The butchered name in a coffee shop is sometimes seen as humorous, especially for someone with a “common” name. However, it’s a different matter when someone purposefully mispronounces a name because they are either too lazy to learn it or are attempting a power play that elevates the speaker over the person they are addressing. Because names are so intertwined with our identity, such discourtesy can be demoralizing or even dehumanizing. Rajat Panwar writes, “In some cultures, such as Asian or Middle Eastern, we’re given names that are deeply rooted in social and cultural beliefs. In India, for instance, the Naam Karan or the naming ceremony, which typically involves a large social gathering, is considered one of the 16 most significant rituals of life, similar in stature to birth and death. Parents, families, and relatives make extensive efforts to determine the most suitable name for a child. … Although it is nuanced and complex, broadly speaking, the underlying naming belief is that you are named what you ought to be like” (Rajat Panwar, “Why Getting Someone’s Name Right Matters,” Ascend, Harvard Business Review, January 11, 2022, https://hbr.org/2022/01/why-getting-someones-name-right-matters).
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