So what’s so special about a name? (Guest Commentary)

For years, new Canadians have abandoned hard-to-pronounce birth names – let’s end that
By Vigen Nazarian
|Canadian HR Reporter|Last Updated: 09/11/2011

Thirty years ago, I came to Canada in pursuit of higher education and a new life. I had three priorities — study hard, have my family join me and become a Canadian citizen. My mission was to achieve my goals as fast as possible by tapping into the world of resources Canada had opened up to me.

But, like many others who make a life in a new country, I soon realized my name — specifically its pronunciation — was an obstacle to communication. People did not know how to wrap their tongues around it.

I’ve been called Why-gen, Vee-gen, Vigan and a few other variations I am too embarrassed to mention. At one point, a university friend decided to baptize me with a new name, Vik with a K, claiming my real name was too difficult to pronounce and Vik was close enough. I relented, accepting this new handle would deliver me from ongoing “name abuse” and my peers and professors would accept me with less prejudice — even though I was, and remain, very proud of my Armenian heritage and name and did not want to give it up. In the end, I relented, accepting my Vik identity to remove barriers and claim greater advantage in achieving my goals.