Names Become Tongue-Twisters at Graduation

Imagine having to read aloud hundreds of names at a college graduation ceremony. Sounds tedious…but not too bad, right?

Now imagine going up against forenames like Baitnairamdal and Nokuthula, and surnames like Ndabashimiye and Wojcikkoba.


This is exactly what college deans all over the nation have to contend with every spring. Here are a few tricky examples (and pronunciations) from Justin Pope’s recent article “Commencement readers cram to prep for tongue-twister names.”

Baitnairamdal Otgonshar
Nokuthula Sikhethiwe Kitikiti
Shadi Rajai Zumut
Udochukwu Chinyere Obodo
Bat-NAI-ram-dal OT-gone-shar
No-oo-TOOL-a SEE-kay-tee-way Ki-tee-ki-tee
SHAH-dee Rah-JAH-ee ZOO-muht
Oo-DO-chu-koo CHIN-yea-ray Oh-boe-doe

(The above names are Mongolian, Zimbabwean, Arabic and Nigerian, from top to bottom.)

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