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Mispronunciation of Asian surnames and the perils that may follow....

Updated on September 17, 2011

At least 40% of the Vietnamese population is reported to have the surname of "Nguyen". I've been told it can be pronounced as "Win". However, my first instinct is to try to pronounce it as I see it..."NeGooYen". Certainly, this is a horrible translation on my part.

I find I do have trouble with the pronunciation of some Asian surnames. To be honest, I can easily mispronounce ANY surname if it isn't simple.. Smith or Jones I can do!

I often have to read aloud names from various lists of clients for my job. A high percentage of the names are indeed Asian. In order to save myself some embarassment with my struggle to verbalize these names correctly, I recently began simply reading the FIRST names from the lists. It's MUCH easier to recite a first name and their associated numbers- 5005 or 210, etc., than to humiliate myself stumbling through the last names that I really can't pronounce. I do this recital monthly, during audits I must complete, usually with a few people in tow.

During my most recent audit however, I was accompanied by our CCO. I'd better look sharp!

All was going quite well. I was moving along nicely, simply reading the first names and any middle initials...

"Bi"- 590, "Tran"-470, "Lu G"- 110, etc.

That is until I came to the name Fa Q.

(Say it out loud, you'll see the problem!)

When I said..quite loudly..."Fa Q" 510, my CCO gasped, her jaw dropped and she said.. "WHAT did you say!?"

I think..."what is she..hard of hearing?" So I really yell it..."Fa Q! 510!"

I suddenly realize what it sounded like I was yelling. Hooooo boy!

Had to really scramble to SHOW her the name on the list. I wasn't just randomly shouting obscenities (with numbers?) at her! She's the CCO for heavens sake!

In retrospect, it would likely have been best to attempt the last name pronunciations after all.


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    • profile image


      7 years ago

      Haha. It is so true though.

    • PositiveChristian profile image


      7 years ago from Hailsham, England

      Haha, brilliant story!

    • thoughts220 profile image


      7 years ago from India

      Hahaha. :D


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