The Sun News

What’s in a name?

President Donald Trump recently came under fire for stumbling when he pronounced the name of one of the four American soldiers, who died in active duty in Niger on October 4, during his condolence call to Myeshia Johnson, widow of Sgt. La David Johnson.

The simple act of courtesy, and mark of honour, aimed at comforting the bereaved by the Number One citizen produced a perfectly opposite effect. The situation degenerated into a political fiasco that dominated media discourse, taking a heavy toll on Trumps’ already challenged public image.

Commenting on gaffe, Mrs. Johnson said: “If my husband is out there fighting for our country and he risked his life for our country, why can’t you remember his name?’

This gaffe, which the uninformed may dismiss as a storm in a teacup, aggravated the pain of loss to the heartbroken expectant widow.  “And it made me cry because it made me angry because I was very mad about the tone of his voice and how he said it, he couldn’t remember my husband’s name.’

Here lies another classic case of a noble action not just being ruined by tiny blunder, but which totally eclipsed what should be the highest mark of honour. Sadly, the gaucherie appears to have overshadowed the death of the three other gallant soldiers. Attention has shifted from the major matter, the loss of precious lives to the foul-up of stumbling over a name.

You may wonder, what’s in a name, why the hullabaloo, why has attention shifted from the gesture to a seemingly immaterial soft issue?

Wikipedia defines name as “a term used for identification.” It also states that names can identify a class or category of things, either uniquely, or within a given context.

Your name is you. It gives a glimpse of your history, belief, culture and background. In a nutshell, the totality of your personality is embedded in your name. It is so important that the Almighty God is interested in the name; mortals go as far as consulting celestial bodies to arrive at a name.  In traditional African culture, a naming ceremony is a major event. This is because your name plays a critical role in destiny. This is the reason why names with negative connotation are discarded.

A name is so powerful it can open or shut doors in your face depending on how it resonates with people. My friend had a privileged background; her father was a former military governor who ended up with a blighted identity. I watched in amazement how my friend could get whatever she wanted just by dropping her name. “A bad name is better than no name at all’ she always used to tell me.

Studies have shown in the U.S, a correlation between academic performance and mispronouncing a student’s name especially among immigrants. The report further revealed that attaching little importance to properly pronouncing a student’s name erodes the self-esteem, countermands the identity and has far reaching consequences like shame, embarrassment causing such youngsters to shy away from their language and culture with many changing their names. It was also viewed as ‘micro aggression’

Increasingly native names are being modified to blend with Western colouration in today’s inter webbed world.

With such weighty attributes therefore,  a name cannot be trifled with. When your name is distorted, your personality is affected leaving you offended.

Unfortunately, this is the norm, where many mangle the names of acquaintances at their own detriment. Others without decorum gleefully declare, “remind me that your name again. I have forgotten it.’ That is the height of churlish behavior.

It is disrespectful to make mockery of somebody’s name under any guise or circumstance. I struggled to keep a straight face when a lady introduced her self as Sister God’s Property, while the son is named Breakthrough.

In reality, everyone reacts somehow when the name is mispronounced or misspelt. Such impropriety elucidates diverse reactions; irritation, antagonism, and exasperation which could potentially endanger relationships.

The important thing is the manner of response. Etiquette is all about consideration and respect for others to achieve positive results.

If you are at the receiving end and your name has been ‘murdered’ simply smile and give a correct version of your name keeping in mind that the act is purely unintentional.

You can leave a message on your voice mail pronouncing your names correctly

Socially smart people take it in their stride, converting what should have been an awkward moment to consolidate affiliation.

A key relationship in my school years was with a roommate named Omonugegesakponome, simply called Onome. I had a record of being the first to have ever pronounced that name correctly without hesitation or stutter. That feat formed the bedrock of a wonderful rapport.

Business Etiquette requires you to devise means of recollecting names, also rewards proficiency in the art or quickness in correct name pronunciation.

Accomplishment in this minute skill yields maximum benefits. Why don’t you earn some cheap points through a deliberate acquisition of this influential knowhow?     

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1 Comment

  1. agbogashi 6th November 2017 at 6:34 pm

    There is really a lot and /or everything in a name.

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