April 28, 2010

What's in a Name?

From an unnamed university in the greater San Francisco Bay Area...

Graduation is next week. Even though we've known the date for months, it always seems to sneak up on us. One thing I've been assigned to do is teach our dean how to pronounce our students' names. I spent a good portion of this morning writing out the more hard-to-pronounce names phonetically in preparation for our pronunciation meeting today.

Our dean likes to believe that this name-tutorial is something he doesn't need, but in his heart he knows he doesn't know how to say many of the students' names and he doesn't want to blow it on the big day in front of all their friends and family. Here are some of the best quotes from today's meeting.

Dean: So this is easy....Helene.
S: No, she's French, it's more like ell-ENN.
Dean: Damn France.

Dean: Margareta....or Margarita?
S: She goes by Maggie.
Dean: Well then why the hell doesn't this paper say so? What do you even do here, S?

S: You're close, but it's more of an "ahhh" sound then a "uhhh" sound.
Dean: Why don't you just read the damn names then, if you're so smart?

Now that he's such a master at knowing how to say the names of his students, 11 days before they graduate, he's just going around the building, shouting out the correct pronunciations of different names. Not at the appropriate students, mind you. That's next week's meeting.

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