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    36 People With Tough-To-Pronounce Names Are Opening Up About How They Respond To It, And The Frustration Is Real

    "It's hard. I don't want to embarrass people or make it awkward."

    Γεια σας! As someone who's Greek, I've got a middle and a last name that always throws people for a loop. Between that and watching my friends' names get mispronounced (by strangers and nonstrangers alike) to the point where they give Starbucks baristas fake names, I know firsthand what it's like to be part of the "Commonly Butchered Name" Club.

    The Starbucks logo on a building

    That being said, I decided to ask members of the BuzzFeed Community with commonly mispronounced names to tell me how they usually handle it (especially because it's so common to avoid correcting people to avoid embarrassment on both ends). Well, let me tell you, their stories made me both laugh out loud and feel indignant on their behalf.

    Obviously, if someone makes a genuine attempt to pronounce a name that's not of their native language and still doesn't get it, I understand. Sometimes it's the phonological difference between languages or even the rolling of an "r" that gets in the way. However, if you don't even try or only give a half-hearted, ignorant go of it, then you're just being a jerk.

    So without further ado, here's how the following 36 people deal with getting their names butchered all the time:

    1. "My name is Glyness. It's pronounced like 'Guinness' with an 'i,' and it is constantly butchered. On the plus side, I always know when my name's up in a roll call because of the awkward pause. I also always know if it's a telemarketer calling me, and I get to make up fun new names at coffee shops. On the downside, I often repeat and spell out my name, only for people to still get it wrong. Oh, and one time, someone thought I said my name was Clitoris."

    Close-up of a person talking into a headset

    2. "My name is Na'im (pronounced 'Nah-eem'). My mom remembers people getting in an endless loop with me when I was a child. Someone would ask, 'What's your name?' and I'd say, 'Na'im.' 'No, what's your name?' 'Na'im.' Eventually my mom would have to jump in and say, 'His name is Na-eem. He's saying his name.' Pretty much every teacher, nurse, and dental assistant butchers it, or they don't even try. They just stare at their paper, which I reflexively observe and react to: 'Looking for Na'im?'"

    "The worst is when people add letters that aren't even there. I had a teacher call me Nazeem for a month before I decided to correct her. My mother's name is Lateefah Kituku, and I can remember a parent called asking to speak to 'Lil' Cuckoo.' I just about fell out."


    3. "It was the first day of middle school in math class. The teacher's first language was not English. He read the attendance sheet and confidently called for Urine. 'Urine? Is Urine here?' Um, no, but ERIN is here, Sir."

    Close-up of a clock in a school hallway

    4. "My name is Alyssa. One wouldn't assume it's given me a lifetime of being called an incorrect name, so allow me to explain. Back in the '70s, 'Alyssa' apparently wasn't common. When Mom picked it from a name book, she thought it should be pronounced 'Uh-LEE-suh' rather than 'Uh-LI-suh.' It'd make sense if everyone assumed my name is pronounced the usual way ('Uh-LI-suh') — and most do mispronounce my name that way — but I've also been called the following names many times: Alicia, Alisha, Allison, and Alice (?). I'm a relatively shy person and absolutely hate correcting people. Most don't even remember until I've corrected them multiple times, so I'll correct them once and then never again. I've worked jobs for more than 10 years and just respond to whatever sounds close to my name. My ex-mother-in-law still calls me Alisha, and I've known her for 20 years."

    —Alyssa, Tennessee

    5. "I'm struggling with people mispronouncing my daughter's Portuguese name, Francisca. She constantly gets 'Francesca' (for context, we live in Australia). My struggle is determining when to correct people and how to correct them. I know it's doing the right thing by my daughter, but it's hard to overcome the social norm of not wanting to embarrass people or make things awkward."

    "Hoping this thread gives me some ideas!"


    6. "Our last name only has 10 letters in it, but it looks like someone just scrambled up the alphabet: Ulasiewicz ('You-la-say-wits'). Everyone we meet either tries to pronounce it and butchers it or says they're not even going to try (to which we respond with a chuckle and correctly pronounce it for them). Yes, it gets old. When we go to restaurants, we usually give our first name just so we don't have to deal with it. When we're volunteering for our kids' school functions, the other students will refer to us as Mr. U and Mrs. U, which is totally fine. But the funniest thing my husband does is this: A lot of times when someone asks, 'How do you pronounce that?' he quickly responds, 'Smith!' The person initially looks confused for a second and then laughs after realizing he made a joke."

    Close-up of "Please wait to be seated" sign

    7. "I have a Japanese last name, but I'm white (my father adopted me). People love to replace it with things like 'Mitsubishi,' 'Yamaha,' or other Japanese words they know. This is a racist microaggression. One great thing about being white is that I have the privilege of telling people off and making them say it correctly without being the minority. It comes in handy when people try it on my dad when I'm around."


    8. "My first name doesn't have the 'standard' spelling, but it is the common spelling of a different name. (Basically, my name has an 'e' on the end that changes the pronunciation, but most people don't read the whole thing and just call me by the other name.) As a child, I'd always get mad and especially correct my teachers. By the time I got to high school, I was over it. I just answered to whatever name the teacher used. In fact, I still respond to both names. To parents out there, the moral of the story is, use the standard spelling!"

    An elementary school classroom

    9. "I have a last name very few people have been able to get right the first time. It doesn't look very hard, but the first 'i' is always pronounced short rather than long. At this point, I don't bother. It's not worth the effort. I'll respond to pretty much any version of my last name because of it."


    10. "My name is Niamh, and it gets butchered more often than it doesn’t. 😅 The worst is in work emails where my name is literally clearly spelled in my email address, sign-off, and signature — yet they still get it wrong. I have literally been called Naomi via email. I understand not knowing how to pronounce it, but the fact people just see an 'n' and make up whatever they want does irk me."

    Close-up of a laptop

    11. "My first name, Margann, gives so many people headaches. By default, it then also gives me headaches trying to explain how to say it. I tell people, 'Can you say "Marg" like in 'Margaret'?' Yes, they can. 'Say that, and then say "Ann."' It's not that complicated."

    Margann Laurissa

    12. "My name is Emilie, but I've accepted my alter ego, Emile. It is a bit irksome when people at work — who have had to look up my name in the directory to even contact me — deliberately misspell it as Emily. I'm not Emily. I'm Emilie."

    An open-plan office

    13. "My name is Lakela. It's actually pronounced 'Lakayla,' but I often get 'Lack-a-la' or 'La-key-la.' I used to care more, but nowadays, I'll respond to anything close — even Makayla."


    14. "My name is Mercedes, pronounced exactly like the car, which I was, in fact, named after. Once, while I was at a Starbucks in Germany — home of Mercedes-Benz — I told the barista my name. Although I am American, I speak fluent German. When I got my cup, it said 'Baclyrdes.' I rolled my eyes and walked away."

    A Starbucks shop

    15. "My name is Wrae. I correct people when my first name is said incorrectly. They've annoyed me, so I annoy them back."


    16. "My name is Rachelle. It's pronounced exactly how it's spelled: 'Ra-chelle' (like 'Ra-shell'). I have gotten Rachel, Michelle, Raquel...I tell everyone to just call me Shelly now because it's easier that way!"


    17. "My name is Nilufar, which is pronounced 'Nee-loo-far.' One time, I took a call from a customer and said, 'You are speaking to Nilufar. How can I help?' He responded, 'Hello, Melissa!' Who is Melissa?!"

    A hand picking up a corded phone

    18. "My name is Oviya, but I often get called Olivia. I correct people by telling them, 'It's "O-V-Yah" — rhymes with "Oh-dear."'"


    19. "My name is Erica. Easy enough, right? Not for the dozens upon dozens of people who have called me Erin after I tell them my name is Erica. I don't understand why this constantly happens with such an easy name!"


    20. "I have a traditional Irish name. When I lived overseas in America, I stopped correcting people and went by nicknames because Americans would always add commentary: 'I don't see how any of those letters can possibly spell what you just said,' 'Irish are known for their wildly unpronounceable names, you savages, haha,' and 'Yeah, I like how that sounds, but I'm not going to spell it that way. I'll write it phonetically to you, okay?' No, not okay. Obviously, when I moved back home to Ireland, it was fine — save for American tourists."

    A city street

    21. "Non-Anglos have my sympathy. However, I am Anglo, and both my first and last names are regularly mispronounced. This mainly happens on the phone (I always speak slowly and clearly). My name is Reg Byrde ('bird'). Reg becomes Rich, Rog, or even Ray. My surname is often pronounced 'bride' or even 'birdie.' I invariably politely correct the speaker."

    —Reg(inald) Byrde

    22. "My name is Nizar (pronounced 'KNEE-zahr'). Westerners and service industry people in a hurry often have a difficult time pronouncing or attempting to spell it. They frequently transpose the vowels, and I have to repeat my name for it to click. I have offered the mnemonic device of remembering it: 'Bizarre,' but with an 'n.' In school, I'd anticipate a new teacher or substitute teacher butchering my name during roll call, so I'd preemptively announce, 'Here!' moments before my name was called, detecting the speaker's hesitancy. After college, I explored the idea of using a fake name for orders that would be called out, but then I'd absent-mindedly not answer when it was called."

    Student chairs in a classroom

    23. "I have a Welsh first name: Angharad. It's pronounced 'Ang-harrod.' The number of times I get, 'It's nice to meet you, Ann!' Dude, no. Then I get, 'Oh, you MUST shorten it, though?' Again, no. I used to hate it growing up, but now I've fully accepted it as an integral part of my identity. I get that it's not a common name, but just make an effort! If it's not 100% correct, I get it. It's worse when people stop trying. For the record, if I'm with someone who should have learned my name by now, I refuse to answer unless they say it correctly."

    "If not that, I go out of my way to excessively refer to myself in the third person."


    24. "My name is Anya, and until Buffy, no one could pronounce it! I got used to teachers stopping during the 'A' names during roll call with confused looks on their faces. By second grade, I'd just call out, 'It's pronounced 'Anya,' and I'm here.' I've been called Tonya, Sonya, Tanya, Denise (?), and just about any name beginning with an 'A' or with a 'ya' sound in it. By high school, even my friends would correct people because they were as annoyed as I was! Everyone mocked the person who pronounced my name over the intercom in high school as 'Anyucky' (WHAT?). These days, even after Anya the Demon and Anya Taylor-Joy, people still can't figure it out. If I have to give a name for takeout or pickup, I go with 'Ann' to make my life easier."

    Emma Caulfield, who played Anya the demon

    25. "My name, Nohemi, is odd both in English and Spanish. There is an 'h' that always gives people a hard time. When I introduce myself in Spanish, everyone will spell it without the 'h,' and I'll politely let them know the error and move on. Now, in English, the 'h' is silent, but everyone will try and say it. I work in an office and constantly have to say my name over the phone. That's where it gets fun. I've been called by very interesting variations: Melanie, Lily, Emi, and Delayne. Melanie is the most common — I've gotten emails and voicemails like that. When I reach back out, I do a quick story and apologize for the confusion and for not correcting it earlier. Why my parents added that 'h' will forever be a mystery."


    26. "I have a somewhat uncommon first name with an unusual spelling that is frequently mispronounced or misread. I've been correcting people my entire life. I had one of the rudest experiences ever in college at the student health center. A staffer came into the waiting room and called out my very common middle name. No one replied after a few callouts, so she added my last name. I finally asked, 'Did you mean [my first name]?' She looked at the chart, looked at me, and then said, 'Oh, I didn't think you really went by that.' So incredibly rude! Damn right, I set her straight. I would have preferred that she at least tried and got it wrong."

    People sitting in a waiting room

    27. "My first name is Marisa, and it's pronounced 'Mar-ee-sa.' You'd think this would be a common-enough name to pronounce and spell correctly — especially since the alternative version, Marissa, is a pretty well-known name. Apparently not! My whole life, my name has thrown people for a loop. I've been called Marta, Marina, Melissa, Maria, Michelle, and even Merrassa. It's usually butchered at school or work at least once a day. I've started going by 'Mari' at places like Starbucks because I'm so tired of correcting people. You win! I'm very used to this happening, but it still deeply bothers me because I love my name and what it means in my family."

    "It's disrespectful to ignore the right spelling and pronunciation of someone's name, especially because if you're unsure, you could just ask!

    "If a person still won't pronounce or spell it right after I've corrected them several times, I'll always remember and definitely hold a grudge. If I misspell John's name in the next three emails we exchange, oh whoops! Silly me. Sorry, Johnne. :)"


    28. "My name is Kirsten and pronounced the German way: 'K-ear-sten.' I used to do sports as a kid, and most announcers would pronounce it the British way: 'KER-sten.' Most people — including those in every job I've had — call me Kristen (they even put that on my first military ID). I don't really care that much, though, and will answer to any name that starts with a 'K' and ends with an 'en' sound. To most Starbucks or restaurants that call out a name, I'm just 'Sara.' Now, I'm a lawyer who appears in court quite a bit and always has to say my name on the record. Still, most opposing counsel get it wrong."

    An empty courtroom

    29. "No one ever says my name (Kristen) properly, and it's not uncommon. I always get called Kristy, Krista, Christina, Christian, Kirsten, or Kiersten. People whom I've known for years still have trouble pronouncing it. I worked a job for 10 years and finally told everyone to just call me Kris because no one would get it right. I always make sure I am pronouncing someone's name properly because I know how frustrating it is."


    30. "My name is Cosette. (My parents both were fond of Les Misérables.) When I was growing up, teachers would always hesitate when they got to my name at the end of the list, and I could see the confusion in their eyes. I have been called Corset, Corvette, Cassette, Closet, and many more. At this point, I just tell people, 'You can call me anything that starts with the letter 'C,' even if it is c*nt.'"

    A bus with Les Misérables ad on it

    31. "My last name is Stulce. It has been pronounced 'Stoolchey,' 'Stoolcee,' 'Stulchey,' 'Stuckle,' and with other variations. I always correct the person (politely). When on the phone with a customer service rep, I always spell it 'S' as in 'Sam,' 'T' as in 'Tom,' 'U' as in 'Union,' 'L' as in 'Larry,' 'C' as in 'Charlie,' 'E' as in 'Edward.' It's my name, and I want it said and spelled correctly, please and thank you."

    —Anonymous, Arizona

    32. "My last name is Gent. It begins with a soft 'g,' so I have to deal with people mispronouncing it if they've only seen it, and misspelling it if they've only heard it (they always put a 'j' in there). Not to mention, some people will just 'correct' it to Grant. Whenever I have to give my name, I automatically spell it. At this point, I'm actively surprised if anyone gets it on the first try. I think I ran out of correction energy as a kid, so if I know I'm not going to have to spend time with the mispronouncer, I just answer to the wrong version. I really don't get why this trips so many people up, because it IS already a word, but I have accepted that it does. If I feel the need to correct it, however, I find it hard not to sound condescending: 'You know, as in the word?'"


    33. "My name is Cherilyn. I'm named after Cher. My entire life is nothing but constant corrections about my name. They even spelled it wrong in my high school yearbook. I just have to spell it out and give them this you're-an-idiot look."

    Cher with Elton John and Diana Ross

    34. "My last name is Verstraete (pronounced 'VER-straight'). I usually have people try to guess when I see them struggling with how to pronounce it. I've heard all variations: Verstraytee, Verstashe, Veerstraeeetee, you name it. If I know I'm not going to see the person asking again, I usually just let them think they pronounced it right the first time."

    —Zach Verstraete, Kansas

    35. "My name is Dannika (like Danica Patrick). It's been pronounced 'Donnika,' 'Danaka,' and, more commonly, 'Daneeka.' When I get sales calls and it's mispronounced, I usually tell the caller, 'I'm sorry, there's no one here by that name.' What's interesting is people either spell it right and pronounce it wrong, or pronounce it wrong but spell it right. Go figure."

    —Dannika, Texas

    36. "Artemiza is my name. It's not very common. I love my name because there are different meanings, and I feel it suits me. It's from Greek mythology (Artemis is the goddess of the wild, hunt, and moon). I'm not Greek (Mexican here), but my mom found it in a book when she was younger. No one can pronounce my name at all. I can't even write the pronunciations I have heard. I always tell people who ask me to repeat my name, 'It's Ar-te-mi-za.' I sound it out — usually in a calm voice — unless they are being bitchy."

    "I only wish I could have my name on a Coca-Cola bottle."


    What did you think of these? Were you shocked by just how badly these names — both common and uncommon in the US — get butchered? Is your name constantly mispronounced too? Let me know your thoughts in the comments below!

    Note: Some responses have been edited for length and/or clarity.