A young man named Daniel was studying his senior year at high school. Despite the name “Daniel” being rather common, it had recently proven to be a source of frustration and controversy at school.
Daniel lived in Canada, a country where both English and French are spoken as first languages. Specifically, Daniel lived in one of the French-dominant parts of Canada, despite speaking English as his personal first language.
No English at School
The high school that Daniel attended had the primary language of instruction as French, due to its French-speaking geographical location. English, while widely spoken, was discouraged during school hours.
Daniel or Danielle
The name Daniel was confusing to have in this French-speaking part of Canada. “Daniel has both a French and English pronunciation”, explained the young man. “In English, it is pronounced exactly how you’d expect, but in French, it’s pronounced like Danielle.”
Daniel’s Preferred Pronunciation
Despite living in a French-speaking area, Daniel identified as an English speaker and therefore preferred for his name to be spoken with the English pronunciation. “I really hate the French pronunciation of my name”, he explained.
A Reasonable Request
Due to his dislike for the pronunciation of “Danielle”, the young man had asked people to pronounce his name in an English manner. “This has never been a problem, and all of my other teachers have always been fine with this”, he wrote.
A Teacher’s Unusual Refusal
However, one of Daniel’s teachers, whose first language is English, refuses to pronounce his name as “Daniel” and insists on using the French pronunciation. This refusal has caused a series of conflicts in class, which Daniel felt were completely unnecessary.
Discipline and Principal’s Office Visits
Despite Daniel’s efforts, the teacher remained steadfast in using the French pronunciation. Daniel’s persistence in correcting her had led to disciplinary actions and he had even been sent to see the principal on multiple occasions due to this ongoing disagreement.
Name Vs. Language
Daniel’s teacher persistently argued that pronouncing his name as he wishes constitutes speaking English within the strictly French-speaking school environment. Daniel disagreed, asserting that his name is a personal matter, and it should be pronounced according to his preference.
A Question of Identity
Daniel became hugely frustrated by this issue, particularly because it was now disrupting his studies. He explained that he would understand if his teacher only spoke French, but their first language was English, so there was no excuse. Furthermore, he believed “Daniel” was part of his identity, and the pronunciation had nothing to do with language preferences.
Daniel decided to vent his frustrations on the internet to see whether he was making a mountain out of a molehill. Thankfully, everyone came to the young man’s defense. “I’d fight back”, claimed one reader. “I’d ignore her when she called me Danielle.”
Country Doesn’t Come Into it
Many commenters wrote of how the teacher’s logic made no sense. “Your name doesn’t change just because you change countries”, someone stated. “A Spanish Maria is Maria; even if she moves to the UK, she doesn’t magically become Mary.”
One reader even compared Daniel’s experiences to discrimination: They explained, “Let’s take this to the extreme – if you were black or Asian and had a black or Asian name, and people just refused to pronounce your name correctly “because that’s how we say it” then it would be rightly identified as discrimination. Everyone has the right to be called by their own name.”
Complain to the School Board
Accusations of discrimination were common within the thread. “If the principal is against you, get your parents to go to the school board”, one commenter suggested. “It’s straight-up discrimination to refuse to pronounce a name correctly.”
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