OPINION: Take time to learn someone’s name


Take a moment to look at my byline. Now try and pronounce my name. I’m going to take a hunch and say that only two out of five readers got it right. I’m basing this assumption on my 19 years of life and only two of five teachers every semester who would get it right. 

Now I’m not complaining about my name or the fact that it has a misleading pronunciation. But what it has taught me from personal experience is that taking the time to learn people’s names is important and something we should take the time to do. 

Recently at a Student Government Association town hall, Margarita Baez came as a CAPS representative, and stressed the importance of learning each other’s names. 

“Saying a student’s name correctly is very important,” Baez said.  “And so I think that’s something as we have conversations, like the proper pronunciation, I know that might seem very minimal and it’s very low hanging fruit, but it makes a significant difference.  Oftentimes we think of culture and heritage. Saying someone’s name, there’s a lot of thought, there’s family  history to it.” 

As Baez said, someone’s name can tie back to many things for a person such as heritage and culture. Personally, my name has no significant sort of meaning. But for someone else, their name may have cultural or heritage ties to their names that they take great pride in. If we take the initiative to show our consideration for others and their culture and heritage – then we’re working one step closer to inclusion.

The same concept should apply for Transgender and other LGBTQ+ community members who choose to change their name. It is a difficult thing to change a name and hope that those who know you will respect and call you by it.  

If someone you know transitions or changes their name, it can be difficult to replace that if you knew them by something different, but make sure you are working to fix that in your mind and respect their change. 

It is a small thing that we as people let slide. If  we see the person more than once we usually have to learn their name. However, we should be learning names and how to say them properly. 

 It doesn’t matter if it’s long, if it is difficult to say, if it isn’t your language, if it isn’t the name they had when you first met them or if they say it’s OK to not know it. Learn it, say it, don’t trust Google and be there for those with difficult or different names.