The Foreign Name Struggle Is Real
Yesterday was my post telling parents to quit naming their kids stupidly. It turned out to be EPIC, with 300 comments on it (now: 600) and counting (record for this blog). And y’all might have made my site crash for a good hour yesterday with foolery. Folks acted UP in those comments. I spent way too much of my day being horrified and outraged. Then I ran fresh out of outrage and cackled endlessly. The comments of that post win the internets.
Anywho, all those names were a mess because parents wanted to be creative (read: extra for no reason). But the real name struggle is the foreign name one. Those of us without standard English names because of where we’re from, have to live with folks mispronouncing our names EVERYDAY. And our names don’t mean “My parents loved apostrophes” so we actually have double right to feel salty when our names are butchered beyond recognition.
I sound elitist, and for this purpose, I’m perfectly fine with it.
Mind you, I understand that some foreign names are really difficult for others to say because of linguistic differences, and all of that. African, Asian and some European names ARE tough to say. I’m not saying that folks should KNOW how to pronounce them. People can at least try, though.
I’m 100% Nigerian and my full name reflects it (plus the fact that I have 4 middle names). Specifically, I’m Yoruba. I love my culture and people, and my name, which I wasn’t so fond of. And I’ll tell you why. *lays on Dr. Phil’s couch*
I used to hate the first day of school, when the teacher would be taking roll, and get to “Ajayi, *******”. He/she would not even say my name before I knew it was me because 1) I knew I was always the first on the list and 2) the teacher would always look up and just say “This is a hard name.” This is when I would say “It’s probably me”, and dread having to pronounce my unique name because all the kids had the same reaction. They’d all look at me with very interesting expressions, and eyebrows raised with curiosity. I used to wish I had a simple name like “Lauren Jones” because I got sick of standing out on the first day of school. AND my teacher would ask “Is there something else I can call you?” because learning how to say my first name correctly was just too cumbersome, I guess. This is why most people outside my family know me only as Lovette or Luvvie.
*gets up from Dr. Phil’s couch*
The crazy part is that my last name isn’t even HARD. It’s one of the easier Nigerian ones. AJAYI. And I always say “It’s pronounced just like it’s spelled.” Still, folks look at it and go “Ay-jay.” Don’t ignore my “i”, bro! I was on the phone with customer service the other week and spent 3 minutes teaching the rep how to say my last name. She said: Ah-jay. Ah-ya-jee. Ah-jay-ya. Ma’am, it is Ah-JAH-YEE. Nebmind!
This is why I don’t like for people to even touch my first name. You can’t say my last name right, you’re just gonna MURK my 1st name into oblivion. I still remember my high school graduation and how my vice principal butchered my name. He had no excuse, especially since he had the phonetic spelling written on a notecard AND we practiced the day before. He called my name and the only reason I know it was mine is because I was next in line. I might have looked around momentarily for the person who he just called. I was all “Dang her name is ugl… oh. That’s me.” (-___-)
I gotta say. Feeling like you have to go by another name so the world doesn’t make your beautiful real name some ugly version SUCKS. But this is the real foreign name struggle. We do typically choose to go by different names so we don’t spend all our days correcting people.
Yoruba folks have easier names to pronounce than Igbos. I REALLY feel for them. When your name is “Enwelumokwu,” I know that is MURKED.
Tips on dealing with foreign names:
* Act like you care to know the correct pronunciation
* Don’t shorten our name without getting our permission first (oftentimes, we’ll tell you if we do)
* The key to pronouncing long names (and really, any name) is taking it PER syllable. SO… “Enwelumokwu,” an Igbo name, is prolly pronounced “AIN-WAY-LOO-MOHK-WOO.” But most people see that name and just go “Ummm… yeah nawl.” Some of our names really aren’t hard if you break them down this way.
Or am I expecting too much of people?
In spite of all this, my kids will probably have Nigerian first names. I’ll just teach them to understand that they have it for a reason, and to be prideful of it. And if someone ever asks them “Can I call you something else?” they should
respond with a dropkick to their shins say “No. This is my name. Call me my name.” And then dropkick them.
I have a very rich culture, and I love everything it stands for. Our names tell a story and they speak about the path our parents want us to lead.
For those of us in the struggle, do you insist folks learn your name or do you go by an English one? For others who see foreign names, what are your thoughts?
P.S. For those who want to know how to pronounce specific foreign names (well, West African), leave a comment and I’ll break it down phonetically for you.
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Welp, my Gubment is Nadia (pronounced Na-dee-ya) I was named after the Romanian Olympic Gymnast (1st & middle). Magically, it gets turned into Natalie, Nautica, Nadeya etc..I feel even worse for my lil bro Jephthah lol (pronounced jep-pa-tha). I used to tell folks my name was Amy lol I thank my aunt for this lol. Ironically, once I got to High School, there were 3 Nadias. The Mexican Nadia and I spelt our names the same way, the other one was Nadya. Imagine the confusion..
I have spent the better part of my day reading the funny names post. I have cackled enough to live another hundred years!
As an African,I feel your pain.Our names get massacred. Thank God for my English name.
SN. Have you read Ajayi and the witchdoctor?
Shiks, so have I lol. I laughed so hard my 3yr old tried to shut me up..
I understand how you feel. I have a VERY regular name and it was butchered from day 1. My last name is a regular word and bamas STILL mess it up. They add letters and rearrange letter like the Soul Train Scramble Board. It’s annoying and I ALWAYS correct folks.
I have a friend who’s first name is Marylouise. She said one time this dude asked her can he call her “Mary” and she said, “Sure, can I call you Frah?” (His name was Frank)
Because my name has been butchered like a side of Kobe beef all my life, as a teacher I ask kids how to say their name if I’m not sure, and I tell them to not let anyone mess up their name. I’ve gotten really good with the African names, and I do just like you said, chunk it up. It’s really not hard when you do it like that and once you do, then you can just roll it off your tongue like nothing.
ROFL at “the Soul Train scramble board!”
I feel you. This has been my struggle ever since I married a man with a difficult last name. To me it isn’t that hard. Yur-sik. Yursik. But to other folks, that arrangements of letters just throws them off. People be like…. “Yurski?” Or they make the oft-repeated joke “you’re sick? Sorry to hear that.”
Most often folks can’t spell it right the first time even though there are just 6 letters involved. Then when I tell them how it’s spelled they will sometimes add a W for no apparent reason. At the pharmacy one time I almost had to fight the pharmacist because my pills weren’t ready. Turns out they were there — under Wrsik. REALLY. And these folks are pharmacists.
I’m glad my first name is simple. My last name, however is French and has been butchered all my life. Sainson (pronounced Sayn-son) has been Sampson, Swainson, Swanson…like where are yall seeing w’s, m’s and p’s???? I always wanted to be a Smith. Then I married one and hyphenated my name LOL I couldn’t let go of my uniqueness.
Try the French last name “Duroseau”.
It was hell for me as a kid.
Well, I moved to France last August and its been smooth sailing ever since! LOL
I’ve never liked me first name, but I don’t really have a nickname so you have to call me Sabrina. I’ve been called Samantha, Sally, and Brenda…yeah, Brenda. Never did understand that.
You get Brenda too? I thought I was just talking too fast! I never liked my name either, but I don’t really liked being called Brina. Only family and close friends get that.
The worst joke I get is, Are you a good witch? Cause, you know, Samantha’s kid (no dummy, it was her twin sister) was Sabrina (no idiot, the kid was Tabitha)…or are you still a teenage witch? After a while, I started twitching my nose with my fingers use to watch the reaction…made a couple of people nervous!
At my confirmation, I had a standoff with the bishop over my first name. First of all, they almost didn’t want to let me receive my sacrament because I didn’t have a saint’s name, but my mother pulled the race card on them and all those priests fell back.
So my middle name is Terryl. It’s pronounced TEAR-ull. Not ter-RELL as most people immediately think.
But at the ceremony, the bishop said it wrong. I corrected him and he gave me this “bish keep it moving look”. But I just stood there like, try again. Which he did. And got it wrong again. We went back and forth four times before he said it right. And he hated my guts by the time it was over.
At the reception afterward, he took a photo with every child that had been confirmed except me.
bwahahahahaha!!! omg i’m in tears over that story. you’re so wrong for that, you went all the way back around to being right. bishop was hating!
Soooo try Edwige….and my last name though easy for french speaking Africans oh and native french (bleh) has been massacred my whole life. Edveej is how you say my name but nope people have either ignored it or given me nicknames. I go by another name for the non-africans or well the non french massives because not hearing my name said right is annoying…then again the w said as a v confuses everyone…*shrug*
My fiancée’s name is Edwige Nadège Ngo Ngueda 😉
Ajayi – I had pronounced it correctly before I even saw the phonetic spelling! Yay!
But seriously – it just goes to show some folks are lazy-minded, and do not take the time to learn the name and be able to pronounce it properly. Also, there is a level of respect shown when you take the time to actually understand the importance of the correct pronunciation.
So Luvvie – much respect, guhl!
EXACTLY! Folks just don’t want to make the effort. But kudos to you!
My little brother has a Nigerian dad, he the first born and a son so he adopted his dads name. No real say from my American mom only that ONE of his middle names be Emmanuel. I like his name and I love that it has meaning and that he’s in Nigeria learning about his Nigerian side. My bro has 4 names, we just call him Ak. But his name means “Born to be great.” And we pray that it’s so.
like you i’m also yoruba and my name got butchered in school and still gets butchered to this day. my first name has 5 letters. Tunde. perhaps you can get it wrong the first time you hear it. although i don’t know how you haven’t heard the name Tunde before. there’s like a million Tundes in the world. its a unisex name. its pronounced Tune-Day. i don’t understand what’s so hard about that.
my children will have nigerian names as well. when my brother gave his daughter an american first name (middle and last names were still yoruba) my parents had a fit. i was like you have to understand that her mother is american so she has a say so in this as well.
Right. Your name is common but you know people live in bubbles. Even so, what’s so hard about Toon-day? Nothing, thats what!
Yep Toon Day.
You know this reminds me of a time I was getting my nails done at the Vietnamese shop (not they’re not all.Chinese but that’s another topic for another day). I asked the young lady her name, and she gave me a very generic Susy. I have her the sideeye of life, and was like no. What is your REAL name? She was so shocked that I would care enough to ask her that. She told me, and since then, she was called by her given name not some Anglo crap to soothe the American clients. I have always said that I don’t care if my name is kugichagulia adebisi Jones, then dambit you will pronounce it correctly. And no you can’t call me kuji as a nickname. Fugg you buddy. My name is super simple. Angel. And folks still either want to call me ang, Angela, or what’s worse than 15 blazing hellfires…angie. *bristle* call me Angel, please.
LOLLLLL @ Kugichagulia Adebisi Jones. LAWD!
Man know I late to this post, but had to comment on this one. I just had this same convo with my friend Angel today. She has a customer that insists on calling her Angela no matter how many time she corrects him
my gov’t name is maya, pronounced my-ah. i already know it’s got an indian meaning, a hebrew one, a russian one, yeah it’s all exotic-like.
you would think, with maya angelou already being famous by the time i came along, that my name would be easy for folks. apparently not. especially not older southern black folks. to them i’m myra, mayra, may-ah, mee-ah, i’ve even been called maria….
this is why i wanted to be called crystal or jennifer as a child.
You would be surprised..my name is Jennifer, and my name recently was pronounced Jinnifer. I was ready to fight somebody!
My name is Maiya, too. I’ve gotten Myra, Myrna, Maria, Mariah, Mary & others. Lady at work called me Mia the other day & I ignored her. Someone finally corrected her & only then did I acknowledge her.
Best/worst butchering has been Minor. Yes, a client actually called me Minor. Addressed a letter to Minor and everything. Smh…
My name isn’t even foreign and I still get murked every time! I feel your plight Luvvie!
I have never had a very difficult time pronouncing foreign names. The times I have come across a name I think I might mess up I always use it as an ice breaker. Like I’ll openly sound it out and try to put it all together even when I haven’t gotten it perfect the person whose name it is usually seems pleased that I actually gave it a real try. That being said, my First and last names are amazingly easy but growing up and even now people always jacked it up. Adding -sh and and all types of phantom syllables and even just straight calling me a different name. It is the most annoying thing in the world. It’s as if the person is saying “you don’t matter that much, so I don’t need to take the time to actually know your name. So to me it is a matter of respect to learn how to say a person’s name correctly.
Even if your name only has four letters people will mispronounce it. My name is Dana. People call me Dina, Donna, Diana… I mean. It’s a real easy name and people just don’t give a…It’s crazy.
A doggone shame.
As you all can see my first name is Rose, a very simple and common name. I get call Rosa, rosie, rosita, rosalina….everything but Rose. Plz explain that to me?!
But… ok people are dumb.
Well my birthname (first, middle and last name) is entirely Arabic. I feel your pain. The first day of school for me from first grade. I use to give the teachers a hard time and let them struggle with pronouncing my name before I would raise my hand and take responsibilty for the name. The next question was always….Do you have a nickname? No. So what do your friends and family call you? Um HABIBAH… Ok Followed by Where are you from? I’m American. Ok well where are your parents from? New Jersey……All types of befuddled expressions spread across these ADULTS faces while I am trying to figure out why I have to justify my name. Sometimes depending on the individual, I will explain that I am muslim but most times I just sit back and let them try to figure it out. Even as an adult, I can tell potential employers are shocked when a Black woman enters for an interview with my name. Now that I am married, my last name is more “common” yet people are still confused by Habibah. Then once I tell them it means “Dearly Beloved” everyone comments that it is a beautiful name lol My two boys have very common names. Anyhoo your next entry should cover children with “common” names. I am sure they get their share of criticism too. People are always looking at me sideways when I tell them my son’s names are Daniel and Douglas like “chick how you goin name dem black boys Daniel and Douglas?” people have even asked how did you come up with Douglas…Say What? Craziness
Habibah’s so pretty!
my mom purposely named all of my brothers (Lee and Marcus) and my sister and I (Jacqueline and Adrienne) “regular” names. People still TEAR MY NAME UP! I get Andrea,Andrienne, and Andria….smh…The only people that pronounce my name right are the French and French-Africans..and I am 100% American and so is my mama!!
“Take responsibility for the name.” 🙂 I can see little Habibah, hunched down in her seat, raising her hand… 🙁
I have a three-letter last name that’s also pronounced exactly like it looks, but nooooo, we all introduce ourselves, “Daw, D-A-W, rhymes with ‘law.'”
Well my name is the phonetic, Americanized version of Sade…..
……..and folks still mess it up -___________-
Womp to them. Really.
This is one I can relate to a lot. My father is Nigerian–my middle and last names reflect this. They have been BUTCHERED to the high heavens from day one. It really doesn’t help that my last name has a silent consonant that people are determined to say cuz they don’t know any better.
As such I have 2 personal rules: 1) I am patient when telling people how to pronounce my name cuz I want them to get it right. 2)I do the same when meeting other people and will ask them to repeat it several times if necessary cuz I’d want that same respect.
Nice rules. Yes indeed!
My name is Alba. I went through the same first day of school struggles as you Luvvie. I’d just wait til the teacher got to the D’s and wait for the pause as they were completely rendered dumb by those 4 letters. It’s Al-ba. Not All-ba. Not Albany. Not Alva, Alma, or any other nonsense you can envision. Jessica Alba’s non-dancing non-acting ass helped a little but good lawd it’s been a struggle.
Alba’s not e’em hard. At ALL!! 4 letters that make sense together. Chile…
“Some of our names really aren’t hard if you break it down this way.
Or am I expecting too much of people?”
Your expectations may be a little high. People just decide to name you whatever they feel that day, gubment name be dayumed! If they can mess up a short “simple” name like Tori, you know anything over three syllables is getting mangled.
Yeah maybe I am expecting too much. *sighs*
I’m pretty use to people messing up my last name, the G can be pretty difficult if you skipped that day in school when they went over the difference between a hard sounding G and a soft sounding G. But how you mess up Angela is beyond me, and it happens often. I’ve had some one tell me ” oh, what a unique name”. Are you serious! This can’t be life, smh.
I feel your pain, I feel your pain.
I’ll admit that when I was a kid I was pretty unaware of the importance of names. When I got to college, though, I realized that a lot of people had trouble pronouncing my name because their native language (Spanish, Hindi, and Vietnamese, mostly) didn’t have the “th” sound (and boy, my name is *made* of “th.”) My friends and teachers struggled to say my name right, and I loved them for it! From then on, I’ve always made a special effort to get names right. I’ve also been patient about people who don’t say “th” getting my name wrong. No big deal. When native English speakers butcher it, though, I get annoyed.
Exactly! Native English speakers misspelling Meredith need to be dropkicked.
Well my name is Crystal so I don’t share your struggle, but the number of people who try to throw an “h” or a “k” in my name pisses me off TO NO END! IT’S CRYSTAL! JUST PLAIN CRYSTAL, LIKE GLASS!
I hear you!!! There are approximately 1,674 ways to spell Christi and my version is always last. All I ever wanted was a bicycle license plate, but all they had was “Kristy.” Sigh.
AH YES! The license plate. REAL concerns during childhood. You walk into a store and everyone finds their name on the shelf while you’re just standing there looking salty. MMHMM!
Chile, that license plate struggle was real! They had every incarnation of Kelly in the world…..’cept mine. I got one and drew, with permanent marker, two “E’s” on the end. It was ghetto as hell, but it was my name. And the double letters made my school years rough. Teachers would always go “kee-lee? kee-lee?” Mind you, there were always like 12 other Kelly’s in the class, all spelled different ways, but MINE had to be KEE-LEE. How is is that you see Kellee, but disregard the Kell part and go straight for Kee? I even had a piano teacher spell my name Kheelee for our recital program. The HELL?!?! How are you going to add a WHOLE consonant to justify your mispronunciation? The only person I ever allowed to change my name was my Spanish teacher, because she was older, and she just couldn’t let go of the Kee. So, I let her turn my middle name (Elaine) into what she called the “Spanish version” of it (Elena), and it was all good. And the hubby’s last name has made my name all kinds of madness. It’s pronounced Huff–and I always say “Hough like Rough”, not Hew or Hoe or How–but I understand that confusion. True story: Some one at the bank called me “Kee-lee Hoe” I wanted to hit a wall slide. :-/ So, be encouraged. Americans can’t pronounce American names either (well, technically, Kellee is Irish or Gaelic or something, but you know what I mean). People are dumb.
I know I’m all kinds of late, but Lord you touched me. My name is Kellee too and the massacre throughout life had been real!
I’m sorry but if you can’t pronounce CRYSTAL and you’re a native English speaker, you’re a bit dense. SMH.
Don’t kill me for posting 3 times in a row, iPhone kept giving me errors
It’s all good. I cleaned up the extras.
OK, so I clearly have a no-confusion name, although my maiden name is Greek and that confused every person I ever met, but anyway. For those of you that do have foreign names, what IS the best way to approach it when you aren’t sure how to pronounce it? Typically, I would say “I’m sorry, I’m not exactly sure how to say your name correctly and I don’t want to butcher it. Can you help?” Is that obnoxious? Or is it better to attempt it and be corrected? I am not afraid to admit my own phonetic weakness, lol, but would hate to offend, which is why I’d be hesitant to point out my struggle. Does that make sense? Like, I wouldn’t want the other person to feel weird that I couldn’t pronounce their name… I think I’m overthinking it… lol
You can just ask straight out “So how is your name correctly pronounced?” It doesn’t offend at all. You can make a real attempt and ask to be corrected too. We just don’t want folks to GIVE us nicknames or insist on calling us something else.
I usually just ask if there is another name you prefer to go by.
“I’m sorry, I’m not exactly sure how to say your name correctly and I don’t want to butcher it. Can you help?” IMO, this is the perfect response. You’re showing you care about learning how to pronounce their name. Now, if you have to ask or mispronounce my name after knowing me for an extended period of time, that is a problem.
OK, thanks! I think I was worried that pointing it out would be like saying “UM YOUR NAME IS WEIRD!” lol.
My name is Aramide and the foreign name struggle is def SO real. I’m Nigerian but my Mom’s African-American. Did that give me the opportunity to get an American name? NOPE! My name is straight up all Yoruba through & through. My nickname (Dee Dee) is so made up, my babysitter gave it to me when I was little, cause she clearly didn’t want to be running around after a 2-yr-old saying, “Aramide! Aramide! Aramide!” I used to be TOO jealous of my big sister’s American name (Simone). Like, I couldn’t get one Mom & Dad? For why? *sigh*
Now that I’m older I try to introduce myself as “Aramide” first to test the waters. It really depends on how I feel and how I think the person or people will react. So burdensome. I used to ask folks do you know the song, “Oh Happy Day”? That’s how my name is pronounced, that same melody. “Oh Happy Daaay! Ah-rah-me-daaay!” lol! Too sad!
I’m gonna be on TV in a couple weeks and I’m terrified. Not that it’s live TV (well, that too) but b/c of my NAME! What should I have them introduce me as my fellow foreign name strugglers (and errbody else)? “Aramide” or “Dee Dee”? Or God forbid, my blog/twitter name, “The Sassy Peach”? *face palm*
I think Aramide is really pretty! Make them call you that on TV!!
I never heard you say your birth name, but I was close with the pronunciation. I had the accent on the wrong syllable.
Aramide is a beautiful name! *going to look up the meaning in case of future little ajs.*
I LOVE your name! And I didn’t know a babysitter is who started calling you Dee Dee. Lawd… But yes, rock that beautiful yoruba name! I say you introduce yourself as “Aramide aka The Sassy Peach.”
My gubment name really is Jaeda Laurez. People say Laurez just fine, but the extra “e” in the middle of Jaeda causes all sorts of pronunciation shenanigans.
I don’t necessarily have a problem with quickly correcting them- I do however, have a problem with the inevitable “oh, like Jada Pinkett, hunh?” quip that will follow, as though they are the first person to ever make that particular joke. THAT gets the #wompwomp face every single time.
Is Laurez pronounced “Law-res” or “Law-ray?”
Whenever an adult says my last name correctly, the first time, I thank them. I’ve had people mess up my first name, Kenya. O_O
Btw, your first name isn’t hard to pronounce, to me, Luv. It’s pronounced as read…I might have the accent on the wrong syllable, though.
So people can’t e’em say KENYA? Oh.
Right! I don’t think my name is hard to pronounce but apparently I’m biased.
Shout out to another kenya. The strugggle is real when non-black folk (okay black ones too), don’t realize that you share the name with an African country.
By the by, I used to teach a girl named Nairobi and even SHE didn’t realize what our names had in common.
So, my first name is pretty simple, yet people always figure out a new way to spell it, adding extra vowels or leaving out a letter. My last name however always gets messed up, but I’ve gotten over being all b*tchy when someone mispronounces it. I do remember when my elementary school disciplinarian spelled my last name “Jewel” when it’s actually “Sewell.” How in the world do you confuse J and S?
“How in the world do you confuse J and S?”
I’d reply with “Dyslexia” but I’d be wrong.
I feel your pain! My name is Ryan. R-Y-A-N. I’ve been called Robin, Raven, Bryan (O_o) and I think even Rhonda once. That mess irks me beyond belief!!! And I won’t even get started on folks who don’t care enough to SPELL your name correctly much less PRONUNCE it right!! Folks just give me the blues sometimes… *heavy sigh*
How does one mispronounce RYAN?!? A shame.
i have this problem a lot. a lot of my job involves speaking to people on the phone and it annoys me every time someone asks for my name as i know they arent going to understand me. i get called graham on a daily basis!
I have me one of those foreign names–according to my mom. But she took it a step beyond and spelled it like it’s Spanish. Soooo, can I tell you how many HR people have called me and assumed I was completely fluent in Spanish? Yeah but NO!
In my travels, I’ve noticed that people don’t even TRY to pronounce names of people who are ‘dark’. Yet, they will turn tight around and not miss a beat in pronouncing Sarawhinskaviksh. Racists *does hand motion Martin Lawrence does in Boomerang*
So internationally, folks ain’t bout that inclusiveness? BOOOOO!!!!
I definitely relate. I think I tried going by my Yoruba name early on in elementary but somewhere along the lines I went back to my English name.
I occasional deal with bouts of guilt that I use an English name when my younger siblings go with the name our parents gave them, but now I’m so used to it that I can’t seem to get myself to that Barry to Barrack moment.
And look at me going ahead and spelling Barack wrong. /o\
Man… The struggle is real o. Let’s discuss how I’ve come up with schematics for how people should pronounce the SECOND half of my name. “it’s like the computer Dell, then add an A at end” or “you know the singer Dwele? Just without the w” or how about for complete simplicity’s sake “like a delay in the game.” granted none of those truly get at the best pronunciation but if you start talking about extra stuff you just gone get the duh face. Bu I still try to encourage proper pronounciation especially if they wanna know!
I too knew that when the class roll call came to a slight awkward pause, I was up. “Yeah, I’m present…” life long struggle but I wouldn’t change my name for anything in the world!! But let’s also talk about how folks start adding in letters!! My maiden name is Gomih, and I was getting Gomith (where’d that t from sir?) or Gomez (err do I look Hispanic to you ma’am?)… -__- here’s hoping my husband’s surname is easier… I can just hear it now… ” AH-luh-KEE-juh”… Like a la mode, eh? *BIG SIGH
Man… The struggle is real o. Let’s discuss how I’ve come up with schematics for how people should pronounce the SECOND half of my name. “it’s like the computer Dell, then add an A at end” or “you know the singer Dwele? Just without the w” or how about for complete simplicity’s sake “like a delay in the game.” granted none of those truly get at the best pronunciation but if you start talking about extra stuff you just gone get the duh face. Bu I still try to encourage proper pronounciation especially if they wanna know!
But I too knew that when the class roll call came to a slight awkward pause, I was up. “Yeah, I’m present…” life long struggle but I wouldn’t change my name for anything in the world!! But let’s also talk about how folks start adding in letters!! My maiden name is Gomih, and I was getting Gomith (where’d that t from sir?) or Gomez (err do I look Hispanic to you ma’am?)… -__- here’s hoping my husband’s surname is easier… I can just hear it now… ” AH-luh-KEE-juh”… Like a la mode, eh? *BIG SIGH
Your maiden name is easier than your hubby’s name. Which means folks will prolly butcher it to pieces. They gon say stuff like Ah-HA-yi-jah. I can see it now. SMH.
My first name is very common in India. My mother actually got the name from a girl she knew. But in America it has been assumed as a “ghetto” “ya mama was doing to much” name (although there are no high commas in it, lol). So my struggle is two fold. People “can’t” pronounce it (hooked on phonics did not work for so many apparently) and they assume that I’m a hoodrat (my middle name is like, some crazy old lady name my mom got from a book…maybe she WAS doing too much). Do *I* know that my name isn’t just the kind of thing that could be the brand name for a rapper’s line of moscato? Yes of course, but its still plagued me all my life because other people don’t get it and you end up getting roasted like whats going on in the other post. (not being a sourpuss. I made myself look EXTRA dumb reading the comments and trying not to laugh on the el this morning).
However…my little sister has THE world’s most simple ass name (Lauren Elizabeth) and people still mess it up. She gets called Laura, Laurie, Lara, alladat. So I think everyone gets touched with this a little bit.
Sisthren in #TheStruggle. I feel your pain.
I agree that people will 187 your name or call you something completely different no matter if it’s common or not. So you got inability to sound out phoneticaly, laziness or just plain disrespectful… I grew up the being the only white person in class and the block at times and I was Jennifer or Jenny more times than I can count cause that’s the white girl name they thought I should have?!
My last name is Polish and has been pronounced a plethora of ways, with no hesitation to ask how it’s pronounced *sighs* I have longed for a last name like Thomas or Wright for many years lol!
Thomas doesn’t have as much personality as Janusak, doe. I like your name!
I don’t even have a difficult name but I am a foreigner and I get offended for people when there are pronounced incorrectly.
You must try damn it! This lazy “can I call you by something else” attitude is just rude! I am already getting verklempt about the situation. UGH
I’m going to go read yesterday’s post and comment now.
They just don’t try. Womp.
well here’s one for the gander…my name is simple, but because i am BLACK (i guess) or maybe because i was born during a time of creativity…i am ALWAYS asked how do i spell it…like with an “e” or “ie” or with one “f” or two…so i am always like its spelled the “regular” way Thanks!
My name is Charla. But, it’s always Carla or Charlotte from other people.
Mofos is just plain ole lazy! It don’t even matter what your name is. SMH
The Yoruba name struggle is so real. Teachers will look at my name, look up and make that disclaimer “I apologize in advance if I mess up any name” and that’s when I know they’ve stumbled upon my name. And to make it worse is I don’t go by my first name. Parents haven’t used it since i was probably 2-3 but since it’s on all my legal documents I have to pronounce it, hear them butcher it, tell them to call me by my middle name and then field a hundred questions about what does it mean, where are you from, do you speak african (epic side eye). That being said though, I love my name in it’s entirety. It has meaning that brings joy to my heart and God willing if I have children they will definitely have traditional Yoruba names and they love it!
You just spoke the struggle. The questions following the name on the first day of school are too much. “Do you speak African?” NAWL! Sat!
Ugh the Nigerian name struggle is all too real! The first day of school always gave me heart palpitations. My first name is actually Sarah, but I’ve gone by my Nigerian middle name all my life. I’m actually mixed with three different tribes, so I have an Uhrobo, Igbo, and Yoruba name. I go by my Uhrobo name, but of course no one ever says it right when they first see it since they don’t really have that sound in English. People always ask my why I don’t just go by Sarah since it’s “simpler,” but I love my name and its meaning, I wouldn’t trade it for anything else.
Don’t even get me started on the “do you speak African?” thing. The question I get even more often is “So do y’all live in a hut?” -_______-
Do you live in a hut?!?!?!? I think I just gave myself a headache side eyeing the monitor! That is way past freakin rude! That is down right ignant!
Yes! Yall have put my life struggle on the web. My name is Olaronke. Grew up being called Ronke. When my family moved backed to the states, I learned at the tender age of 9 that this struggle was going to be epic and never ending.
Since then, I have had most people call me Ronke but it’s just become easier to have them pronounce it “wrong key without the g”. It sucks. And I feel ashamed a lot of the time for giving in. But its just so much easier than having my name chopped and screwed so many times.
See y’all? THIS is why education (with serious emphasis on subjects like reading and oral English) to undergrad level needs to be mandatory in every country, especially the USA. My position is this: we all use the same goddamn Roman alphabet, so you have no excuse to mispronounce my Yoruba 5 letter name that is spelt just as it sounds. Especially after it’s been pronounced for you. But it’s like some fools don’t even try to *read* the word, just stare at the letters and mumble out any sounds that hits their heads.
Needless to say, even if they pronounce it right, muthaf**kers can never get the intonation right. *sigh*
Reading is fundamental! Some folks need to watch Sesame Street on their breaktime, for a refresher course. Upload it on TIVO or something.
This is valid.
“we all use the same goddamn Roman alphabet, so you have no excuse to mispronounce my Yoruba 5 letter name that is spelt just as it sounds”
My name isn’t a foreign name(it’s Karisa) but people still butcher it to death in spelling and pronunciation(Carisa, Carrissa, Clarissa…yada yada yada). It really erks the hell outta me when people try to do waaaayyyy too much with my name(see Clarrissa), anyhoo….As far as foreign names go, I do try to make an effort to pronounce them correctly. I work in a call center and when someone gives me a their name, and it’s a foreign name or just plain unusual(see Luvvie’s post from yesterday),I like to type it like it’s pronounced and how it’s supposed to be spelled….
You making that effort is appreciated.
I have learned to tell people “my name is Leila, like “Sheila” and Green, like the color.” They never forget it. You would be surprised at people who try to call me Layla and to add extra “e” to Green. I was named after my dad’s great-aunt. You have to be careful with a “colorful” last name. My mother could have easily named me “Kelly” or my brother “Hunter” or “Forest.” I have a friend who’s last name is Meadows. I told him we should open the “GreenMeadows” retirement home!
The fact that folks can’t spell “Green” is just…
I’m convinced folks are rude and lazy. My birth name is Jocelyn. Not difficult but I digress. I used to get upset with foreign students during my undergrad days. They would tell me their name is Sammy or Linda. I knew full well they were lying. So I would ask them to teach me how to say their birth name. I would at least make the attempt. However, yelling 17 syllables down a hall wasn’t efficient. They would be gone before I finished calling their name. I encouraged my international friends to make people learn something new. As a business student, I knew they wouldn’t be the first I encountered with a challenging name.
Now those hoodrat names? I have no tolerance for such foolishness. My soul aches and my pimp hand is ready to smack someone’s mama every time a read a name full of consonants and a sha on the end.
HAAA! Put down that pimp hand, Jocy! Please dont hurt nobody! LOL
LOL Jocy gon backhand slap em
Oh the foreigner’s struggle. I’m Haitian, and my name really really really is not that serious. My name is “Natalie” but it’s spelled the French way with an H “Nathalie.” These damn muggles just do the most because of that H. If one more person calls me Natalia, Nathan, or Nathaniel, I am going to have a fit…and don’t get me started on my last name, because that deserves a blog post of its own.
Folks call you Nathan? LAWD! I don’t understand.
The Igbo name struggle IS NOT A GAME! Seriously, some of the names just go above and bloody beyond. I knew a kid named, and I kid you not, Tupusienujehovahkpoyaike. That was just his first name.
Personally, I like to make people pronounce my first name, Akwaeke. Correctly. It is by force. I will correct them and wait. It actually makes me happy in a twisted way, I like to watch them suffer. Also, no one has been able to abbreviate it, so no one even tries *evil smile*
Ok GOTDAMB at that long name. Lemme see. Too-poo-see-e-noo-jay-ho-vah-po-ya-ee-ke. Yeah that’s a mouthful. Did he have a nickname or did folks call him that all the time?
Your first name. Is it Ahk-wah-ay-ke?
Best believe they called that child TJ #luls
Yup, but when spoken together, it ends up being Ah-Kway-kay. Roughly. I suck at phonetic spelling cos my brain still works in the Igbo alphabet sometimes lol
I’m married to an Igbo man and when we first met he told me his British first name but tested me with his last name Onyewuchi. He was surprised when I pronounced it 90% correct the first time.
When I’m doing business on the phone there are those who break it down phonetically and get it right, and I encourage them right there so they keep up the effort with the next “hard” name they encounter.
As for those who don’t take the time to properly pronounce someone’s name, it’s just a case of snobbery. Learn something different, it’s not that hard, fools! Stop with the disrespect. I especially hate those with the nerve to say, “I’m gonna have to call you something else”. Really? UUUGGGHHH!
Own-yay-woo-chee, right? Yes indeed. Folks just need to break it down and they can be great at pronunciation.
That’s it. It’s not rocket science and Hooked on Phonics is The Answer
I pride myself on pronouncing difficult names. I had a friend that was half Nigerian. Her name is Abiodun Omoigberai….a mouthful I know, but I pronounced it perfectly. Anywho, at graduation, a judge said Recruit Omoigburger..wtf..I died for her that day..
Recruit Omoigburger?? They didn’t even TRY! come on!
I sorta kinda have a foreign name (an alternate spelling of the name Siobahn). My name has a silent ‘e’ at the end that most people include when trying to pronounce my name. Or the ‘e’ is totally ignored and letters get rearranged and I get called Savannah. Most of the time I’d get called Sha-van or Sha-van-ee. I mainly get annoyed when people call me something that “is easier to say” or add extra letters that make no sense. I don’t see how a two-syllable name is so difficult to pronounce.
I pride myself on pronouncing difficult names. I had a friend who was half Nigerian. Her name is Abiodun Omoigberai. I said it perfectly the first time. Anywho, at graduation, a judge said ” Recruit Omoigburger” WTF…totally disrespectful, I died for her that day!
Yeah, my name got massacred at college grad too. LE SIGH
very simple name…JUST THREE LETTERS!!! …”mia”
I’ve been called “mya” “meera” “mi-mi” <– why make my name longer?????
My last name is French, creole to be specific and I have had to deal with having it butchered my entire life and have learned to be less pissed when it happens. My last name is Fuqua and to help people pronounce it when asked I always say ‘few as in a small amount kwa’ few-kwa. Still through out my school years they have mucked it all THE way up. Imagine a five year old graduating from kindergarten with anticipation only to have the name Traci Fuckaway called out for an entire auditorium to hear and me having to walk up to the stage so EVERYONE could see what Traci Fuckaway looked like!!! My face more resembled someone on the way to the gas chamber rather than a happy five year old graduating kindergarten. I still remember how that felt that day and I am damn near 40. Perhaps a couple of session on Dr Phils couch are in order! LOL!
Most often than not, I tell people my name is “Jazz,” for the simple fact I didn’t know “Jasmine” was so hard to pronounce and spell. -_- Sad thing is, they will still spell “Jazz” wrong. WTF is Jasz? I absolutely HATE when people pronounce my name as jazz-mine or Jazz-mean!
omg, THIS! I hate when people misspell or mispronounce Jasmine. Its the name of a flower, for Christ’s sake! And people automatically assume that I like to be called Jazz or Jazzy and I don’t. I’ve even had teachers and professors either butcher my name or shorten it. It’s beyond annoying. Its weird to me because I think my last name is the harder name- its Rollins, pronounced like Rah-Lens. Once they figure out who my daddy is, they get the last name right, but forget about my easy ass first name. But with all that being said, when I was a preschool teacher, I did teach the kids to call me Ms. Jazzie*, even though it was adorable when they called me Ms. Jasthmen lol. And there’s one little old man at my church that calls me Jazzmine because he says it sounds as fancy as I look lol.
*My godbrother came up with this spelling of Jazzie b/c he hadn’t made it to the point in school where you learn that Y can make the same sound as -ie or E lol. Tis cute :)*
I love my name & am seriously considering naming my daughter after me lol. My first name almost always gets messed up though. My family is from Haiti so my last name is Casimir. I just be real confused when people mess that up because they almost always say “Cashmere”. But seriously? Those two words are spelt completely different. Maybe I’m just missing something. But because I don’t like ppl calling me Tiana, Tatianna, etc. OR saying my name real fast cause they’re afraid I’ll hear them mess it up, I let them call me Tai (tie) or Tiny.
My name is Katrina….super simple right? Um, not in my schools where some girls had random accents and other random punctuations. Teachers would say Kat-rinn-ah, or Kay-Trine-ah and even one substitute was like Ka-Trine-ay. Like my name was just too simple….it COULD NOT be that simple to pronounce. I think its funny folks still ask me how to spell my name…
*stands up on desk, does a praise jig, drops to my knees, does a slow clap and screams “PREACH LUVVIE!!”, falls out and waits for an usher to give me some water and fan me*
My parents are from Ghana and named me Akua (Uh-kwee-uh)- girl born on Wednesday. I have been called Aqua, Akira, Kahlua, Shakira,and all manner of other things. My middle name takes up all of the blocks on any form that I feel out and my maiden name was long and hyphenated and people used to butcher it. I have pronounced my name for people repeatedly, spelled it phonetically, drawn pictures (no, really), and done everything within my power to get people to pronounce my name correctly. If you want to name your child QAZYAWQ and cut your eyes at me when I don’t pronounce it as “Quest.” I’m going to need you to get right with learning to pronounce Akua correctly. And no, you can’t give me a nickname because you can’t pronounce it. Open up your ears, listen, and learn.
i have several friends name akua, & several other ghanaian day names. i have friends with akan middle names that are beautifully spelled & pronounced. i absolutely canNOT take Kahlua from akua. i. can. NOT.
Kahlua was from one of my clients at work. My co-workers called me Kahlua for the next month. I get especially riled up with clients who can’t pronounce my name. I answer my calls, “Good afternoon, this is Akua.” YOU JUST HEARD ME SAY IT, BUT YOU STILL BUTCHER IT? Sigh.
ahhh, sister of mine. i have to admit i lowkey envy the fact that you’ve been able to marry out of our LAST name (which also takes up all 15 of the blocks on standardized forms if you include the hyphen – for the record, kids, there really are only fifteen spaces so you have to write clearly as i never had any room for crossouts!)
can we talk about people getting exasperated or saying cruel things to people with long last names, like your non-western name is something you’re actively doing to make them look foolish and they need to show you who’s really boss and that this is america? goddamn.
(By best total mess-up: a young – very fast – 400 meter female runner from Long Beach Poly: Akawkaw Ndipagbor. You tell me how to say that, lol)
L “E’van white folk get it” B
I have really enjoyed these two posts about names, so thank you. But do you know what I would love to have a post about? people who try to appropriate names from cultures and ethincities that are not their own, and then they screw up the spelling and/or pronunciation, often on purpose, and get angry when you point out that they have stolen and mangled the language of your people. I am of Irsih descent and we nearly lost our language and culture because it was made illegal for several hundred years. My family hid our ethnic identity for years because you couldn’t get a job if you were Irish. I had to study my own language at university to be able to have any understanding of it. It is not an easy language so it has been a struggle to gain any familiarity but I believ that it is worth it. And yet people seem to think that they can mangle and massacre that language and our names just to be cool?!!! I guess this fits neatly between your two posts. PLEASE don’t steal a name from a language and culture that you don’t belong to or understand. It’s incredibly disrespectful. And when I DO find people with these names, I have been known to tell them, your “alternate” spelling is NOT OK. There is no Y in gaelic, or J or K so you simply can’t just add them willy-nilly. There is no K in Caitlin, which incidentally is pronounced Coy-t-leen NOT Kate-lynn. There is no a at the end of Siobhan. There is no V anywhere in Irish. Please! Stop stomping your muddy boots all over my beautiful language! It was almost dead not that long ago, we have an uphill battle to keep it alive, mutilating it does not help!
I can understand your pain Luv, my name is very unique. I have never had my name pronounced right during roll call at school. I was named after a song and usually when people hear my name they start singing if they are familar with the song. You would think my mother, with her unique first name would have thought better for me, but thinking she could spell my name phonetically it would be easier. Instead I have a bunch of extra letters that arent needed o_______o
*goes to previous list to see if name is in comments*
And most people call me “My” which is fine unless its someone I don’t care for, then I tell them to call me by my full name
you are speaking my truth right now. from the school experience to never wanting to have to say it out loud to just giving folks an alternative. luckily everyone i was around, until the 3rd grade, had the same kinda long african names. so the foundation was set for me not to be ashamed of my name, just EXTREMELY frustrated by what people shamelessly did to it. they trampled all over my identity with their phonetic slicing & dicing. now, i MAKE E’RYBODY say it & say it right. & then they’re all like, “it’s so pretty, where’s it from?” or, “that’s so unique. it’s great your parents chose that for you.” i feel bad for my students, when we cover “I Am” at the beginning of the year & they discover their names have no meanings or that they don’t fit any rules for what blends do or learn that an apostrophe & an accent mark ARE NOT created equal.
lawd…give us free.
Well my last name is Adeleke so I feel the struggle too! Everything you said in this article has happened to me even the vice principal part. This was my life story verbatim! In high school when we had a substitute they’d start by saying “I’m going to call the roll.” Then they’d look at the list and see my name first and say “Never mind I’ll pass a sheet of paper around and y’all can sign your names.” For real though?! hmph that’s fine. Oh and once a teacher refused to pronounce my name and said I quote “I’d commit murder before I have to pronounce your name.” This happened in 6th grade. I didn’t know my name was that much of a problem -_____-
My first name is Kalyn, and I get called everything from Katelyn to Kaylee to Katherine… It’s irritating because I genuinely love the name. My middle name is Romaine, and I always get the comment, “Oh, like the lettuce?!” My response? “No, like the person.”
My moms middle name is Romaine! 😀
My first name is Malaka it’s Arabic. My wonderful parents left the “i” out to be different. Like there are a lot of Malaikas running around. My name has been butchered most of my life. Most common is Ma-lack-a and Ma-Kay-la. It’s Ma-LAY-ka. When I correct people they go “oh just like it’s spelled”. In school when the teacher got near my last name I would just raise my hand and say it correctly before they messed it up.
As a teacher, and a Black one at that, I’m particularly sensitive to the naming issue. While my name is classically English and pretty easy to pronounce (Alicia), I have many cousins who have, shall we say…unique names.
I remember them talking about coaches that said “I’m going to just call you Johnny or something,” and one of my cousins flipping out. “Don’t you let nobody call you out yo’ name! Ain’t no White man gon’ make a Toby outta you!” she said. And it stuck with me.
Which is why, every first day of school, I don’t call role.
I ask the students to tell me THEIR names.
And then I repeat their names to them.
And then I find the name that they said on my roll.
And when they say “You can say it however you want,” I always say, “Yeah…but what yo’ mama call you? ‘Cause that’s what I’m ‘a call you.” (Yes. I’m an English teacher, but I still talk to my students using my ‘home’ language…I can switch it up when I need to, though.)
I also teach “Things Fall Apart” every year. And every year I struggle with making the kids at least try to pronounce the Igbo names. “Say it like it’s spelled!” I always yell, whenever they try to get away with “Oh, yeah, that ‘O’word.”
O-konk-wo. The end. Next name.
There is no excuse for people who are not e’em trying.
Although, I might add that in naming my daughter I wanted to name her Nzuri…but I took the ‘n’ off the front because I didn’t want her to experience the roll-call pause.
People are still confused by Zuri.
And I always get “Oh…Zuri…like Tom Cruise’s baby?”
I’m an English teacher as well and I do the same every year. And I hate when the babies say call me what you want. ‘Cuz on the real I want to call some of them goats’ arses on some days but I can’t do that. I taught Things Fall Apart this year as well and they were tripping on Okonkwo also.
Lawd I know…and don’t even let them try Antigone, Oedipus or Torvald. 🙂 I’m glad someone understands!
My name gets butchered and its not foreign. My real name is Jasslyn. I get Jocelyn, Jossolyn, Jasmine etc. So I completely understand the struggle. In high school, my friends and I used to get a good laugh on the first day of school or when we had a sub- why? We all had either rough last names or a first name that people make harder than it has to be. ex. Jess Ratulowski, Me, Jess Valandingham.
I feel so bad for my little cousins-their dad is Nigerian. So even though their names are simple, they get butchered all the time. Edet II, Ima, Idara and Kere. ( I can see the last one being a struggle, but you cant say Ima? SMH )
I LOOOVE the name Jasslyn. As a Jasmine, I get that name too sometimes lol
I know my name isn’t foreign but can I say I feel your pain and I dont think my name is that hard please tell me if I’m wrong. Now I do have to say I’m a victim of a ghetto name. My dads name is Curtis and when I came he only had girls and thought I was gonna be a boy but he was wrong so he named me Cur-Trina after him (its all one word). In school I used to get an attitude when teachers called me Christina Kristen Kirsten Curtina (forgets 2nd r completely) or my favorite Katarina? In the third grade I promise you I told the teacher how am I gonna learn from you and you cant ever pronounce my name, you use all the letters. I got mt butt whooped too but I was done.
Okay so I have been reading comments over the last two days finding hard to get actually work done. Hilarious. Now if I had some cash for every time I’ve been called Coryanne, Coreen, Clorox, Lorraine, Kim and Kathy I’d have a nice nest egg. If I add on some $$ for the extra letters and the mispelling of my first name from colleagues, friends and relatives then the stacks would keep growing. But when your grandfather couldn’t even pronounce your first name Houston we have a problem.
Corynne! Your name rocks. How do they get Coryanne out of it??? That’s just foolish…
Because folks from the south often assume you are being named after a relative and added Ann as a flourish. Please. Don’t.
It’s funny because my gubment name is the shortened version of a Native American name. it looks simple as can be to me, but people of all stripes butcher it like a goat for Eid. They always ask for a nickname (Yount know me like that, so for YOU, I ain’t got na’an) or decide they just gon’ MAKE ONE UP for me, or just go on calling me the wrong name, which I always, ALWAYS ignore. I’m just not answering unless you called me what my mamm’nem named me, PERIOD.
Because of this, I’m really sensitive to other people’s names and I always speak up for the Naijas and Ethiopians at my job (and anyone else I meet elsewhere) when people get to fuggin up their names, cause y’all gon’ RESPECT US, dammit! I’m sorry but messing up people’s names and not caring enough to try is just so, so, disrespectful, to me. If you can’t call me correctly, don’t call me at all.
So my name is super easy name, but somehow in the last 5 or 6 years, people have been fucking my shit up and looking at me funny. It gets irritating and I honestly don’t get it. My name is not difficult son! People can’t seem to read anymore!
Also I work at a school and the majority of the teachers are white women, these heaux can’t pronounce shit and they aren’t even trying anymore. But the thing that kills me the most is that they complain to me when they can’t understand why people name their children that way. I’ve had to shut them down about that racist bullshit, most of the names they complain about have African, Arabic, Persian and Indian origins. Just ask the kids, they will tell you.
My name is Chamaree and it is pronounced EXACTLY how it’s spelled, Cha-mar-ree. I have been called Cindy, Kendra, Cameron and sometimes people don’t even try. I now exclusively go by Maree.
The classic name struggle I have it. It is pronouced Tah-Net. That “i” is just there to look pretty. When I introduce my self I actually spell it out.I got called Pat today after I said all that. Please have a seat \_ and rest your weary head. My dear friends can get away with calling me Net or Nettie but anybody else betta ask first because I’m not afraid to correct you like a 2 year old.
One of my buddies is Nigerian. His name is Nureni. People call him Noranny.
I have a simple name that people insist on mispronouncing. Marissa.
Not MarEEsa, Marisha, Mersa, Marcy….
The three syllable struggle is real!
You are not alone! I’ve gotten “Mar-ee-see-uh”, “Mareesa”, and even “Maurice”.
But what kills me is whenever you correct someone, they ALWAYS (at least for me) say “Oh, just like it’s spelled!”
*heavy ass sigh*
1. Igbos and African Americans need to be supervised when we name our children. #jussayin
2. There should be nothing problematic about the name “Nneka”. It’s simple. It’s five letters. But alas, it is a problem for many. lol
How DO you pronounce? I’ve only seen it written, but I’ve never heard it. Enlighten me please? Cuz I think its a beautiful name…
firstly, i work in the service industry, where people wear name tags or show me their id. i make an effort to pronounce every name i see. either i get it right and theyre pleasantly surprised, or i get it wrong and they respect me for trying. i even told one guy, “next time im gonna say it right. his name was digiacomo. havent seen him for months but i will not forget his name if i ever do see him again.
2. i had a person say my name was too long. it’s Joy. he called me Jo the whole time i knew him.
3. i feel you on the graduation name game. my fiance’s name is alanson. he wrote on the card, “uh lansen.” they still called him alan-son. also, his mother called me “joyce… no thats not your name, huh?” for the first few years we were together. you got alanson, but not joy. oh.
LMAO@ Joy being too long!
I actually had an uncle who called me “Melissa” until I was like seven. Why my parents never corrected him is beyond my scope of understanding.
I’m not foreign and my name is just a “hmm…that’s different. I think I’ll use that” type thing, but I can still understand the name struggle! My last name is Bethea. So whole name is “Tawn-yet Bah-thee-ah”. I’ve gotten all kinds of stuff “Tone-eeta”, “Tonetta”, “Tone-yet”…I think the problem is that my name has that kind of “I think I know how to pronounce it” look to it! But…usually people (especially the ones that aren’t my race! Sorry, it’s just my experience!) are wrong!
Like you, Luvvie, I always knew when it was my turn on the roll on the first day of school! After “Adams”, “Allen” and “Anderson” came this pregnant pause! It was like the teacher couldn’t decide which name, first or last, could be butchered less! So…after the three or four “A” names, I usually would just sigh and then pronounce it for them! When I was younger (and went to a private school where they were determined to call me “Toni”) I let people just call me anything, as long as it was close and not derogatory! As I got older, though, I started to correct people and “No, you cannot call me anything else!” Someone wanted to call me “Tonya” because it was easier. And I’m sure it is…but “Tonya” is a totally different woman!
At my college graduation, I had this ridiculous idea that, “Hey! I go to an HBCU and our dean is a Black guy. He GOT THIS!” when I saw others writing their phonetic breakdowns on top of their name cards. Silly of me, to think that he…
Honey, my name was SO butchered by that dean that you could literally hear the PAUSE where my family was trying to figure out if I had just gotten my degree, or if they had someone skipped me, before they applauded! My family joked me for, probably, years about that!
My elementary school gym teacher called me E-lon-da for 6 yrs.. #womp
And – my last name is Valley. People always ask how to spell it. I say “Just like it sounds.” “So is it just Y or is it EY??”….. Do you spell valley w/ just a Y, ma’am/sir????? (-_-)
My name is simple, Andrea. I have HEARD everything from Annie to Aun-dre-yuh. It is Anne-dree-uh, or my most common response, how the white girls say their name is how you say mine. And let’s not start on my middle name Rhea (Ray) not ree-uh, not ray-uh. (deep dramatic sigh). Its funny everyone can say “Dre-uh” but not my full name smh.
My first name is English but my last name is Nigeria. And oh the things I’ve heard in my lifetime. Its Mbu. Three letters. I cannot tell you how many times people have said “is that it?”, “BOO”, or just looked up in panic. smh. who would have thought three letter would scare the shit out of people -__-
My first name is English but my last name is Nigerian. And oh the things I’ve heard in my lifetime. Its Mbu. Three letters. I cannot tell you how many times people have said “is that it?”, “BOO (ignoring the M)”, or just looked up in panic. smh. who would have thought three letter would scare the shit out of people -__-
My name consists of two very English four and three letter names. Two syllables for the first, one for the second, and a hyphen keeping them apart.
And people have been f*cking it up since nursery school. If they’re not mispronouncing the daylights out of it, they’re changing it by adding extra letter, or even using a whole ‘nodder dang name that doesn’t even sound like mine. =_=
My real name is foreign (Russian) although my parents are as colored as the day is long. Theys is just “cultured”. So when I hear people pronouncing my name wrong (it’s Tatianna btw…) i get SO SO ANGRY
It is not TIANA
It is not TIARA
It is not Ta-DE-Ana (there is no damn D)
Even worse..when folks wanna get creative and name their kids Tatianna and then go…. “Yeah…I named my baby the same thang..but i spelled it Totiyaahuh” B*TCH…that aint it you raggedy hoe! Dont do that to the baby!
As an African, I understand ALL of this, and I’m kind of happy my mom intervened with the naming; not that I wouldnt love an African first name, but I dont have the patience to deal with people butchering my name until the end of my days. I do however, feel for my cousin, who’s name is Mariambe. She has no ” street name ” O.o
Man, I have the most easy and common English name possible but people want to automatically shorten my name. I’m glad you can pronounce it and spot the obvious nicknames that can come from my name but ain’t no one give you permission too.
Almost missed an appointment cause the front desk lady decide to shorten my name. I was sitting there for awhile wondering who this rude & late person was until I realized she meant me. UGH
This is so real. As a person with no English name on record, why? Ask my parents. I actually dont take offense to people mispronouncing my name as long as I know you are referring to me. Also, you are right, I really dont like my name getting shortened a lot unless you let me tell you the shortened form. lol. It might also have to do with the fact that I think only my dad and some people from our hometown correctly pronounce my name. Even I dont really know the right poronounciation of the name. Great post Luvvie!
My name is Marchelle. It’s pronounced the way it’s spelled MAR-Chelle. I get called Marsha, marmello, marchellea, and marchele. Lawwd.. I looked at your name and got it right. People don’t take the time to read.
I almost feel bad for sharing after reading how bad you guy’s names have been butchered…. no. screw that. My last name is Chaffen. Pronounced “CHAY-FEN.”
Its apparently Scottish (which explains a lot), but who cares. It’s a simple, 2 syllable word. Easy, right? No ma’am Pam. I get Chaa-fon. Shah-fon, Shay-fin Shay-feen… Every possible combination but the right one. So I usually just use my middle name as my last name unless I have to sign something. Chanel. No one ever screws that up…
My last name is Mallory. But for some reason people think that it’s pronounced differently because it’s my last name. So instead of Mal-lo-ree, I hear Ma-lor-ree. I’m sorry where the other ‘L’ go?
My son is named Britton, and if this two teethed lady at the daycare calls him “Britney” or “Brenda” one mo’ time…
Lawd lawd. My uniquely named peoples, what is we gon’ do??
My name is TAMORRA. That’s TAM-MORE-A. Not Ta-MER-a, not Ta-MARE-a, Not Ta-MAR-a…No, I’m not the missing Mowry!! And we not eem gonna start on my last name…it was a President for goodness sakes! Folks see the BuCHa…and now I’m BUTCHa…no bueno. My friends call me Tam, and I’m okay with nicknames from close friends and fam, but if I’ON KNOW YOU, fix yo’ mouf to say my name right dammit!
Luuv this post! I feel the struggle. My mother named me after a friend of hers from India so I often get questions about my name (are you >insert nationality here<). I will never understand WHY people chop and screw it when it has syllables, no z's, q's, or challenging glottal combos. All very American sounding syllables but folks still want to have it their way.
I work in cust. service and I've seen people ADDRESS ME IN WRITING in a different spelling of my name when it is in the freeking email I sent them. DISRESPECTFUL!
THANK YOU THANK YOU THANK YOU
My name is from ghana – Mansa…soooo easy
but I get, Mensa, Samantha, Melissa, Mazda, MENSES AND RHONDA
in fact I usually tweet the “Name eff up of the day”
Today was: Samansa oh so you’re just going to add a syllable to my name
i know i’m late to the party, but i understand the struggle. my name is simple or at least i think so. it’s eronica (ee-ron-knee-ca). i’ve been called erica, rhonda, ro-knee-ca, er-row-knee-ca, veronica, and the one that really grinds my gears, ah-ron-knee-ca. how people just add and subtract letters from my name? i would rather people ask. i hate to mess up a person’s name, so i ask and repeat until i get it right. i make people learn my name before i give permission for them to shorten it. dude at work asked if i go by e. i responded yes but you can’t call me that. he got offended. #ohwell
To think as a child I wanted a nice simple name like Michelle with a silent “e” at the end or Jennifer, like the smart girl in my class whose name no one ever got wrong. So glad I grew up to appreciate my beautiful Indian name, so phonetic that it’s rather ridiculous how many people mess it up. I meet new people who are of a non-Anglo background with names like Kelly and Victoria and the first thing I say is “What’s your given name?” I love the looks of surprise and happiness when I pronounce it correctly (I am a language teacher), but usually I know to cut myself off when it comes to spelling. Shalina out (Shah-lee-nah)
I know i’m late on this but I just stumbled on this. Found this SO funny and SO relatable. I’m Ghanaian and even Ghanaians can’t pronounce my name so i don’t blame foreigners at all when my name gets messed up. Its ‘NAA AHINEY’ pronounced (Naa Ah-ee-nay)*don’t worry if you didn’t get it* and Lord knows I’ve been called a hyena back in grade school so many times I’ve lost count. I was always embarrassed to mention my full name so I’d just say “oh call me Angela” that’s much MUCH better than using at least an hour teaching you how to pronounce my traditional name!
I’m late on this post, but I can definitely relate. My name is Brittany (brit-tuh-knee). Instead of pronouncing the “a, ” people like to completely skip over it (like Britney). Granted, there are millions of Brittany’s who lack emphasis on their a’s, I’m not one of them. After i correct people, they still call me Britt-uh-knee, or put extras on the “a” (brit-TAAAAAAN-knee). Smh.
I happened upon your site to read the 50 Dumbest Tweets of 2011. I nearly died from laughter. I have an upper respiratory infection right now, so I quite literally nearly died. But then I came across this. My maiden last name is Igbo. It’s Wilson now. I have actually been asked how to spell that. I just needed you to know how much I LOVE this blog.
So, I,m igbo and my last name is difficult but not impossible. It is really annoying when I say it for people and they say it back all kinds of wrong.
One thing you didn’t mention in your post is the fact that some of these people give their kids ridiculous names and then think the name means something in African (as if African is a language)
My mother is a teacher and I can’t tell you how many times parents will ask her what their child’s name means.
I know I am late on responding to this post, truth be told I just stumbled on your blog.. funny, entertaining and superior writing skills all rolled into one.
I have a first name and a last name that is difficult to pronounce on this side of the world…Kwavi Agbeyegbe. Okay my last name Agbeyegbe might be difficult but people ask me how to pronounce my first name…it is pronounced exactly as it is spelt and yes they also ask me if it can shortened and I politely say No (really want to shout out NO). Anyway I give presentation know and again and I have a laminated poster of my name with the pronunciation of my first name and last name as I don’t want people trying to figure that out and end up thinking about that and hardly pay attention to my presentation. Agbeyegbe is pronounced exactly as it sounds Ag-bay-egg-bay.
I really wish people would at least make an attempt to pronounce the name instead of saying ignorant statements like “What kind of a name is that ?”. SERIOUSLY!!! My first name is Togolese while my last name is Nigerian. My maiden name was Bello and that was easy for most folks. Growing up I used my English name of Christy so Christy Bello was so easy. Fast forward to the 90’s when I decided to start using my middle name, Kwavi and got married and changed my last name..then I realized how ignorant and rude people can be.
Both my sons have Nigerian names and I have taught them to teach people how to pronounce their names and also to tell them the meaning when asked. I have also taught them not to let anyone shorten their names just to make it easier for someone else to pronounce. I also taught them to make sure their names are spelt correctly at all times, which happens from time to time.
Names are something that we truly own; they don’t get old and die, they can’t be taken from us, we own it. In most cases the first thing our parents do for us when we are born is to give us a name to separate us from others and make us unique. As a child one of the first things you learn is your name and the question you get asked more than any other is “What is your name” ? My name is my identity who I am.
Next time you meet someone with a name that is not as common as Joe Smith take the time to ask how it is pronounced and the origin of the name. The person will respect you for that.
So super late to this post, but I understand the struggle. I got to the point where I just give folks my nicknames, cause it makes my life easier
HEEEY I almost got Enwelumokwu i choose ain-wee-loo-mo-kwoo instead of AIN-WAY-LOO-MOHK-WOO. two syllabols off…
When I come across a foreign name I always look at it syllabol by syllabol because I hate messing up peoples names because I hate when people can’t even say a simple “EPPS” -_- I mean come on son what’s so hard about that?!
My name is “James Makumbi Samuel Kayanja” I used to work for an Indian owned bank.
One morning I got this email from the head office directing me to represent the bank with our central bank. The name on the letter was, “James Maqhumbyi”. I did not go and when they asked me, I told them, “my name was not in the letter”.
They used to call me, “Mr James” and I told them if you know someone well enough to use their christian name, then there is no need to use the title.
I went out of my way to learn how to say, “Balasubramanian” instead of the, “Subu” they wanted me to use (we are not at the nickname stage). I grew up reading Dale Carnegie and he said, “a person’s name is the sweetest sound to their ears”.
Checkout the hanselminutes podcast where he interviews Baratunde Thurston. Baratunde introduces himself to some one and the guy says, “how about I just call you Barry?”. Needless to say, Baratunde TOTALLY LOST IT and verbally ripped the guy a new one.
My name is Jing (Chinese). Even though it is freakin’ one syllable word, people still pronouce it wrong. For gawd sakes, even teacher in most of my college classes say it wrong. It’s the first syllable of the Jingle bell song -JING. It really annoys me. 🙁 But still, i would NEVER change it because i am proud of my ethinic background.
My name is always butchered. Miriam Ruiz. If you can’t roll your R’s than you’ll never correctly pronounce my last name. I’m pregnant with my first baby & I’m debating if I want to give this child less stress with a simple American name, or pride with a strong Hispanic name.
Oh, & my sperm donor is Nigerian as well! He’s also Yoruba! However, he’s decided he wants nothing to do with this child. Oh well.
I too dreaded the first day of school, when the teacher paused I knew that my name was next in line. Ysanne pronounced (E-san). I think when I give the, ‘ it is just like Yvonne, Yvette, explanation” it should be easy to pick up, but I have members of my family who slaughter it.
Recently I met a group of people at my new church who were interested in saying my name correctly, and I am so pleased.
I so appreciated this blog! I have had my name butchered in every way and I always dreaded the first day of school. But I have embraced it over the years and I don’t allow people (outside of family and very close friends) to call me by a nick name or shorten my name. If I had to learn how to spell and pronounce it – so can you!
Also, I gave my son an “easy” name – Christian. People still get it wrong. I also told him it is not ok (adult or not) for someone to shorten his name without his permission.
I was taught from an early age to NEVER let anyone call me by a nickname as it was a gesture of disrespect on their part. So I always ask people to make the effort to learn how to say my name. If I get opposition, especially outside my culture I just say you can call me Miss or Ma’am..suddenly their phonetic and pronunciation skills miraculously turn around.
People are just plain lazy. My a e is Whitney, which should be the easiest name on the planet to pronounce. I mean, everyone knows who Whitney Houston is, right??? I get called Britney , Wendy, Whitley, and even Stephanie. Dafuq they get Stephanie from???? I feel for people with foreign names because the fact is most Americans are too lazy to try which is very telling about the society we live in. I try really hard to learn people’s name. It’s so disrespectful not to even try!
My sister who’s name is Katya (funny because it is a diminutive of my name) came home one day and yelled, “HOW WOULD THEY GET F***ING TATIANA???!!!” You have to understand that she had a terrible temper (still does) and she really was mad. Turns out at the park she was talking to some people she told them her name was “Kah-tee-yaah” which is the way it is pronounced. They called her Tatiana. She corrected them.
“Oh, I’m sorry, Tatiana.”
She lost it and said heatedly, “You’re either trolling me or your hearing aid is broken” and speedwalked off. She apologized begrudgingly the next time she saw them. It was kind of hilarious.
I have this problem with my last name. But thank God Derek Jeter came along, now everyone pronounces right, Jeter “gee-ter”.
My last name is Langster ,which is English in origin,yet I had teachers in elementary & middle school that would murder the pronounciation.
Here’s how they would pronounce Lang-ster:
Lancaster (where did the come from)
Langston( I had a teacher put this on my end of the year awards certificate & her excuse was that she was a math teacher & not an English one.My grandmother wasn’t having it & made heritve me a new one with the right name on it.
Lansbury-Yes this happened.
My name is Deidra (Deeeee-Drah) Yvonne (Yah-Von) Roberson.. (rob-er-son)
Deedraay.. Deerdrah or Diedrah or Dee Dee or De or Deetrah
Robertson Robinson Robe-er-son
I answer to them all except the last name.. i’ll correct it like my life depends on it. sad face.. bout the only thing my daddy gave me.. and i’ll protect it to the death… sad part is my brother now pronounces it Robe-er-son… boy that wasn’t how you grew up.. but he changed it because people kept telling him he said it wrong… *_*
My name is Erin, and while people don’t have trouble saying it, they seem to have absolutely no idea how to spell it. It’s four letters, people.
My name is Susaye (pronounced Su-zaye, named after one of the Supremes, Susaye Green) and people kill me when they pronounce it Susan or Susie. I’ve even been called Sausage.. At times when they call me Susan, I look at them and wonder ‘do I have something on that would let you know I don’t know how to spell my own name.’ One time I asked a lady to tell me what she saw on the paper and why she would pronounce what she didn’t see. She said she didn’t know. SMH.
I don’t have a foreign name but I feel your struggle with my first and last name. Thanks to my mama attempting to be unique my first name is Shenea pronounced Sheena. No one ever ever ever pronounces my name right and when it comes to my very easy last name which is Ball it magically becomes Bell, Balls, Hall, or something else totally off the wall.
My name is Rosenetta (pronounced Rose-Net-Tah) and people call me Ro-Zet-tah, Rose-Neat-Ah, Rose-Ah-Neat and spell check insists my name should be Rosen Etta.
Someone called me Rosenwald in an email once and I decided to simply forward the email to the first Rosenwald in the employee directory because clearly the email was not meant for me..lol.
My first son’s middle name is Ebhelematizabanaru and I give people credit when they take a deep breath and attempt to say it.
My name is Neesha…pronounced just how it looks. My INTERNATIONAL student advisor called me Nash-a, Nigh-sha, Ny-ee-sha… Lawd it was horrible.
Now I am married to a Nigerian (Yoruba) and in the process of changing my last name and folks been butchering it left right and center. Jesus be a fence…
[…] about her name and not much else. We get it. It is hard to say. It is hard to spell. Yes, I know the foreign name struggle is real. But this little girl has told us many times how to say it and we’re still all “GEEZ […]
I don’t even think my name is foreign. People just don’t seem to wanna sound anything out anymore. I’ve been called Ebony and Aubrey soo many times :/
[…] about her name and not much else. We get it. It is hard to say. It is hard to spell. Yes, I know the foreign name struggle is real. But this little girl has told us many times how to say it and we’re still all “GEEZ WHY IS IT […]
thank you. My brother’s name is Amin (ameen). At our college graduation, he wrote the phonetic pronunciation Ah-MEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEN, and I remember being horrified (yet dying of hilarity) when his Dean (who knows him personally) called him up: “Ah-MINE Elhassan”. My brother’s face was PRICELESS.
Sigh. When people just don’t try.
My mother decided to name me after My aunt whose name was Geraldine. My name is Geralynn. It’s not hard at all, but heres what I hear…… JEROLIN, Geraldine, Gerlin, Gerlynn………….. The correct pronunciation is GERA lin. ALL together! No breaks.. Lets say it together kids Geralynn. Ironically, everyone just calls me Gigi, which also is a problem for some lol
how did I miss this post the first time????
Nzinga, checking in here. en-ZING-ah “Oh, do you have a nickname?” Nzinga.
But I give to-go order-takers a break & just tell them Z. lol
oh, and I was at the top of the roster in HS as well…
“Ok, class: Roll Call.
I used to work for an Indian man who went by the name of Dan. One day I asked him what his REAL name was because I knew that wasn’t it. He laughed and said it’s Dharmendra, pronounced with the ‘H’ silent (Dar-MEN-dra). I asked why he calls himself Dan (even though I already knew the answer) and he told me it was because people would have a hard time pronouncing it so he just made it easier. I told him not to let people discredit his name just because they didn’t want to even TRY to pronounce it. I always called him by his real name. I feel that it’s disrespectful to rename someone just because YOU don’t want to take the time to use your vowels.
So, I have a “foreign” name – Muyiwa. I absolutely love it – and as a parent myself, I know the struggle of picking out your child’s name, especially with all the obvious veto power the other parent holds, and when you finally pick one out, it’s amazing. I think it would be simply rude to rename myself “Bob” just because people around me have trouble with phonics. People ask me what’s the short form, and I shut them down with a simple “That’s already the short form. The full name is Olumuyiwa.” and “Elizabeth has more syllables and you say that just fine.”
I love rolling up to a restaurant and putting my name on the list. Even if I’m with a Lisa, I prefer to use my name – when I see a gaggle of waiters gathered around the podium with scrunched up faces futile-ly consulting each other about how to pronounce my name, I have a good laugh and walk up and introduce myself.
Recently, I was working on a project and one of the participants emailed me and put “Dear Mu” at the top of the email. I was completely outraged – a simple copy & paste would have solved the problem – my name was at the bottom of the email he was responding to. So I responded to him “Dear Jo”. His name is John. These folks gon’ learn.
My name is Shakerria. I’ve been called shameka, shareka, shakema, shakena, and the worst of all……..a subsitute teacher in one of my classes in high school called me…..SHAKESPEARE…….WTF????
My husband’s name is Tzviel (Hebrew). Whenever telemarketers call, there is this long pause before they even try to say it. The most frequent attempt sounds like TEZ-VEAL. Say it like it looks, guys. Tzvi. El. Or at least apologize in advance for knowingly butchering it.
That at least is a more “unusually” spelled name because it takes three letters in English get the right sound. Some of the names in these comments, I can’t believe English speakers wouldn’t know how to pronounce them. Maya? Really? So strange.
My name is Muyiwa, and I stick with that name. I just enjoy watching folks struggle to pronounce my name and I couldn’t care less if they never get it right. Those that care enough make some commendable effort and I reward them by shortening it to ‘Muyi’ for them. Amazingly, a lot fo them still don’t get it right. My dad gave me an English middle name, Anthony, but I’ve never once cared much about it. In fact if we were only two in the same room and you shouted ‘Anthony’ at the top of your voice, I would hardly realize you were referring to me. You’d probably have to shake me hard while calling the name. I made the mistake once of letting two colleagues see my English name (thank you daddy for always using that name on my official papers, now I can’t get rid of it) and since then, they wouldn’t refer to me by any other name. My surname has it worse; it’s bastardized by both foreigners and my country people. Tell me you’ve ever heard the name Matuluko uh?
Charisse. That’s what my mother named me. Pronounced Sha-reese. I was named after a famous dancer, Cyd-Charisse. Once I say this, I’ve had a few people Google her. One came back & was like she’s white. And???? *blank stare*
I’ve had folks say Clarissa, Clarice, even go so far as to shorten it & device to call me Risse. I grew up in family that didn’t believe in nicknames. Both maternal grandparents as well as great grandparents were educators & didn’t play that, so in school when I heard people say just call me by my nickname, my first inclination was/is to ask – what’s your given name. If they say it & I feel like I’m gonna butcher it- I ask them to repeat it.
In my mind that’s just plain common courtesy. My name is who I am. What makes you think that YOU can take the liberty & change it??
People in this country are just plain lazy….*sigh* irks me to no end!! UGH!!!!!
*decide to call me Risse.
You’d be surprised at the amount of people who CANNOT pronounce Sharmane. So, I usually stick with Shar if it takes longer than three tries to get someone to pronounce it right.
Don’t get me started on spelling… :l
Every time we had a sub in class:
Sub: *Sees my name* Erm, sorry if I mess this up…jgdjjgsjtdjyjykydjgdmkofdghu? (Or something like that)
Me: -___- Ye-Kat-er-ina.
Whole class: *Sniggers*
Sub: I am soooooooo sorry, Hon! Where are you from?
Sub: That’s great! *Then, for the whole day, tries out stupid random nicknames on me* Ye? Kat? Rina? Yek?
Whole class: *Sniggers*
Me: Kill me with a rock.
Fortunately in first grade the kids were sweet and would come to my aid by yelling out “YEKATERINA!!!” and acting all, “Gosh, get it right!” XD
Ok, I feel like a complete jerk but here’s the deal. Started talking to someone with a unique name, they said it a couple times – clearly so i’d know how to say it – but I am apparently and idiot and can’t get this. So …. Please help me ! Ishe is the name and I keep doing all sorts of wtf to the last syllable. I genuinely want to not be rude and be able to correctly pronounce their name . please help…
how do you pronounce the name “Chukwuma” is it chew-koo-mah or chu-ku-ma? and he goes by “chuks” for short. is that pronounced like “chucks” or “chew-ks”?
Yoruba pride, I’m loving it! As far as names go, I’m from the Midwest USA – post slavery. Granny and’em migrated from Arkansas-Tenessee-Georgia-Mississippi thru St Louis-Chicago-Detroit! Which means Essie Mae was my dad’s mom. As her first granddaughter, being we was up North and all, Granny got to name me! I seriously dodged a bullet, ‘er I walked – cuz Essie ma had a sista named Armentha, a cousin named Arletha, you get the picture!
Granny simply named me June. Easy name, right? Straight outta tha calendar! So WHY IS MY EVERYDAY STRUGGLE with someone who insists on calling me Judy, Jude or thee most unrealistic name of them all Jean?!?!?
Cue the crickets!
Sigh. My name is also Yoruba. It’s Sope (SHAW-peh)and people have butchered my name all. my.LIFE. Up until high school,I “Americanized” the pronounciation of my name to 90% percent of people because people just could not get it and I started getting somewhat frustrated. ha.Looking back, I actually cringe at the fact that I let it occur! Preparing for college, I decided that I would correctly introduce myself to people. I go to an HBCU where pride about such things as your name being your crown (I already knew this ,of course,hence my annoyance) is knocked into your head, and it STILL goes in one ear and out the other ear when I introduce myself to people. People will ask “Do you have something else I can call you?” or “Can I just call you ______? NO AND NO. If people aren’t avoiding it, they’re mocking it. I actually had an African professor (English first name, easy last name) make fun of my name on the first day of class my sophomore year. I was stunned and embarrased, even this has happened a million times. At the end of the day,my name isn’t going anywhere, so theres’ that!
I do medical claims for a living, and the other day ran across this last name: Tskhvevadze.
I can handle African names (like you said, take it one syllable at a time and the vowels are mostly latin) and Indian names (Ananthanadarajah? No problem) but some of the Eastern European ones where someone took all the vowels off the keyboard and smashed the consonants together… My mouth was not raised to put a TS, K, and V together all at the same time. This poor kid and his poor teachers.
My gov’ment is Tanzania. All I want is people to SOUND. IT. OUT. before you open your mouth. Hell, there’s even an app that teaches you correct pronunciation. Best believe the girls couldn’t stand me in geography class when we study Africa (why this lil’ biracial girl named after a country?). And I really can’t stand when a stranger says I have a “ghetto” name and I have to snap and say “No, its ethnic and beautiful! Learn the damn difference.”
I picked out my own first and middle name. I changed my government name when I transitioned to male. I thought the name issues I had grown up with would go away. Nope, I just picked up a new one.
People have ALWAYS used my last name for a first name. At roll calls, on paperwork, for orders…it drives me buggy. It made more sense before though. There is nothing about my first name (Lincoln) that lends itself to being flipped that I can see.
Here’s my new problem: spelling. Yes, apparently it’s too hard to spell my name right.(especially for other white folks..have to call it out when I see the pattern..) I’ve gotten different attempts, but the most consistent one? LINKIN.
Yep. As in LINKIN Park. The band. (Am I really old or were they only hot for like 30 seconds?) If I was a hoarder, I’d have a collection of receipts, Starbucks cups and name tags all bearing the title “LINKIN”.
Maybe I should follow my friend Belinda’s advice and come up with an alias for places like Starbucks. She got tired of seeing her name murderalized all the time. So her baristas know her as Liz.
But according to these comments, that might even be a problem in some places.
My name is Ebunoluwa. Im Nigerian and my name is Yoruba. You say my last name as you see it and you will most likely get it right, same with my first name. Teachers and everyone else be like e-bun-o-lu-wa. like no its eh-boon-o-lu-wa. Like its actually not that hard. I hate awards night and graduations. They never even try they make me say it or the they will start and be like you know who you are. UGHH
I announce the names of graduating students for a local College here in Toronto. Can you suggest somewhere where I could find a pronunciation key for Nigerian names or, at least, a set of basic rules that could help me out.
PS: We’ve asked the students (of all nationalities) to write out their names phonetically on their name cards but it rarely gets done.
It’s good that you’re that dedicated, Patrick 🙂
You may just have to chase them down for it.
I ask my students, and if I get “oh, you know, pronounce it however…” then I ask their parents at parent-teacher night 😛
I feel all of you.
My family legally changed my name to Catherine when we got to Canada (I was 9), because the Russian version is Ekaterina, and you should SEE the face folks made when they saw that. I remember they looked either confused, surprised or offended. OFFENDED. Like how DARE I make them pronounce my name. FFS.
So, we did the blending in thing. Ain’t no changing my Russian last name, though.
The ONLY benefit to this is, I always know when telemarketers are calling. All my doctors and people I deal with regularly know my last name, so when I get “Hi can I please speak to…um….oh…*sounds of panic*” I am already thinking in my head of my polite refusal to whatever it is they want.
I came here looking for how to pronounce Luvvie’s last name, because I’m writing a radio promo for a show she’s going to be a guest on. I love this so much! The comments have made my day. Thank you all!
Debra (not Deb, not Debbie, not Brenda or Barbara — what is WRONG with people??)
I’m currently talking to a Nigerian guy and his middle name is Agbonisalo and last name is Omoregbee. I don’t want to be rude and continue to ask him to pronounce his name.