I’ve Been Mispronouncing My Own Name for 20 Years

I realize now that it’s my responsibility to present my authentic self to others

Shruti Das
Published in
6 min readNov 28, 2019


Illustration: Vrinda Zaveri

MyMy name is Shruti; it’s pronounced [shru-thī], not [shroo-tee]. As a Sanskrit word, “Shruti” originates from the Vedas found in Hinduism meaning “lyrics” or “that which is heard.” As a name, “Shruti” is seen as canonical in Hindu texts, seen as revelations coupled with unquestionable truths.

When I think about my name now, I cherish the cultural context that goes along with it. But it’s been a long journey of accepting my own cultural identity that’s gotten me to this point. Now, I’m finally addressing something that I’ve been struggling with for quite some time.

Flashback to elementary school. Every year when the first day of school rolled around, a new set of teachers would take turns consistently interpreting my name as [shroo-tee]. I didn’t have the courage to correct them when all my peers already knew me as [shroo-tee]. The path of least resistance was to allow a mispronunciation that’s stuck for years to just keep on going. I had convinced myself that it was easier and, therefore, it must be the more natural way of saying my name.

And so my habit of code-switching began.

Molding to my environment was great for the people I was with, but where would I draw the line for myself?

Code-switching is “the holistic process of assessing a situation and presenting ourselves in the way that we deem most appropriate for the given context” according to Logan Browning, the lead actress in Dear White People. It means we silence a part of ourselves just so we don’t offend a majority of people, thereby making them more comfortable in our presence. It’s a habit that most minorities are familiar with and often fall back on without even noticing, myself included. I lived like a chameleon shifting my language, my tone of voice, my body gestures, and even modifying…