What’s in a name? More than a first impression

Names are one of the most integral parts of one’s identity. Though some are seen more often than others, it is still vital that everyone has a name. They provide one’s place in their community, school, sports team, and more. Names reinforce an individual’s sense of belonging in the world. In some cases, names reflect one’s cultural background and ethnicity, so it’s crucial to be aware of names’ origins and steer clear of offending someone.

With this in mind, mispronouncing names, mixing two people with the same name up, and other actions along these lines can negatively impact someone.

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There is no fix [when it comes to people mispronouncing my name].

— Luwam Mebrahtu

Freshman Luwam Mebrahtu (Lou-um Meb-brah-too) shares her experience with an uncommon name. The history behind her name has ties to family: “It is Eritrean and was my mom’s great great great grandmother’s name, so I’m named after her.”

Most of Mebrahtu’s encounters surrounding her name involve mispronunciation: “I deal with it by just correcting them.”

At times, she takes different approaches. “I’ll spell my name out for people to visualize it. So I spell it like Lou-um Meb-brah-too,” she said.

Mebrahtu discloses that “there is no fix” when it comes to people mispronouncing her name; however, her experience outside school is the opposite.

“Anywhere I go where my parents are from, it’s easier for them to pronounce my name,” Mebrahtu admits.

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It’s not desirable, but people mess up who they’re talking to.

— Liam Sullivan

Sophomore Liam Sullivan said having a common name has altered aspects of his identity. He goes by a nickname at school.

“My real name is William,” he said.

Even though he is one of 10 “Will,” “William,” or “Liam” students in the upper school, Sullivan isn’t interested in changing his name. “It’s not desirable, but people mess up who they’re talking to,” he said. “In class,” he said that there are times when “I can’t tell which ‘Liam’ my teacher is talking to.”

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