Second only to the embarrassment of calling someone by the wrong name is mispronouncing their name. People are usually too polite to correct you, so you just have to wonder whether you got it right, suffering in silence until the next time you hear somebody say it. …But what if THEY got it wrong, too??
There is a light at the end of your Sisyphean tunnel: via email on Thursday, Columbia unveiled the pilot of NameCoach, a third-party online tool that allows students to record their own names on CourseWorks to share with their classmates. The pilot version is available to students enrolled in any Arts & Sciences or Engineering class at Columbia’s Morningside campus.
The Registrar wrote in its email: “One’s name is an intrinsic and personal part of one’s identity. NameCoach facilitates our commitment to fostering an environment of inclusion, belonging, respect, and engagement, by empowering students and instructors to record and hear the correct name pronunciations of those in the class. We hope that this will cultivate familiarity in the classroom, even before classes start.”
Associate VP and Registrar Barry S. Kane emphasized that for students who use a preferred name at Columbia, NameCoach “completes that loop. Not only can a student request a preferred name, but they can specifically indicate how it should be pronounced,” he said over the phone.
Depending on the success of the program, the registrar will expand NameCoach to all of Columbia in the spring. Other schools like Barnard can decide independently if they want to adopt NameCoach. You can send feedback about the program to email@example.com.
Here’s how to use NameCoach (images available on the registrar website):
And that’s Riva with an “I,” not an “E” via Wikimedia Commons