Thursday, December 9, 2010

Name Game

Working in an inner city school, I always had creative and interesting names on my rosters. Parents combined their two names into one (appropriate considering the whole process of conception), so I had kids with names like "Jacwelynarius" or "Jimesha" or "Juantanya." There were often creative uses of the apostrophe or poetic license taken with the long "e" sound (it could be spell "ee" or "i" or "ea" or "ye" or "yy" or "y". the possibilities were endless)

When I was first handed my roster in Saudi Arabia, I was a little intimidated by the names that had the uniquely Arabic phonemes. For example, the "gh" sound might be transliterated a "gh," but it's actually a glottal sound that has absolutely no equal in the English language. Thus, saying names with the "gh" sound elicits snickers from my student.

After practicing the pronunciation of my students names and getting as close to correct as I could, I found out that just about all Arabic names have a meaning behind them. Like a real meaning, not a sentimental meaning. I love that fact and it makes my students even more beautiful. I get a mental picture each time I call out a name in class.

I've created a word cloud of my students' first names. You'll see a few familiar ones on there, but they are not pronounced the way you think. Arabs roll their Rs, so "Rhonda" sounds much more beautiful over here than at home. If there is an A in a name, it's pronounced "ah" not "ay." So "Nadeen" is so much more sophisticated sounding, in my humble opinion.

Anyway, here's the word cloud. Enjoy.

Vicariously yours,

p.s. I create my word clouds using wordle. I ::heart:: wordle

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