Posts Tagged ‘unusual spelling of names’

As a small defenceless infant, I was burdened with an unusual name with a heady mix of similar-sounding letters. This has meant I’ve forever had to use the military alphabet whenever making reservations over the phone (which, quite frankly, always makes me sound a little like a Whiskey-Alpha-November-Kilo-Echo-Romeo). But when faced with the opportunity of changing my name through marriage, I thought to myself “I’ve got this far with this name. It’s who I am and who I will always be. And I should see it through!” – martyr to the pointless cause that I am.

At the time of my marriage, a friend of mine pointed out that, should I have kids one day, those poor afflicted creatures would have to deal with all the confusion at school of their mum not having the same surname. I remember saying that if that was the hardest thing they had to deal with, then I should expect that they were doing pretty well. And in any case, it was fairly rich advice coming from this friend, whose surname was [Smith] and had ended up marrying another [Smith] and so got the best of both worlds: she took on her husband’s name whilst retaining her own. And all without filling in a single Change of Personal Details form. Pah!

Anyway, for some reason or another, I recently found myself explaining to the children about how their mummy, rather than become (say) Blah-blah [Husband’s Surname] when she married their daddy, had chosen to remain Blah-Blah [Maiden Name]. (And yes, Blah-Blah Maiden Name is my real name, which probably explains all the confusion when giving it over the phone.)

Anyway, upon hearing all this, Mr Justice exclaimed “As usual!”. Which I initially took as a comment on the general obstreperous nature of his mother. But after some rigorous interrogation, I found out that he simply meant that I had just remained as I “usually had been”.

“When I grow up, I…. I….” the Pixie started, in a little speech that I anticipated to be one of those Proud Mothering Moments when a daughter professes to want to be just like her mummy some day. “…I want to be a cowboy and bake eggs!”.

An egg-baking cowboy? Of course! We all aspire to being one of those – especially me, since they probably wouldn’t have to spell their names over the phone that often, right? My daughter is a genius.

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A friend – let’s just call him The Dog Man – recently added a string to his bow and became a celebrant. He comes to the world of Celebrancy (apparently a real word) with some very solid credentials: he has had himself an ongoing stint as a priest on a long-running soap opera and, I believe, has officiated at no less than four on-screen weddings. So The Dog Man might find himself in great demand as a celebrant by fans of this TV show – but actually, I’m hoping he finds himself more in demand as a performer. Perhaps he could showcase his talents at the weddings by singing the vows or perhaps even presenting them in the form of interpretive dance? Just a suggestion.

Actually, my husband and I pretty much chose our celebrant because he’d done an Elvis wedding in a jumpsuit. And interestingly enough, Greg Evans – he of Australian 80s game show “Perfect Match” fame (and I use the word “fame” there in the loosest of senses) – has also become a celebrant. But I think he probably does his celebranting (not a real word) without Dexter the Robot, which is kind of a shame – it’s a little like having Howard Moon without Vince Noir – but also probably for the best as it would somewhat spoil the Big Day if Dexter pronounced the bride and groom to only have a compatibility score of 22%.

But, as usual, I digress. Back to The Dog Man and his new career. As it turns out, he asked me to do the calligraphy on the marriage certificates, which I was very pleased to do as my handwriting is my One True Vanity (everyone has one… what’s yours?). Having largely spent my Saturday in a leisurely fashion with the kids screaming and fighting and my husband throwing up in the background (having come down with an acute case of the Irish Gastro – see “The Irish Flu” for details), we swung by The Dog Man’s place of work for me to quickly do a marriage certificate. Leaving everyone in the car, I ran in by myself and was half-way through calligraphing (now apparently that *is* a real word) when I realised – at precisely the same moment The Dog Man did – that I had misspelt the Bride’s name.

You see, the Bride had a reasonably common name with a twist in the spelling. I’ve subsequently googled her name and the standard spelling appears 20,500,000 times, while this mild variation appears 416,000 times – thats 49:1. Even Google, in its ultimate wisdom, asked me if I meant to search for the standard form in its patronising underlined-italicised way – Do you mean: XXXX ? Just because Google knows that I once googled “Google” and clicked on “I’m feeling lucky” doesn’t mean it has to come over all Mother Superior with me. I was bored, okay? (and for the record, the “I’m feeling lucky” button took me straight back to the Google home page, which was actually lucky for Google because it would have been quite embarrassing if I’d been taken straight to http://www.lezbunnies.com instead – and remember, I’ll know if someone clicks on that link from this page).

Look, I’m not against unusual names – why, I have one myself and, when combined with my surname, it makes me one of the most easily google-able people on the planet (thus I hide behind the “Not Drowning Mother” moniker).  My beef is with really common names dressed up as unusual names like a wolf in sheep’s clothing. Consider “Christina” versus “Krysstynah”. They’re pronounced the same way and yet one name gives a child a fighting chance of growing up reasonably well-adjusted, while the other name condemns a child to a life of forever spelling her name over the phone and getting it misspelt on birthday cards and official documents (such as marriage certificates, for example). I say, if you want your child to have an unusual name, go the whole hog and choose one that sounds unusual as well as looks unusual, perhaps like Jeksqueaxxx or Fafafafapththhhhh (for more helpful hints like this one on naming your child, see my NDM Guide on the subject).

Anyway, there was no back-up certificate for me to start again on and, although The Dog Man was really okay about it all (he’s an actor, after all, and even if he wasn’t okay, he could make himself look okay), I walked back to the car to Sir Chuck-a-lot and the Screaming Banshees with a heavy heart. I even had myself a little cry as I drove along because I Just. Felt. So. Stupid. and then decided to put it in a bubble and blow it away. And that would have been that, had we not – quite by chance – passed a street with the Bride’s name but with the standard spelling. At that point, my tears turned to rage and my husband, god bless him, suggested we turn up at the wedding the next day to to throw tomatoes at the Bride – but I corrected him and said we should throw tomatoes at The Parents of the Bride who cursed her with the unusual spelling and if a crazed woman turned up at their precious daughter’s wedding day in a beat-up Tarago with her three screaming kids and her vomiting husband just to pummel them violently with vegetable matter, they only had themselves to blame. But look, I didn’t do it. Just talking about it made me feel better and I’ve clearly moved on from all that now. Clearly.

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