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Phonetic Name Initiative

What is the Phonetic Name Initiative?

Have you had to correct how people pronounce your name? Have you ever wondered how to pronounce someone’s name? Being able to pronounce someone’s name correctly is important in creating an inclusive environment. Through the “Phonetic Name Initiative,” Taubman College aims to build connections with colleagues and community members by learning how people pronounce their names the way that they prefer to do so.  We want to build community regardless if we are in person or physically distanced.

Why is it important?

Students’ socio-emotional well-being and worldview are impacted by the way instructors and peers pronounce their names. Mispronunciation of someone’s name can lead them to shy away from their culture and families. In some cases, people prefer to “Americanize'' or not use their name at all to avoid having to constantly have to teach people how to pronounce their name. This can result in an environment with a lack of trust and communicates disrespect. Faculty and staff are also affected by this.

The op-ed article, titled "Names That Are Unfamiliar to You Aren’t ‘Hard,’ They're ‘Unpracticed" offers excellent insight into what it can feel like for someone with an unfamiliar name in American society today.

How do I participate? 

There are several ways to be a part of the Phonetic Name Initiative. Check out the PNI Guide to learn more about how to participate virtually and in person.

How can I learn more?

Contact Joana Dos Santos, Chief Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion Officer at joanads@umich.edu

You can also check out Pronounce Names website (which now offers an Android app) or Voice of America's pronunciation guide to become familiar with how to pronounce any name.

For help in pronouncing Chinese names, you can check out this quick guide on pinyin pronunciation, literally 'spell out the sound'.  It is a system for romanizing Chinese ideograms, used in mainland China for Mandarin Chinese. 

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