Small brain and big names

Viswanathan is not entirely easy to pronounce, but your inability to say it right, has more to do with your unwillingness to learn.

If Viswanathan was the name of a wine (Schwarzriesling), a region (Languedoc-Roussillon) or anything that belonged to a culture you aspire to (read West European mostly) – you would make the effort to learn it. Or if you were petrified of being seen as unrefined.

There’s (are?) enough White/ Black/ Brown people who can get the name quite easily – or at the very least – give it a shot. It’s when you stare at the characters, and claim you can’t even try – it makes me think of you as illiterate.

It’s Vish-vuh-na-than.

If you don’t get that – your brain is small, rather than the name being long. Thanks very much. /end rant.

PS – I don’t have a problem with mispronunciation, my issue is when a person refuses to even try. And this isn’t specific to an ethnicity or a people, those who encounter this, will come across it in any country, and across settings.

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13 Responses to Small brain and big names

  1. Sara says:

    “There’s enough White/ Black/ Brown people…”: seems like you could do with a grammar class yourself.


  2. Sara – I am glad you managed to really understand the point I was trying to get across. But for future reference – the word ‘people’ can be singular or plural.


  3. A Karachalios says:

    I feel your pain! I was born in the US and now live in the UK. People don’t even try to ask me how they should pronounce my second name. It’s as if I should be ashamed of my name. If I can learn how to pronounce Leicester, how hard is it try and learn how to say my name, especially if they deal with me on a daily basis.

    I would ignore the lady above who tried to correct your grammar. She sounds like she is just being defensive.


  4. Renu says:

    Must be pretty annoying! Especially if it occurs repeatedly from the same person.

    Viswanathan doesn’t seem that difficult to pronounce, even if the person in question is a dud. If you ask me, he/she is doing it on purpose either because he/she thinks it’s funny to do so or he/she doesn’t quite like you.
    Sigh, the world’s so full of (mad(hatters) & haters!


  5. Nilu says:

    Guilty! I am so afraid of mispronouncing and hurting somebody’s feelings that I refrain from doing so altogether!

    This perspective from you makes me want to do things differently henceforth!


  6. Sashidharan says:

    I totally agree with you. I myself felt this many times.


  7. Have taught a lot of folks in the USA who say “I am not even going to try to read that one” when they see my name spelled out Sundararaman Narayanan to “take it two letters at a time wherever a consonant is followed by a vowel” and explained how Tamil works. . .

    a lot of them get it when you break it down like that and have even thanked me for giving them the “cheat sheet” when it comes to reading long south Indian names.



  8. Sowmya says:

    I know you hail from Delhi, but when N.Indians do this to S.Indian names…I can so imagine the rest of the world doing it to Indian names. To me, even getting people to say my first name right is a task.


  9. megha says:

    It’s not just big names, it is even small names..NEEV is pronounced as ‘NEEY’.


  10. And which syllable gets the accent, so that I can avoid putting the emPHAsis on the wrong syllAble?


  11. cheer up for at least having a short first name 🙂 for some people its even worst with a long and complex first name … like me 🙂


  12. hmm…The trouble and the real problem is when and how to judge if the other person is trying or not without being explicit.


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