No More Guesses at How to Say a Name

    No More Guesses at How to Say a Name
    Photo: Getty Images/iStockphoto

    This is the VOA Special English Technology Report.

    A new online service offers a simple way to let other people know how to say your name correctly. It lets others hear you say it yourself in your e-mail.

    Today, more people from different cultures work, live and study together. Some worry that having a difficult name could limit them. Just ask Sheetal Dube. She and her husband came to the United States from India seven years ago.

    SHEETAL DUBE: "My name, Sheetal, is a very common Indian name and in India people would just know how to pronounce it. But I've been working here in the U.S. for some time and I realize people find it hard to pronounce. They haven't heard it before."

    Ms. Dube was a user experience consultant for technology companies. She now owns a new company called Audioname. She came up with the idea after doing a presentation with someone she worked with.

    SHEETAL DUBE: "My colleague was Mary and it was very easy for everyone in the room to say, you know, 'Mary's findings showed this.' But it's very difficult to say 'Sheetal's findings showed this.' So that's where this idea really stuck in my head. It's like, you know, what if I just have an audio name and, you know, I put it in my e-mail and they have a chance to hear it before they meet me?"

    Ms. Dube presented her idea at a business development conference in Portland, Oregon, earlier this year. It won the top award at the event called Startup Weekend Portland.

    SHEETAL DUBE: "I realized it was not only me who had a difficult to pronounce name, but a lot people actually had faced that awkward moment where they meet someone else and, you know, they don't know how to pronounce their name."

    The service is free. Ms. Dube hopes her idea will help make introductions a little easier.

    SHEETAL DUBE: "I went ahead a created a basic Web application where people can go and, you know, record their name in their own voice. And that gives them a little audio file which sits in a Web address which they can actually go and put in their e-mail signature, in their Facebook, on their LinkedIn, on their website. So any place that they interact with other people, basically they can have this audio pronunciation next to their name."

    The Portland Seed Fund chose her idea as one of one hundred twenty-six startups to receive money and mentoring support from experts. Ms. Dube left her job to start The site has been live since the middle of September.

    Marketing specialist Larry Chiagouris is the author of "The Secret to Getting a Job After College." He advises people with really difficult names to consider using a nickname in their job search. Sheetal Dube says she heard advice like that while researching her idea. She thinks a service like Audioname offers a better choice.

    There are also sites like where people can learn how to say names from around the world. On our site,, you can find a link to VOA's own Pronunciation Guide to names in the news.

    And that's the VOA Special English Technology Report, written by June Simms. I'm Faith Lapidus.