I’m a senior at Creek. I am the Chief Artist for the USJ, which allows me to create different works or art for the newspaper. The USJ journey has led me through many trials and tribulations, but it’s been an experience I’ll think back to fondly in the future.

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