Chances are that those of you who are reading this have names that are very easy to pronounce like Lucy or Charlotte or Gemma; names that nobody is ever going to question the pronunciation of. If you're reading this on your PC then you can just glance to the left of this post and see my name right there underneath my photograph and I'll be honest, you're probably wondering what all the fuss is about. That's probably because you've never met me, so you're pronouncing my name incorrectly.
The internet is not always right.
For 30 years I've had to correct people when they pronounce my name that way and that's fine: if I see the name Simone written down I assume it's Sim-own because I don't know otherwise. I wouldn't expect anyone who hasn't heard me or a friend pronounce it to say it any other way! My biggest gripe - and one that happens several times a week - is when I tell people my name and they make no effort at all to say it correctly.
Rude person: What's your name?
Rude person: Huh?
Rude person: Sim-own?
Me: No, Simone
Rude person: Oh. OK Sim-own...
This has been going on since childhood. When I was a child I was so embarrassed by my unusual name that I told people I was called Samantha. I remember one year we were camping in Wales and I told all my new friends that I was called Samantha which confused my parents a heck of a lot when people kept coming to the tent asking for me! The irony of this is that when I worked in a contact centre people would mis-hear me when I said "you're through to Simone, how can I help?" and say "oh hi Samantha..." which was most frustrating!
I'd like to take a minute to reiterate that I don't have a problem with people pronouncing my name incorrectly; it's only once they've been advised how to pronounce it correctly but continue to get it wrong that I start to get a little hot and bothered. I would like to say though that a person's name is important - it's part of their identity and it's something that is very likely to stick with them their whole lives. People who don't appreciate the importance of a name are idiots. Simple. Like this 'lady':
I don't know who Jenny Johnson is and I don't care. I'm not even going to dignify her point of view with a quick Google search. She lucky she's called Jenny, a name that nobody is ever going to get wrong. I bet it narks her when people call her Johnstone instead of Johnson though... The other thing that Jenny seems to be forgetting is that we live (happily!) in a diverse and multi-cultural world where we're going to meet people whose names aren't familiar to us and whose names might take us time and effort to learn to say correctly. Is it worth it? Yes, of course. Saying someone's name correctly is about respect and understanding; it shows the person you are listening and that you're a decent enough person to take a few extra seconds to get it right. Every time someone repeats my name back to me or asks for clarification my heart soars - here is a person I can respect.
Last week a colleague that I've known for 8 years mis-pronounced my name out of the blue. He's never called me Sim-own before but for some unknown reason he got it wrong. I was gutted. It felt like I wasn't someone whose name was worth remembering and therefore a person not worth remembering. I even have an uncle who seemingly refuses to pronounce my name correctly even though he can hear everyone around him saying it completely differently. What's that about?! Why hasn't he noticed after 30 years that everyone else is saying my name differently?
When I was at school I really fancied this lad called Ian. He called me Sim-own for 7 years (or Simoan as he put it) but it didn't stop me lusting after him. My secondary school tutor said my name as "Semon" which was pretty disturbing once I was old enough to realise what that meant! Lately a senior manager at work has also taken to pronouncing it like that which has elicited one or two giggles from colleagues...
Whilst researching this post someone that I had a lot of respect for said "well why don't you pronounce it correctly then you won't have a problem?" and a lot of respect for that person vanished. My mother named me and she passed away 18 months ago so perhaps I'm a little more touchy about such comments now because I feel like my name was a gift from her. For so many years I've not had the confidence to say "actually, you're wrong" when people continually mis-pronounce my name and it was something that really got to me. I feel that as a tribute to Mum I should say something and correct people.
So that this post isn't all "me me me" I'd like to mention some other names with dual pronunciations:
Aaron: Air-ron or Ah-ron?
Siobhan: Shiv-on or Shi-vorn?
Evelyn: Ev-lin or Eve-lin?
Michelle: Mi-shell or Mee-shell?
There are a lot more that I thought of but I think that's enough to illustrate my point! Whilst doing research for this post a lot of people with quite ordinary names told me that they dislike it when people use the full version of their names (e.g. Stephanie instead of Steph) or when people shorten their names without 'permission' (e.g. Jo instead of Joanne). We really need to listen to people when they tell us their names - names are important and it is massively disrespectful to dismiss someone's views on their own name.
To summarise: If you think that someone is pronouncing their own name incorrectly then you're an idiot. If you think that it's OK to continue to pronounce someone's name incorrectly once you've been informed you're an idiot. If you think I'm somehow at fault when I say my name you're an idiot.
I had someone look over this before I posted it and they said "aren't you going to tell people how to actually pronounce your name then?!" Ah. How remiss of me!
Simone: Sim (rhymes with Tim) - on (the opposite of off)
Sim-on. Don't say it in that staccato manner though... make it flow.
Do you have a name people can't pronounce? What are your views on this issue? Let me know in the comments section and don't forget I have a blog giveaway going on! Thanks for stopping by.