Pronunciation and Culture

Often times, people mispronounce my name. Phonetically it is (Aneesa) but spelled Anisa. You can probably guest the many ways in which people have pronounced it. I have noticed that when people grow up with “non-challenging” names, nicknames are given to individuals they come across with “challenging names.” I have also noticed that some people with “challenging names” more and more give themselves a nick name to make it easier for other people unfamiliar to their names to pronounce. I have been called Anis- a, Anees, Anisia, Lisa, and more. Some friends I have say it gets tiring to keep on correcting every single person you come across or people begin to think you are crazy when you hug them for pronouncing your name correctly on the first try. Have you ever worked with someone who consistently says your name wrong? In their world, you mean nothing to them. Those who have said names wrong, admit mistake and work harder to pronounce correctly. There is power in a name. If you do not know where your name is from or what it means, find out. It is interesting and boosts confidence. My mother passed when I was young so I did not learn what my name meant until I was older. My mother was also adopted and perhaps felt the importance of a name even moreso than others because she was called many names maybe outside of her birth name. I have met many people over the years who either change their names due to various reasons or have learned that they do not carry the name they were born with due to the adoption process and adoption parents wanting to change their names. Sometimes parental figures name their children after people they knew that were significant in their own lives. Others seek out names through searches and decide on who they would want their children to be (finding a meaning and matching the name to it). Whatever you decide, make that name powerful! Make people pronounce your name the way it should be pronounced unless you approve a nickname or substitute name. I worked at a university and saw many undergraduate students from international parents through coaching sessions. Many of them had very cultural names but wanted to be called an American name. America is a huge meeting pot with so many races, ethnicities, backgrounds, and unique names. I believe the only true Americans are Native Americans and that everyone has their own unique culture. Now whether individuals or families choose to be in-tuned with their cultures are their own personal choice(s). Do not deny that from them however. We all bring something unique to the table. The majority of us are all mixed up with several ethnicities and backgrounds through various generations. Nowadays, no one is full of any one race or background anymore. Let us embrace our uniqueness and if you choose not to, respect those that do. Call them by their name! Do not take that power from them! -AP


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Sharing personal stories through activism, advocacy, and passion in hopes to help people through my new journey as a Certified Grant Writer®, life coach, public speaker and author.

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