I Almost Never Had My Name Mispronounced Until Now

I Almost Never Had My Name Mispronounced...Until I Studied Abroad

Apparently I'm not the center of the world--and neither is the U.S. That's a good thing.


When my parents named me Zachary, they did so because it wasn't a very common name back when I was born. Apparently, lots of other new parents at the same time had that same idea, because now my name is very common. A benefit of this is that I've never had to go through someone mispronouncing my name.

Actually, that's an overstatement. I did have it mispronounced once or twice: by a substitute teacher in high school, who was, I believe, from Bulgaria. This is small potatoes, however, next to what was the norm for many of my classmates. My hometown (Quincy, Massachusetts) has historically been demographically very white. This has changed over the past generation or so with a tremendous amount of immigration, much of it from eastern Asia; thus Quincy now has a lot of people my age whose parents were born abroad. I attended Quincy public schools from first grade to twelfth, and one constant was that, while most of the teachers and administrators were not from recent immigrant populations, many students were. (In fact, the student body of my high school was about half Asian-American, half otherwise.) This involved a lot of cases of students' names being mispronounced during attendance. (In fact, a Latin American girl's last name was actually mispronounced during graduation by the Vice-Principal, who did not catch himself.) So, I was very lucky; except for that one Bulgarian sub, everyone knew how to pronounce the name Zachary.

That changed for me here in Argentina, where I'm currently studying abroad. Whenever strangers say my first name aloud (for example, when my name is called so I can get my order in a cafe), it is almost invariably pronounced with the stress on the second syllable and the "ch" pronounced as a "ch". This initially bamboozled me. The name is so omnipresent in the U.S. (at least in my experience), and the U.S. possesses such cultural capital (you ought to hear how pop music back home invariably plays in business places here in Buenos Aires), I would have naturally assumed that people would recognize it.

Why am I fixating on this? Well, of course, a person's name is kind of important, and hearing it mispronounced is a little jarring. Getting used to it, I suppose, is just another fruitful culture shock of being abroad, and, for that, I'm very grateful.

The big thing, though, is that this is one little example of how we estadounidenses (especially those of us whose parents were not born abroad), though our prevailing culture has indeed come to take over the world to a great extent, need to be conscious of cultural diversity. What to us is obvious and normal may not be so in other parts of the world. Our country prides itself on being a nation of immigrants and having sufficient cultural space for love of diversity. This is a very beautiful thing, and experiences like mine are a good way to be nudged along on the path of not forgetting this.

Report this Content
This article has not been reviewed by Odyssey HQ and solely reflects the ideas and opinions of the creator.

Podcasts are such an integral part of some of our everyday lives that it can be hard to recall a time at which they didn't exist. Podcasts exist on about every single topic, from dating to celebrity gossip and Harry Potter.

Now more than ever, it's likely you're reeling from the news, and (hopefully) wanting to do something about it in order to educate yourself. Podcasts are one of the best ways to get the most up-to-date information in a conversational, personal way from some of today's top educators, scholars, and theorists.

Keep Reading... Show less

Stop Pitying Me Because I'm Single, I'm Very Happy With My Relationship With Myself

I don't need your opinions on why I'm single and you're not. We are two different people.

I'm so happy for my friends when they get into relationships, but that doesn't mean they get to have control over my love life, and that is what bothers me. For the record, I've been in four relationships, one lasting for three years, so I do understand relationships.

Keep Reading... Show less

13 Books About Race Absolutely Every American Should Read, Especially Now

Books about black lives, from classics to new must-reads.

It's likely you are seeing the current state of the world and wanting to do something about it. Whether you're only beginning to or wanting to deepen your understanding of the black experience, these books are precisely where to start.

Some, like Maya Angelou's "I Know Why The Caged Bird Sings, are classics you've probably heard of, but may not have picked up yet. Others, like Reni Eddo-Lodge's "Why I'm No Longer Talking To White People About Race," are newer hits.

Keep Reading... Show less

What's Coming To And Leaving Netflix In June For Your Summer Viewing Pleasure

Just in time for another your summer binge-watch list.

Paramount Pictures

The first of the month is now here, which means we will be losing some of our Netflix favorites but gaining some new ones.

Here is a list of TV shows and movies we will be losing and gaining on Netflix during June.

Keep Reading... Show less
Politics and Activism

I Was At The Atlanta George Floyd Protests, Here's What It Was Like Before The Violence Started

What started out as a peaceful protest quickly resulted in destruction, with mixed opinions leading narratives on both sides.

When I heard about the protests happening in my city in honor of George Floyd, a black man who was brutally and fatally detained by police in broad daylight, I was conflicted about the best way for me to support a cause that I was passionate about. The senseless killings of people of color in America had been weighing on me, and I was eager for a way to help, to do my part. I wanted to be out on the ground with my community, having our voices heard. However, there was the issue of the coronavirus, a very real and troublesome threat that is still controlling our daily lives.

Keep Reading... Show less
Health and Wellness

If You Can Eat Crap And Stay Thin You Aren't Healthy, You're Lucky

A high metabolism isn't a get-out-of-jail-free card!

Photo by Tarutoa on Unsplash

Everyone has that one friend — the one who eats to their heart's content but never gains an ounce. Meanwhile, you feel like you gain five pounds just stealing a glance at a hamburger! My childhood best friend was like that, much to my chagrin. Anyone who hadn't witnessed her eat might be tempted to say that she was thin because of her diet, but she would sometimes eat a bag of Sour Patch Kids as a "meal." One time, I watched in awe as she chowed down on a "salad" made up of one part romaine lettuce, two parts shredded cheddar cheese, and two parts French dressing — it was nothing more than a red lake of dressing with bits of green and orange debris floating in it. Clearly our definitions of "salad" were quite different, as were our perceptions of a balanced meal.

Keep Reading... Show less

I Started Dating A Guy Before Quarantine, But Now We Rarely Speak Unless I Double-Text

"He's really nice and cute and I like being around him when we see each other, but he's awful at communication."

Each week Swoonie B will give her advice on anonymous topics submitted by readers. Want to Ask Swoonie B something related to dating and relationships? Fill out this form here — it's anonymous.

Keep Reading... Show less
Facebook Comments