Wednesday, 9 July 2014

Wednesday Whine | That's not my name...

In 2008 The Ting Tings re-released their electro-pop hit "That's Not My Name" and finally I had an anthem - a song that defined my entire 25 years of living on this planet.

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.


Google Simone and the internet will tell you to say it thus: Sim-own.

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?
Me: Simone.
Rude person: Huh?
Me: Simone
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.
 

26 comments:

  1. I am so used to people mispronouncing and misspelling my name I'm now genuinely surprised if someone gets it right first time! Always an awkward pause at school if we had a supply teacher when they reached my name in the register!

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    1. Ha, I was the same! I used to cringe at uni when someone would say "oh, I really should do a register..." as I often ended up being called Simon and they would look around for a male to say "here"! Thanks for the comment Sian :)

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  2. I feel your pain babe!! =/

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  3. People have a hard time pronouncing my last name because of English rules. I don't mind because I understand it's not something familiar to them. If they ask if they're pronouncing it right, I tell them. If not, I let it go. If someone is calling out names and starts to struggle, I just assume it's me haha!

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  4. I spent the whole of this post wondering actually how you pronounce it! I know how you're feeling though, whenever people pronounce my surname wrong I get frustrated!

    whatzoesays.blogspot.com

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    1. I can't believe that I nearly forgot to inform people of the correct pronunciation - dafty! Thanks for the comment :)

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  5. I'm lucky in that my name is common and easy to say, but my surname is always being pronounced wrong. People adding in letters that aren't even there...
    A girl on my uni course is called Tamar (Tay-mar) and one lecturer kept calling her Tamara to begin with, and then Tam-ar. I don't know about her, but it really annoyed me! It's not that difficult to listen to someone saying their name and then pronouncing it the same. I can totally get your frustration.

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    1. I completely agree - if I'm unsure I just ask. It's a really nice gesture when someone asks me for clarification instead of just pretending they didn't hear me correct them. Poor Tamar too!

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  6. I feel your pain! My name is very uncommon in Austria, so even my teachers (who taught me for 8 years) preferred to call me Elena or Alina instead of Elina (E-li-na). I know that my name originated from the Greek Helena but that doesn't mean that it has to sound similar. At one point, I didn't bother to correct them anymore, but every time I heard my name pronounced wrongly, I started boiling inside. Hopefully, I can start to set things straight with my new acquaintances from university.
    Thank you for sharing your story!
    x
    Elina
    http://cupcake-kissesxo.blogspot.com

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    1. Hi Elina, it's great to know other people feel the same way, although not so great that there are so many people not making a small effort to get such a small thing right!

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  7. Hehe I love this post! I don't have that problem too much, mainly with spelling and being called Yasmin a lot but one of my best friends is called Elleke (el-eh-ka) and I feel for her, I spend enough time correcting people for her name! xx

    Jasmin Charlotte

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    1. I'm glad Elleke has someone to stick up for her too - even my husband doesn't really correct people when they say it incorrectly. He also avoids saying it in case he slips up and I shout at him, teehee!

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  8. I admit when I read your name I thought it was Simown but will now pronounce it correctly (even if only in my mind). Your right your name is important & it is a common courtesy for people to get it right. Mine is easy enough to pronounce,yet over my lifetime the amount of people who say Angela after I have said Andrea is unbelievable. Like did you here me say a g or a l? Xxx

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    1. That's a great phrase - common courtesy!! I might say that next time I want to snap at someone ;-) x

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  9. I'm Simone too (But I'm Sim-own) and oh my god the variations you get on it are so amazing, its not a hard name really but people struggle don't they!

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    1. I think it's the vowels Simone, I really do. People don't appreciate that vowels can sound in more than one way. The French have punctuation to help but we don't, unfortunately!

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  10. I agree it is a sign of respect to pronounce someone's name correctly.

    http://beautyskooldropout2013.blogspot.co.uk/

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    1. Glad I'm not the only one Gemma!

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  11. I can quite happily say I pronounced it correctly from day 1 (potentially someone said it to me first) I'm having the same problem with my surname. I probably wouldn't have understood you before but, you're totally right, it's so irritating xx

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    1. Now you've got me wondering if I say your married surname correctly! I think Steve M probably hammered home how to pronounce it before I returned from sick leave in case it tipped me over the edge, haha!x

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  12. Check out my surname. I have never married (prefer living in sin, as my nan used to say) so its been stuck with me. I like my surname but no matter how many times I tell people to pronounce it thus: Car - vehicle, War - battle, Dine - eat, they always resort to Car War Dean. Hence I have had some pretty stupid nicknames over the years! I use these on my social media now as a mini protest and also to hide from nosey people! On facebook I am JuJu < something my kid sister used to call me, Cardboard. I rest my case! Oh and for the record, I do know how to say your very pretty name! ;)

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    1. Julie, what's sooo funny about this is that my friend was reading my blog as he sat next to me in the car and he said oh someone called Julie Car-a-dean has left a comment and I got really angry and said "well read the bloody comment" and he did and laughed. I said "it's CAR-WAR-DINE! DINE!!!!" and was really peed off on your behalf so it totally proved your point. Just wanted to let you know!

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    2. Hahahaha! I am crying here! Thanks for making people aware of the Carwardine pronunciation! My late dad would be so proud! xD xxxxx

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  13. Great post! I have this nightmare with my surname, Vasey (Vay-Zee) I've had all sorts: Vase-ee, Farsee, Vassee, Varsee, Varzee, Fayzee (no idea where the F came from!). I was relieved at my graduation when they did pronounce it right haha! But even my first name Kate can get called Katie which I cannot stand, especially as Kate is my proper name its not short for anything so it used to wind me up when people assumed it was short for Katie. Its refreshing to see a post about this as I think this a topic that should be addressed more. I bet that Jenny would be annoyed if they assumed her name was Jennifer etc. There's also a new girl at work called Delaney and she's been having the 'name issue' as people say 'Da-lane-ee' when its basically pronounced like Melanie but with a D instead of an M and with her being new shes a bit shy to say "actually its..." as sometimes it is hard to correct someone without sounding like a douche haha! I feel your pain Simone! You're not the only one ;)

    www.violetdaffodils.blogspot.co.uk
    xx

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    1. YES, you really summed it up for me there when you said it's sometimes hard to correct someone without feeling bad about it! It's worse when it's someone who has said it incorrectly for a while now! I also have a friend called Kate and an old manager of ours always called her Katie. I understand people shortening people's names but not making them longer, that's weird!

      I always make an effort to find out what people want to be called and it's also a good technique to use their name a lot at first to prove you listened!

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