Do you use Facebook? While it is officially banned for under 13 years, a survey last year showed that almost half of Britain’s pre-teens have a Facebook account. Joanna Bradey tells us what she likes about Facebook.
Facebook: What’s it all about?
Facebook is a website created in 2004 by a US college student Mark Zuckerberg. It started off as a way of college students to network with each other, which quickly spread throughout the world, and now has millions of members. Facebook works by people registering and creating a profile for themselves, and then becoming ‘friends’ with other people. A user can update their status to let their friends know what they’re up to, upload photos to share, send private messages to each other, and play games. You need to be at least 13 years old to be a member, and Facebook is banned in some countries altogether, like Syria and Iran.
The thing that I like about Facebook is that it is a quick and easy way to keep in touch with all those people I have met in real-life but don’t have time to write to or call them, like old workmates or family that have moved away. I can upload a photo and anyone I am friends with can see it, and comment on it. In the days before Facebook, if I wanted to share a photo with everyone, I would have to print out lots of copies and send them in the post, which is very expensive and time-consuming. Since I joined Facebook, I am better at communicating with people and I enjoy seeing what all my friends and family are doing. I think that I know them better and it’s easy to keep-in-touch.
Do you ever wonder why people can’t pronounce your name correctly? Or struggle to say a friend’s name right sometimes? Here Avani tells us about her experiences, and how we can make the effort to pronounce things as best we can!
Do people always get your name wrong?
My name is Avani and let me start by saying: I get it.
Sometimes I spend ages teaching someone how to say my name properly (Uvni would probably be the best way to write how it’s pronounced) and other times I really can’t be bothered. I wish I had an easier name, or that people would just work harder to get it right!
Why do we find some names really difficult to pronounce and others really easy?
Here in England, people have names which come from all over the world. These names might be from places where a different language is spoken, and the different languages may also use different letters or characters to those we use for English.
My family, for example, come from a part of India called Gujarat. The Gujarati language uses a syllabary (a set of sounds) rather than an alphabet, but the syllables don’t always match up with English letter. The ‘v’ in ‘Avani’ (વ in Gujarati script) should actually be pronounced somewhere in between the English ‘v’ and ‘w’ sounds, but there isn’t an English letter that sounds exactly the same and this makes my name harder for people to remember! Also the ‘a’ and ‘u’ sounds in Gujarati are written using variations of the same symbol (અ (u) and આ (a)), which is why my name is spelt with an ‘A’, but pronounced using a ‘U’. Here’s what ‘Avani’ looks like written in Gujarati: અવનો – cool, right?
Languages which do use the same letters as those in English, may not pronounce all of them in the same way. This means that names that look similar on paper may be pronounced differently depending on where in the world someone lives. In Spanish, for example, the ‘j’ and ‘x’ letters are more like (but not identical to!) the English ‘h’, and in German, the letter ‘j’ sounds more like the English ‘y’ – can you imagine all the different ways people around the world must pronounce ‘Jesus’? You can listen to a few here!
It’s not only names from other countries that are hard to pronounce though! Have you ever thought about which common English names might be tricky for someone learning the language to get their head around? What about the name ‘Thomas’? We say it with a hard ‘T’ (like the one in ‘tree’, rather than the one in ‘three’) even though it is spelt with a ‘Th’, and we say the name ‘Charlotte’ with a ‘Sh’ sound (like in shop) even though it is spelt with a ‘Ch’ (like in chop). It must be hard to keep up with which names follow the usual pronunciation rules (like Theo or Charles) and which ones don’t!
What can I do if I think I’m pronouncing someone’s name wrong?
It is always worth checking with someone if you think you’re saying their name wrong – even if you’ve known them for ages and are embarrassed about asking, chances are they’ll be really glad to have an opportunity to correct you! However, it’s also important to remember that even if you know that the way someone says their name is different to the traditional way of saying it, you should always say their name like they have asked you to. Many people living in England, for example, prefer to go by a nickname or a more ‘Anglicised’ (English-sounding) version of their name to make things a little easier – so if you know a ‘Jesminder’ who prefers ‘Jess’, or a ‘Paulo’ who prefers ‘Paul’, you should respect their decision!
If you’ve just met someone new and have forgotten how to pronounce their name (or even if you’ve met them a few
times) – don’t despair, they probably won’t mind if you ask them again! If you are too embarrassed, though, there is a huge variety of pronunciation websites out there which will be able to help you. Click here for a good one!
Do you have a hard-to-pronounce name? Or have you ever been in an embarrassing situation over getting someone’s name wrong? Do you live in another country – which English names do you really struggle with? I’d love to hear your stories!
As well as trying to get people to say her name right, Avani Shah is currently working on a book for 8-12 year olds. She also blogs about her childhood and teenage experiences (Away with the Mice) and writes about words, etymology, and spelling for a website called Spellzone.
Title Photograph: Daisy 2008
Nom & Malc 2008
Hi! My name is Cait, I’m 14 years old and I live in the North-East of England. No matter where you live in the world, there is a good chance there are some drama clubs for kids in your area. Drama is one of my favourite hobbies, and I thought by answering some questions it may make you think about starting drama!
Do you have to know what you are doing?
No! When I first started doing drama I had absolutely no idea how to act, and that was okay. I went into this small drama club and had no idea what I was doing. But over the time that I went there, I gained skills and I learnt how to act. Going into drama having no idea what you are doing can be good because it means you can learn so many new skills, which is great! Over time you can learn how to do other things as well such as singing or dancing!