Tortured by your name


How many of us have had problems with names? I bet most of us. Sometimes people say it wrong, some time they spell it wrong and sometimes they pronounce it wrong. The problem may be different but the end result is the same. Your name is butchered.

If you are in a country with English as primary language and you happened to have a non English name then you are in deep trouble. The same happens the other way too. I have had friends with Spanish names and their names get screwed up every time they are among non Spanish speaking people. For e.g.: Letter J in Spanish sounds as H in English (Jose–>Hosae), letter Y in Spanish sounds as J in English (Yula–>Jula).

Then there is another category where a nice name sounds funny in another language. For example I was watching this series called Outsourced in NBC sometime last year and I heard a guy with an Indian name Manmeet being called by an American as Man-meat.Lol.

Then there is the meaning of names in different languages. Most of us would have heard all the hoopla around Tom Cruise‘s daughter being named Suri. Suri actually has a lot of different meanings in various languages:

  • in Japanese suri means pickpocket
  • in an Indian dialect it means knife
  • suri (Surrey) a South England County
  • a Jewish form of Sarah
  • in Persian (Souri) it means red rose
  • in Hebrew princess

Whoa! Who knew one name could have so many different meanings.

One of my friends did a lot of research before naming his baby. He had moved to US recently and came from a non English speaking country. He wanted to name his kid in his native language but at the same time did not want people to pronounce the name in a funny manner. So after short listing names which will sound right in English, he finally picked a name for his son but it turns out that it’s a popular name for girls in English, only thing he wasn’t aware of it. It was way too late by the time he came to know about it. Poor kid!!

A third category is when your name is right but people call it wrong. I have English name and almost 99% of people have pronounced it right so far and there is also no confusion in my name like the other two categories described above. But I do have a name problem. I go by my middle name. All my life my friends and family know me by my middle name. No one calls me by the first name but at my current work somehow people picked up my first name and even though I correct them they are still sticking to it. I just can’t get them call me by my middle name. It’s like I have a new identity now. I am one person at work and a different person outside of work.

Over the years I have realized that no matter how simple and straightforward your name is, people still do make mistake pronouncing it. Take for example Christine or Kristin or Christian. People often get confused with that. Same goes for Daniel or Danielle. And then there are names which can be used for both genders with the same spelling like Dominique which makes it hard for people to guess whether to expect a male or a female to show up for an interview. 🙂

The best way to deal with it is to ignore it. You cannot go around correcting every person you come across in your life neither can you change your name just because others find it hard or funny. As long as you like your name there is no reason to change or worry about it. Just enjoy while the rest of the world tries to get it right. 🙂

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