How to correct someone mispronouncing your name
Check out my byline.
Tricky name, right? It’s Irish. It’s got an accent (known as a
fada). To further complicate matters, it also looks like it
rhymes with my last name (it’s actually pronounced “ahn-yah”).
I love my name. It keeps things interesting.
At this point, I’ll pretty much respond to anything (almost
everyone in my life purposely mispronounces my name as a
nickname). During any sort of roll call or introduction, I find
myself preparing to blurt out a correction and an explanation. I
pause before telling baristas my name, as I silently contemplate
giving an easier-to-pronounce alias (which probably just makes me
look sketchy or amnesiac).
Basically, I don’t really care when people occasionally
mispronounce my name. It comes with the territory.
That being said, making sure that people are getting your name
right can be a big deal.
As PBS reported, name mispronunciation in the classroom can
negatively affect students, especially those who are ESL or the
children of immigrants.
Plus, it’s annoying.
That’s why Business Insider spoke with national etiquette expert
Diane Gottsman to get
some insight on how to correct accidental name-manglers.
“It’s important to politely set it straight from the beginning so
you don’t have to have an increasingly awkward conversation down
the line,” Gottsman says. “Simply be honest and inform them of
the correct version of your name the first time you hear them say
Unsurprisingly, directness is your best bet.
Gottsman even broke down what a potential correction could look
Person 1: “It’s great to meet you,
Person 2: “Thank you so much. Actually, my
name is Julie with an ‘e.’ People confuse it all the time! It’s
so nice meeting you as well!”
Person 1: “Oh sorry about
Person 2: “No worries at all! I knew you
would want to know.”
However, what if you failed to nip things in the bud? Years ago,
one of my bosses accidentally mispronounced my name for quite
some time. Let me be clear: This was not that person’s fault. I
had failed to correct them in the beginning, and then things
snowballed. Also, I didn’t really care. It was a minor mistake,
as far as mispronunciations go. They said my name like it rhymed
a certain rapper who had just released a critically acclaimed
album, which I thought was pretty funny.
So, how could I have remedied that situation?
Well, Gottsman notes that I could have simply told them a story
or left them a voicemail where I referred to myself in the third
I could have gone with something like:
“And my friend said to me, ‘Áine, I can’t believe you fled into
the woods without saying goodbye to anyone at the party!'”
Alternatively, you can definitely go ahead and be more direct
“If the first opportunity to correct someone is long-gone,
telling them privately, without embarrassing them is the most
comfortable way to explain the name faux pas,” Gottsman told
Business Insider. “At all costs, avoid coming off as frustrated
or annoyed — the situation is already uncomfortable and adding
emotion makes it more prickly.”