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Can you say refrigerator?

Can you say refrigerator? If so . . . you can learn anyone's name.

In a recent blog I shared my conversation with a yoga instructor who told me she can only pronounce names that are in English. After a brief friendly exchange between us, she tried . . . and voila . . . learned quite quickly to say my first name correctly.

ALL of us learn long and difficult words, many of them in our native languages, including English. The word refrigerator reminds me of a story shared by Minal Hajratwala in her lovely book, Leaving India: My Family’s Journey From Five Villages to Five Continents.

In a job interview her father's prospective employer said:

“Your name is very long, can we call you Bob?”

"When I learned English - refrigerator - was a very hard word. You have only one word to learn, not a whole language. I think you can learn to say Bhupendra.”

I love that story of Bhupendra’s courage and pride. He got the job.

It’s always a risk to ask someone who has power over you to say your name correctly. A young lawyer friend told me that when she uses the correct pronunciation of her Spanish name in court, some judges' body language leaves her wondering: Is the judge annoyed with her? Will this have a negative impact on her client’s case? Should she Anglicize the pronunciation of her beautiful sounding name?

All she's done is stated her appearance for the record by saying her name correctly, and spelling it for the court reporter. She isn’t correcting the judge or insisting on any particular pronunciation. Can we all agree that no one should be required to mispronounce their own name?

All of us find it challenging to learn new names, and every time I see Dhaya Lakshminarayanan’s name, I imagine myself saying it in a free-flowing natural and beautiful way. But I'm not sure I do have it right. Yes, Lakshminarayanan has lots of syllables, but all of them are simple and familiar sounds. Rather than think, "I can't say that!" I wonder what might help me remember how to say it. I've never met Dhaya, but I am wanting to interview her some day and will ask her what tips she offers folks who want to say her name correctly. I'll be sure to share that story with you.

Thanks to all who have already seen my show, I invite you to come see it again, as it has changed significantly from the earlier version called, Tell Me Your Name. If you enjoyed it tell your friends about it. Join us for an enjoyable evening (money back guarantee from me) of live theatre this Sunday evening with four women storytellers, short and sweet, you’ll be out before 9 pm.

If you already have tickets or are planning to be there, send me a reply email so I can say hello and thank you after the show. Buy your tickets ahead of time, as the show sold out last time, and we’re hoping for a repeat. Tickets at:

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