Pronunciation of someone’s name : Why is it important?

In Accent Reduction, Speakers by Thila Raja1 Comment

SBS presenter for World Cup 2018, Lucy Zelic, has copped online criticism in Australia, regarding her correct pronunciation of soccer players’ names.

As a female migrant , who is a Speech Pathologist, I was very intrigued by the online abuse  Lucy Zelic has been copping , alebit the wrong reasons.  I found it both amusing, and disappointing the people were  annoyed hearing names, being pronounced correctly.

Pronouncing someone’s name the way its meant to be said, shows genuine respect to the person, and their culture.

I am so extremely proud that Lucy is making the effort that the players deserve. She is an exemplar of respect, and a fine product of SBS, and what they stand for. Kudos to you lady!

In a multicultural society like Australia, people should start becoming more tolerant of different sounding names, and attempt to say them correctly. As Lucy reportedly said, we need to re-educate a difference audience.

I grew up in multicultural Singapore, and  everyone struggled to get my name right. Everytime names were read out in class, I would put up my hand straight away, so that I did not have to hear my name pronounced incorrectly, yet again.

I shortened my name from 3 syllables to 2 syllables in Australia, thinking that it would be easier to pronounce , but people STILL get it wrong. Now, I do not get upset with people when they mispronounce my name. I think it is perfectly ok to get someone’s name wrong, especially if they are from a different culture. What is upsetting ,is,the lack of effort that goes in trying to get the name right.

As World Cup co-host Craig Foster said, if you say someone’s name incorrectly, it shows that you just have not tried. It is as simple as that. The least we can do, is address someone correctly. If you are unsure how to go about doing it, here are 3 tips.

  • Ask them to break down their name for you, in smaller parts.
  • Ask them to say it slower, so that you can copy it slowly after them.
  • Apologize if you know you can’t say it like how it should be said.

That makes a world of difference. We don’t need everyone to say our names correctly, but we would appreciate it if someone tried, and failed. It shows they tried.

The next time you encounter a tricky name, remember those 3 tips.  Saying someone’s name the right way, goes a long way in making a great impression on them😊




  1. I totally agree with you Thila.
    It’s hard sometimes to get a name sounding correct. As a compere, the task can be quite (very) challenging.
    “Cukmakcholu’ was a mouthful for me. It’s Turkish. But I haven’t forgotten it.

    On a slightly humorous (for me) note, a few Chinese girls call me “Marry”. They leave me wondering if it’s a request for a husband. I am still happily single, having resisted all temptation.

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