Massachusetts Daily Collegian

A free and responsible press serving the UMass community since 1890

A free and responsible press serving the UMass community since 1890

Massachusetts Daily Collegian

A free and responsible press serving the UMass community since 1890

Massachusetts Daily Collegian

Satire: There’s a solution to the serial mispronunciation of names

Changes to SPIRE and Moodle can keep them ignorant and you breathing easy
Collegian File Photo (2009)

Editor’s Note: The following column is satirical. It is meant for humorous purposes. All interviews and individuals are fictitious.

It’s the point of no return for anyone with a vaguely ethnic-sounding name here at the University of Massachusetts. We all have people in our lives who have consistently been mispronouncing our names the whole time, and the options are dwindling down.

These mispronunciations are bound to pop up, and when hearing garbled versions of your name is the norm, sometimes it’s just too much effort to correct people. Did someone add five unnecessary vowels to my name? Yes. But, do I care enough to do more than say, “Yeah, sure,” when they nervously ask me whether they pronounced it right? No!

The unfortunate side effect of this is that one does end up with a worrying amount of name variations; they are all constantly at risk of being revealed as lies at any moment. But the ruse must not be uncovered.

Imagine – the guy who you’ve texted random homework questions to and exchanged bland greetings with for nine whole weeks discovers your name is not, in fact, the same as that of a popular food. Embarrassing!

What if your professor learns that the “j” in your name is pronounced as indicated despite her assurance that in Spanish it’s pronounced as an “h.” You are not even Hispanic! Now she’s left wondering if she’s committed a microaggression, and you’re just confused.

However, fear not. There is a simple solution for all of us unfortunate souls with names that were never found on those small memento license plates. Managing the countless variations of our name may seem impossible, but with the intervention of the UMass IT department, I believe this can change. SPIRE and Moodle should be equipped with a feature to select which versions of our names appear on our contact pages.

The implications of this change would be massive for everyone whose parents were either immigrants or on banned substances during the ‘90s.

Do you know someone nosy enough to peer over your shoulder while you panic check your grades on Moodle mid-class? Does that someone also happen to always call you by the name of the only other student in class who’s the same ethnicity as you? With an updated Moodle interface, you could handily select that name to be the one displayed in the upper right corner of the screen. Crisis averted!

You could also keep your professor in the dark while they grade assignments, giving them a happy glow of comfort from seeing that your name is, in fact, spelled like the nightmarish way they pronounce it. Let them see the ancient spell they incant every time they respond to you in class; they deserve it.

I spoke with senior Missy Nomer (I cannot verify if this was really her name), who explained the importance of protecting her identity in class. “Today, I was watching that girl who always responds to my discussion posts on Moodle with ‘Michael, I agree with your opinion!’ log onto our class page. I saw her eyes barely graze the line where my actual name was written with a slow wave of dread coursing down my spine.”

In response to my question about what she would have done if her classmate did end up bothering to actually read what her name is, Missy said, “Oh, I would find someone else at the university named Michael, knock him out, hypnotize him, steal his identity and go about the rest of my days playing him in a sham so convincing I one day end up fooling even myself!”

“It’s the only solution, really,” she added, “it would be so awkward otherwise.”

But forget the students of today; this change would also be an investment in the students of tomorrow. When all the children with names selected from the deep recesses of Facebook baby groups come to UMass, this problem is only going to get worse.

 If the UMass IT department starts working on these updates today, there’s a solid chance that students in the class of 2052 will be able to reap the rewards. It would be a real Moodle miracle!

Srija Nagireddy can be reached at [email protected].

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