The Struggles of Having A Hard-to-Pronounce Name

Growing up, the only problem I ever had was people thinking I was a boy. (Ask me how many times I was placed on the boys soccer team. Ask me.) No one has ever slipped a silent “x” between “Ty” and “ler” or shortened my name to avoid an embarrassing spelling error on my coffee cup, though many have been quick to think that I have mispronounced Taylor or Tyla as Tyler, as if I haven’t been writing it on homework assignments for over a decade. However, after witnessing some of the struggles my friends have faced over the years (and watching celebrities try to pronounce Cara Delevingne’s last name), I’ve realized how blessed I am to have a fairly common, 5-letter moniker. I may end up on the wrong sports team occasionally, but at least I don’t have to deal with these problems:

Personalized souvenir? Forget about it.

Every overpriced souvenir shop has a rack of key chains bearing names like “Emma” and “Ryan” and never “Siobhan” or “Gregoire.” The problem with this is not so much the lack of obscure name tags, but the denial of the right to reject such an item. Did you actually want a 50 cent figurine of Michael Jackson’s head with your name inscribed across it? No, but they could at least give you the option.

Your coffee cup is always a mess.

When you have an unusual name, a simple coffee order suddenly becomes a frustrating guessing game for the confused barista. “Linnéa. Is that with two Ns? An accent? Is it like Liana? Like lint, with a T?” Before you know it, your Starbucks cup is covered in Sharpie hieroglyphics and your simple caffeine request has morphed into a back and forth exchange that has turned the rest of the coffee line against you. All because your parents thought “Emily” was too average.

You adopt a handful of nicknames to avoid confusion.

When your name takes longer than a split second to pronounce, it’s common to capitulate to the pressures of an impatient society by offering new alternatives. “My name is Paniteranium but you can call me Penny if you want” or “it’s Caprese, like Capri Sun, like the drink.” Occasionally, the other person will grant you a new title before you have a chance to provide one. “Andruth? How about Andruth the Sleuth? Or Handy Andy? Or Tom? Let’s go with Tom.”

Graduation ceremonies are always a disaster.

Nothing hurts more than watching your science teacher or principal hesitate when they reach your name on the graduation roll call. No matter how many hours said educator might have spent memorizing the pronunciations of 400 names, there will always be one poor soul that will spend the ten second walk across the stage wondering why they’re answering to “Witch” rather than “Wichitand.”


As they mumble your name into the microphone.

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