Hello-my-name-is

Can people pronounce your foreign name?

Many foreign-born students, even a lot of U.S. natives, have names that are difficult for native speakers of English to pronounce.  People have different approaches as to how to deal with others inability to say their name correctly.  Some individuals choose a new “American name,” some tolerate mus-pronunciations or an ‘Americanized’ version, and others insist on teaching others how to say their name correctly.

Here is an interesting article about research conducted by business professors of three major universities about how the pronunciation of your name might affect your professional success.  According to the results of the research, if your name is easy to pronounce your are more likely to get ahead in the business world.  Adam L. Alter, professor of marketing from New York University said, “People tend to feel more positive about things that are easy to process mentally, and with work colleagues that mean better relationships.”

You can read the article here.

Here are some of my thoughts on the issue:

  • Your name may contain sounds that do not exist in English.  Is there a similar sound you can substitute it for?
  • If you do decide to use your original name are you prepared for regular questions and comments such as “What does your name mean?” “What country are you from?” You might also have to listen to people tell stories about other people they know with foreign names.
  • Subconsciously, people might perceive you to have a stronger accent or speak English with more difficulties than you do as a result of your foreign sounding name
  • If your job requires you to regularly interact with new people using your original name might be more difficult.  However, if your job only requires you to interact with a few people it might be fairly easy to teach those limited number of people how to pronounce your name correctly.

What are your opinions on this topic?  What are your personal experiences?