You Say Your Name, How?

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Date: January 31, 2020
Time: 2:00 p.m. - 4:00 p.m.
Location: Maccabees Traders #10302 | Map
Maccabees Building - 5057 Woodward
Detroit, MI 48202
Category: Lecture


During graduation ceremonies at many colleges and universities, those graduating “march”; graduates walk across the stage as their name is announced. The names are often read by someone who does not know the graduate personally and, in most cases, has never seen the name before. The graduate provides the reader, just before the name is to be read, with a card containing the name and, in many cases, a way to provide help in pronunciation. Since an extremely small number of students study phonetics, they use whatever means they have to convey the pronunciation of their names. The present talk is a preliminary study of how some 2650 students at one graduation ceremony provided this linguistic help to readers. We will discuss how the data were gathered, and set out an overview of our findings to date, with a preliminary discussion how and why these linguistically naive students may have made the choices they did in setting out pronunciation guidance.


Margaret E. Winters is former Provost and Professor Emerita of French and Linguistics. Her research interests are in historical semantics and the history of the Romance languages, both within the framework of Cognitive Linguistics, as well as the history of the field of Linguistics. She has published in these fields in journals and volumes of collected papers. She has also published two editions of Old French courtly romances and, this year, Cognitive Linguistics for Linguists with Geoffrey Nathan. A native of New York City, she attended Brooklyn College. She did graduate work at the University of California Riverside (M.A.) and the University of Pennsylvania (Ph.D.).

Geoff Nathan is Professor Emeritus in the Linguistics Program and former WSU Chief Privacy Officer. He has a doctorate in Linguistics from the University of Hawai’i, and has taught at the University of Montana, Southern Illinois University at Carbondale as well as Wayne State. His area of specialization is phonetics and phonology, and he was responsible for introducing these areas to Cognitive Linguistics, in part through his phonology text, Phonology: A Cognitive Grammar Introduction, as well as his very recent co-authored monograph. In addition to phonetics and phonology, he is interested in the political and social issues involved in computing, particularly privacy and security.


Haiyong Liu




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