Maya Sanghvi ’22 — or my-ah sung-vee — is tired of correcting professors’ pronunciation of her name in the classroom.
“Your name is a big part of you, and if someone is constantly mispronouncing it, it’s like you’re losing a part of your identity,” she said.
With the introduction of NameCoach –– a software that allows students to record their names online or type it phonetically to help faculty and students alike with correct pronunciation –– the days of correction, when Sanghvi was often known as sang-ha-vee, may be over.
University Registrar Emily Shandley announced the change in an email to students on Wednesday. Students can access the new recording program under the “Personal Data” tab of the Student Information Systems. With the new tool, users can record the pronunciation of their names, which will create an icon accessible within the online directory and on faculty rosters on Canvas. The software also allows students to phonetically spell their name and add preferred pronouns.
According to Shandley, the information will be available online to anyone who has access to a student’s Central Authentication Service credentials and will be available on platforms like Canvas. All individuals in the Yale community with a NetID and password will have access to NameCoach’s offerings.
“It is an optional feature, so students can elect to use it if they like, at any time, or not at all,” Shandley wrote in an email to the News. “While not formally part of the new diversity and inclusivity initiatives in the University, NameCoach does align well with those goals.”
The implementation of NameCoach was a collective decision among several University offices including the Office of the Secretary and Vice President for Student Life, the Office of the Provost and the Registrar’s Office. Discussions around NameCoach began more than a year ago, and the Law School implemented the program via Canvas in the summer of 2018. In the spring, NameCoach will also become available for student orientation activities and commencement programs.
The announcement of the new system comes approximately one week after the Registrar’s Office rolled out “My Gender” –– which allows students to change their gender online to M for male, F for female or N for nonbinary.
Alaina Perry ’22, who was eager to try out NameCoach, said she immediately tested the new system upon receiving the email. According to Perry, it took her “less than five minutes” to enter her name.
“Personally I have had trouble with people pronouncing my name, and it’s pretty simple so I can’t imagine how someone with a more complicated one might feel. I think this is a step toward making Yale more comfortable and friendly,” Perry said.
Still, Jack McArthur ’22 expressed concerns with the program, saying that if professors did use it, the specification of pronouns could “lead to singling people out on rosters.”
According to French professor Ruth Koizim, the program “has the potential of being extremely helpful” for students and faculty members. She added that the confusion surrounding the names of students who come other countries “can be stigmatizing.”
“I think it’s a great idea,” she said. “I think it will be tremendously useful to faculty, and I think it will be tremendously useful to students as our student body becomes more diverse.”
But Koizim raised concerns about the University’s increased collection of data through a variety of different platforms. Despite having an atypical name, Koizim said she may not record her name for the software due to questions about who is collecting the data and who has access to such data.
Shiri Goren, director of the modern Hebrew program, said she had not been aware of the software’s release but that it appears to be “a wonderful tool and a very positive development.”
“As someone with a foreign name which occasionally is unintentionally mispronounced, I’m well aware of the importance of this issue, both practically and symbolically” she said. “As a faculty who works with students every day through teaching and advising, I certainly hope to be able to take advantage of this new software once it is up and running.”
Shandley began her role as University Registrar in January 2018.
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