Graduation Checklist

Spring 2022


Name Pronunciation at Commencement

Dear Graduating Seniors,

My name is Matt Pearson, and I teach in the Linguistics department. As one of the student marshals for Commencement this year, it is my job to read the names of graduating seniors as they walk across the stage. I want to make sure I pronounce your name correctly, so if you think that there is a chance (however small) that I could mispronounce your name, please contact me as soon as possible to let me know the correct pronunciation.

This is especially important if you have an unfamiliar name, but even common names (e.g., "Megan" or "Kara") often have variant pronunciations. If you have ever had to correct the way someone says your name, that's a good sign that you should contact me. If you have a foreign name, that's totally fine: I'm a linguist, I can handle non-English sounds.

Also, note that unless you tell me otherwise, I will read out your full name as it will appear on your diploma. If you have special instructions about how you want your name said – for instance, if you want me to omit your middle name, or use a preferred name – please let me know. Make sure that I say your name the way that you, your parents, and your family and friends want to hear it!

You can provide me with the pronunciation of your name in one of the following three ways: 


We have set up a website where you can record how to pronounce your name. The site works best with Chrome.


Send me an email at with an explanation of how to pronounce your name. The following are some options for how to convey the pronunciation of your name in an email:

  1. Provide me with an informal description of how to pronounce your name, or an approximate phonetic spelling. Something like this is fine: "The name Matthew Pearson is pronounced MATH-you PEER-sun". Use capital letters to indicate where the stress goes. Use rhymes if necessary to make the pronunciation extra-clear. (For instance, if your last name ends in "-stein", does it rhyme with "mean" or with "mine"?)
  2. If you happen to know the International Phonetic Alphabet, send me an IPA transcription of your name: [ˈmæθju ˈpiɹsən]
  3. Alternatively, record yourself saying your name and email the recording to me as a .wav file.
  4. If you have added a sound file with the pronunciation of your name to the IRIS directory, send me an email to let me know I can look on IRIS.
  5. If you have a Mandarin name and would like me to pronounce it with the tones, send me an email with the Pinyin spelling of your name with the tone markings included.


Stop by my office hours and say your name for me in person. My office hours this semester are Mondays 12:00-1:30 and Wednesdays 4:30-6:00, in Vollum 313. If you would like to say your name for me in person but you cannot make it to my office hours, send me an email and we can arrange to meet over Zoom.

Many thanks, and see you at Commencement!