Vol. 62 No. 1 (2014)
Research Article

Reading and Righting the Names at a Convocation Ceremony: Influences of Linguistic Ideologies on Name Usage in an Institutional Interaction

Published 2014-03-01



At a Canadian university with a diverse population, orators at convocation ceremonies follow a protocol to facilitate the correct pronunciation of names. I describe the protocol and analyze one name-announcement segment, incorporating data from interviews with faculty and students. I argue that linguistic ideologies influence and reflect the way names are used in institutional interactions. In an institutional discourse of multiculturalism, names are seen as symbols of persons, and efforts to say names correctly are demonstrations of respect. This can be undermined by orators’ practices, which focus on names as words and mark some non-English names as “difficult,” such as repeated verification and halting pronunciation. For students with these names, this may contribute to negative feelings about being treated as outsiders in the dominant society. Attention to linguistic ideologies reveals that the university’s protocol is as much a mechanism for reducing uncertainty among orators as for treating students respectfully.


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