Every Letter Counts
"Theresa, my compliments on the correct spelling of the name of my home country! Very culturally aware of you!"
Can you guess the country?
Just 6 letters long.
Yet, just typing it now, a red-line appears underneath to say that I spelled it incorrectly.
But I didn't, at least not in the eyes of a Brasilian.
My English teacher, though, would have marked it wrong. It's Brazil in the United States.
From the time I was an English teacher to non-native learners, I put great effort into learning how to pronounce and spell peoples names correctly.
Not the Westernized form of the name, but the full given name.
I will admit that it was easier for me to pronounce my Mexican and Honduran students names, and harder for me to pronounce my Chinese students names.
But with practice, with patience, and with humility, I would eventually get there.
We owe it to the people we interact and work with, to be able to say their names correctly, and spell it correctly if we need to.
It's a sign of respect.
Writing Brazil, with a "Z" might be normal for an American, but it's anything but for a Brasilian.
As you interact with people from other countries and cultures, I invite you to be aware of what you believe to be "normal" because it might not be so normal for them.
Be humble in your learning, and vulnerable enough to say, "I am sorry for mispronouncing your name. Will you help me learn how to say it properly?"
Our lens of the world isn't shared by everyone, nor is our pronunciation.
How were you taught to spell Brazil/Brasil?
How do you pronounce Qatar?
Originally posted on LinkedIn with comments.
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I am Theresa Destrebecq (I dare you to try to pronounce it...)