Leaders Pronounce Names Correctly

I was recently at a formal event where a few dozen individuals were honored with a “once-in-a-lifetime”, very selective, award.

Presenting the awards were leaders from the various sponsors of the event. And, on several occasions, honorees’ names were pronounced wrong.

Some were difficult, or confusing, but still it was clear that some presenters simply hadn’t taken the 5-10 seconds needed to figure them out.

The worst was this – a presenter fumbled someone’s name, but then, instead of apologizing or clarifying, he said:

“Close enough.”

It’s likely the award winner’s family, friends and other loved ones were present, all dressed to the nines for this moment of honor, and it was sullied by “close enough.”


I used to work in public schools, where daily announcements were given over the speaker system, and would often wince when the names of foreign exchange students were butchered.

Worse yet, these students were sometimes only called by their first names, e.g. “Would John Smith, Mary Blair, and, um… Asuka, I guess, report to the office please.”

A similar, but also undignified, slight occurred when siblings were lumped together. For example, instead of calling “Kara Mohs” and “Kelsey Mohs” to the office, the announcer would say “The Mohs twins.” They are separate human beings, but this little touch robbed them of that dignity, just a bit.

Casual lack of respect can cause others to disengage.

Please, make time to pronounce names correctly. It offers dignity, shows you care, and connects.

Thanks for reading,

Alan Feirer

Ashleigh’s Input: This topic is particularly dear to me, since the assumed spelling of my name is always “Ashley”. I’m reminded of a time when one Starbucks barista asked me, “How do you spell that?”, before writing my name. That person made me feel like a million bucks – because they cared.

7 Responses

  1. Tami
    | Reply

    I agree. My name, spelled Tami often gets misspelled which I have always found frustrating and disrespectful when others have replied or sent me messages with incorrect spelling….but then I got married….wow! Does my last name ever get butchered? With a name like Schechinger (pronounced shekinger) its something both and my children will spend a lifetime working on accepting.

  2. Jen Williams
    | Reply

    Thanks for encouraging me to read this. That is why I take the time at IJC to find out how to correctly pronounce the school and director’s names. Yesterday, one band in the afternoon was thrilled when I asked them how to correctly pronounce their school and director’s names. To quote the director, “You will be these kids favorite announcer EVER for getting that right!” I took great pride in that! 🙂

    • Alan Feirer
      | Reply

      Super cool, Jen! Thanks for sharing a real-world story.

  3. Fred Sawtelle
    | Reply

    It’s interesting, and perhaps not coincidental, that you, with your name, should be the author of this article. In a spoken presentation I am making reference to the book, “Cabinetmaking and Millwork”, by John L. Feirer. To make sure I pronounce it correctly I searched the web, and this article was among the results. Of course the pronunciation isn’t here, and browsing the website for videos in which you introduce yourself turned up a zero. I did find it in the link below as pronounced in Norwegian Bokmål, where my best guess on the phonetic spelling is “fie’-res”. In the absence of anything clearer, I’m going with “fie’-rer”–long i, accented first syllable.
    By the way, the variations of my name (pronounced “saw-tell” with no clearly accented syllable) have been many, including the inevitable “sawtellie”, “sawtillie”, “swatell” (strangely popular; dyslexia may play a role), and “sawtle” (sounds like bottle).

    • Alan Feirer
      | Reply


      Thank you for this comment – it ranks among one of the most interesting and pleasing; I appreciate your story and background.

      I believe you have the correct pronunciation correct. That’s not a typo. I also believe that my family simplified the pronunciation a few generations ago, and we have pronounced it like “fire.” As in, “my house is on fire.”

      As far as we have gathered, we believe it is Austrian, but now I wonder if there’s some Scandinavia back there somewhere.

      Thank you for making the time to share this, Fred, and best wishes to you.

    • Alan Feirer
      | Reply

      Fred- I did a little more research by consulting my aunt and uncle who have done much genealogical work, and they shared this thought:
      Feirer is definitely not Norwegian. It is Germanic. The correct German pronunciation would have been “Fi-rer”, long “i” pronounced in two syllables, accent on the first syllable.
      The Feirer family came from an area in Bohemia, in the old Austro-Hungarian Empire (as did many families who settled in Oshkosh during the great European migrations of the 1860’s-1910’s). At that time, the borders were such that they were 11 miles from Germany, in the “Black Forest”. That area is now in the Czech Republic. Although they were German speaking, and Germanic in ancestry, they were more Austrian than German.

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