October 11, 2023
Hetal Jani grew up “despising” her name and considered changing it as a child after countless instances where non-South Asians would butcher the pronunciation. The two-syllable name also didn’t lend itself to shortening (despite her best efforts), so she learned to live with hearing incorrect pronunciations for much of her life.
She felt like “two different people” when hearing her name correctly versus all the versions that weren’t. “I can tell that you don’t want to actually get to know who I am if you’re not going to ask me,” she added.
Though South Asians might have shortened their names to appease those unfamiliar with South Asian languages in the past, they have begun to reclaim longer versions. For many, a shortened name isn’t as much about assimilation as it once was.