As I have mentioned before, people mispronounce my name all the time.
I don’t really get it. My name is not COMMON, but it’s not UNHEARD-OF. A couple of celebrities share my name, including a wildly popular author. It was the name of at least one delightfully-divatastic, pig-owning sitcom character.
And, in my opinion, it’s spelled phonetically. Well, not exactly phonetically, because I think phonics uses a bunch of weirdo symbols and stuff to denote sound? I don’t know. Are phonics and phonetically even related? Let’s pretend I never mentioned phonics.
What I’m trying to say is, I think it’s spelled the way it sounds.
Yet people mispronounce it a good 90 percent of the time.
Okay, okay. Maybe this is a product of Modern Times, where kre8tiv spellings are so abundant that you feel like you’re so unlikely to mispronounce a name that you just don’t even want to TRY anymore. Because even if you DO try, you wind up with the wrong pronunciation probably half the time.
Leikynlea could be LAY-kin-lee or LEE-kin-LAY-uh or Lay-KIN-lee or, well, the brain boggles at the potential pronunciations.
And just because a name is “old fashioned” in look doesn’t mean it’s old fashioned in SOUND! I mean, John may very well be Jo-hen or Juh-OH-wen or Yone or whatever, right?
I come from a town that’s FULL of unique names, so I GET IT. You just can’t win.
So typically, when people mispronounce my name, I just… deal with it. It happens. Whatever. Most people who are using my name like this are people I’ll never see again. So I just go with it.
Anyway, my name gets mistaken most often for one other name. A very similar name, sure. But a TOTALLY DIFFERENT NAME, with its own spelling and own pronunciation.
And yes, a quick perusal of the Social Security Administration website shows that my name hasn’t been in the top 1000 names for girls since 1999, and even then it was given to fewer than 100 girls…
And the name my name gets mistaken for is still in the top 1000 names for girls, albeit given to fewer than 250 girls in 2011… So clearly, my name is less popular and less well-known than its doppelganger.
But come on. COME ON.
Let’s say my name is Joanne. It isn’t, but that’s a close enough approximation and it’s similar-ish in popularity.
So people frequently call me Joan. (Not really – Joan is a stand-in.)
Seriously. That is what they do. They call me Joan ALL THE TIME.
Even when I have helpfully spelled it out for them. Even when I have clearly stated my name FOR THEM.
Nope, still Joan.
After 30-odd years of this, you’d think I would be USED TO it.
And yet… I am not.
I went to the doctor the other day (missing a work meeting because of certain office restrictions and I am still not over it ARGH) and checked in at the reception desk. I said my name plainly and clearly. The receptionist handed my file – with my name written on it in clear capital letters – to the nurse. A nurse I’ve seen two or three times in the past six months.
The receptionist handed me a survey to fill out. (Speaking of which, do you ever have trouble answering those stupid questions on medical forms? Do you check the “headaches” box even though you only have headaches occasionally? And what about those yes or no questions? What if the answer is “sometimes” instead of a hard yes or a hard no? A lot of those questions seem like they should allow for a lot more grey area than they do!)
So I sat down in the only empty seat in the waiting room and settled in for the long wait. Because I have been to this doctor several times, and I always have to wait for at LEAST 15 minutes. That’s why they give you paperwork with maddeningly confusing questions – so you don’t notice how much time is passing.
I got to about question 5 on that stupid form when, out of the corner of my ear (that’s totally a thing), I faintly heard someone call, “Joan?”
But I ignored it, because it wasn’t my name. So while my “someone is talking” sensors activated, my “someone is calling YOUR name” sensors did not.
Also, to make my case air-tight, I would like to clarify that I’d been there for about two minutes. If that. My seat wasn’t even warm yet, Internet.
I plowed through a few more questions – blatantly IGNORING one, I’ll have you know – and was vaguely aware that the person was still calling, “Joan? JOAN?”
So, like a normal person, I looked up to see what the hell Joan was doing that was so important she was ignoring the poor nurse. (Texting, probably.)
Of course, as you know, the poor nurse was looking at ME.
So, of course, were all the other patients. Poor, hearing-impaired Joan, their collective expressions said.
I looked at her with great surprise and did the Incredulous Self Point and she said, across the ENTIRE waiting room FULL of people, “Your name IS Joan, right?”
I was embarrassed, obviously, so I said, “Oh! Nope, it’s JoANNE!” in a way that I hoped was cheerful and un-blamey and this-happens-all-the-time, and followed it up with a cheery, “Wow, you guys are sure fast today!”
I don’t feel like I should have been embarrassed. It was the nurse’s mistake, after all. But I WAS and I AM.
(Perhaps this is payback for misspelling/missaying my work colleague’s name for so long?)
There’s nothing I can DO about it, obviously, except complain to you. (You: Gee, thanks.) I mean, I just have to spell my name and pronounce it clearly and accept the inevitable Joaning and, apparently, tune my “someone is calling your name” sensors to Joan AND Joanne.
I just want you to share my exasperation.
Before I let you go, allow me to add another gripe to this one. It’s even MORE perplexing to me, Internet.
This one goes out to fast food servers and restaurant hostesses everywhere: If you were to hear a name, you would write it down in such a way that you would remember how to pronounce it, right?
I mean, obviously if you see my name out in the wild with no context and you can’t figure out how to pronounce it, that’s one thing. Forgivable. (Although: sigh.)
But if you DON’T ask, and YOU write it down the way you THINK that collection of sounds should be spelled, then wouldn’t you pronounce it correctly when you tell me my order/prescription/table is ready?
Sadly, Internet, the answer is typically no.