The Power of Names

Emely Chairez

A name is something that is given to everyone. Some people are given several while others only have two. I fall under the latter. My name is Emely Chairez. My entire life I have been proud of my name because it gave me a sense of identity and I am sure that others can agree.

But my entire life it has also been mispronounced and misspelled. 

My name is pronounced eh-meh-lee ch-eye-res. The most ridiculous pronunciation I have quite possibly ever heard was ee-meh-lee ch-ez-le. People see my name and immediately are intimidated by it and subconsciously decide to just mumble their way through it. 

Some people actively try to say my name correctly and for that I am grateful. Others blatantly refuse to properly say my name. I am not alone in this experience. Countless people have had to deal with others mispronouncing their names and refusing to learn. Instead, sometimes people choose the easy way out and instead give them a nickname. Nicknames are typically nice as they show a sign of affection. However, when you give someone a nickname because you simply want to call them something else besides their name, it is not flattering. 

It is insulting. 

For example, my brother’s name is Ricardo. It is a very easy name to say, even for nonnative Spanish speakers. My family has taken to calling him Richie as an affectionate nickname. When my brother started going to school he started getting upset when he came home because kids weren’t calling him by his actual name. They refused to call him Ricardo, not because they couldn’t say it, but because they didn’t want to say a name foreign to them. They were uncomfortable saying a name that they weren’t used to hearing. Instead they took to calling him Ricky.

My brother would come home upset because that was not his name. It wasn’t even his nickname. It was frustrating for him to have people call him the name of someone he wasn’t. He would come home annoyed and even though he told his classmates repeatedly that it wasn’t his name, they refused to listen. 

Unfortunately, my brother’s story is not unique. Many others have had similar experiences where their name has been altered or completely changed. By changing someone’s name you are taking away their sense of identity. A name is not just a word. 

It has power. 

By changing a name, you take away the power a name holds. 

Now, some names are quite difficult to pronounce. But with practice and repetition, one can get it right. I have never been offended by someone mispronouncing my name on the first try. I either find it amusing or only slightly bothersome. I try to correct the person if they mispronounce my name. 

However, I do take offense when some people I’ve known for years still say it wrong or when people refuse to say it correctly. It’s infuriating for people to completely disregard the importance of my name. Some people refuse to say my last name claiming that it’s far too hard for them. Here are 10 words harder to pronounce correctly than Chairez. 


  1. Worcestershire
  2. Isthmus
  3. Czechoslovakia
  4. Rural
  5. Anemone
  6. Quinoa
  7. Onomatopoeia
  8. Supercalifragilisticexpialidocious 
  9. Pangaea 
  10. Antidisestablishmentarianism 


If you can learn to say any of these words then you can learn to say someone’s name. People see a challenge with foreign names but with practice and repetition anyone can learn how to pronounce them properly.