Pronunciation vs. Ignorance





It’s what they all said with an awkward expression. My answer was always the same.

“It’s Aigner - “On-ya”  

As long as I can remember I hated my name, especially when it came to the outside world. It would make me mad, because they had no problem pronouncing other people’s name but when they started to stutter I knew for a fact that they got to my name. Every so often I have flashbacks to when the teacher would say


and I would run out of the classroom crying my eyes out, as I heard the echoes of my class’s laughter.

“Why did she give me this name”,

is what I would constantly repeat in my head “Out of all names and I get stuck with this dreadful name.”.

The year of 2012 is when I started to dance. My hip-hop teacher, Mr. Balou had the hardest time pronouncing my name. It was so difficult for him to pronounce that it got to a point that he was purposely mispronouncing my name, insteading of getting to learn it. Hearing the name he gave me made me feel like I myself was not human, didn’t have no respect for me and I belonged somewhere strangely unusual. It made me wonder how my other teacher got the jist of it but he just shut downed and called me whatever was easier for him. My mom pulled me out of dance, not because of the name thing be honest I don’t even know why she did such a thing. Next thing you know, I was playing tennis. For some reason I had a high hope of my coaches pronouncing my name right but I should’ve known that no matter where I go there will always be a mis-pronunciation. For the whole year I was there not once did they get it right. Based on the spelling of my name the word Ag-ner would just slip out there mouth. At time I use to think they would mess it up on purpose cause when they said it they will laugh it off. This ignorance made me mad, so I went up to her one morning and told her I quit. I never thought she would say “Ok, let me know if see other things that interest you.”.

When I would accurately pronounce my name, I would sometime say it’s french. Some people would ask numerous questions about my name. Hearing these questions would make me laugh or it would be so preposterous.

“Are you french?”

“Say something in French?”

“Were you born in France?”

“Do you have French in your family background?”

Still to this day I am ask such ridiculous questions about being French. Every so often when I explain my name to people they are amazed that the letters are silent and realize that they are adding more pressure than needed.

Seventh grade year, I remember that year because that was a year where we had a ton of substitute teachers. As soon as the bell rung at 12:15 me and my classmates rushed down to the computer lab, for the cool refreshing air. Of course, she had to do role call but I had gotten over the fact that my name was quite difficult to pronounce based on its spelling. After the words “Khairiyyah Tumaini” fled her mouth I just knew what was coming. For the first time, throughout all the substitute teachers I had she got it right, with no stuttering nor hesitation. Instead of saying

¨Present¨, I replied with a

“Thank you”.

She looked at my puzzle with her face saying

“Why so she say thank you?”,

“Everybody always messes it up”, my friend replies. For some reason hearing the pronunciation “On-ya” made me realize that I can't make assumptions and judge people's interpretation.

Long story short having this name makes me feel a lot of things, majority of the time feeling peculiar. At times I think to myself that I shouldn’t let this ruin myself.

Comments (5)

Kyree Yates (Student 2021)
Kyree Yates

I enjoyed your story.I can tell this was carefully written. It seems like you took a lot of time and put a lot of effort into writing this piece. Good Job :)

Jonathan Rodebaugh (Student 2021)
Jonathan Rodebaugh

This was a really interesting story, I had fun reading it. The whole story is moving because of how it made you feel. You did a good job talking about past events, and using backstory. You also set good scenes, I really understood what was going on and I could picture it in my head. To use reflection you talked about how the incorrect name calling made you feel, and you did a good job on that.

Hillary Hernandez (Student 2021)
Hillary Hernandez

I really enjoyed your story, and i feel your frustration for people not saying your name right, but its a part of you and it will forever make you unique. I do enjoy your backstory you put in your story and the anecdote i just maybe wished the reflection could have been just a little bit longer , but other than that great job!!

Londyn Edwards (Student 2021)
Londyn Edwards

I really loved your story about the struggle you've had with your name over the years, Aigner. You were able to give me as a reader a very clear idea of what it feels like to have people constantly mispronouncing or calling you the wrong name. I really liked your use of anecdotes in conjunction with your use of backstory. With the way you formatted it, I was able to see a different anecdote in between every paragraph of backstory you had and, in my mind, it almost played out like a movie with a good ending. Keep up the great work!

Ashton Krause (Student 2021)
Ashton Krause

I really enjoyed reading your story, I could feel the passion and emotions you have for this subject while reading it. I can't relate to people mispronouncing my name but the way you expressed your emotions with authority is relatable. Nice job!