By: Denny Tan (Grade 12)
“Actually… It’s spelled with an ‘e’.”
Names. Names have power. They are meant to embody the essence of who we are from birth. We sometimes form misconceptions about people based on their names: the “face-name matching effect” suggests that people are much more likely to even look their names. Over the past month, the Wolfington Post has been conducting a survey on the daily announcements to see how students and staff at WPGA are affected by epidemics of name butchering. The results were astounding: from Annushka to Yufei, grade 8’s to faculty members, anyone with a wacky enough name in the senior school is susceptible.
Many feel strongly about having their names mistaken, mispronounced or misspelled; after all, they have taken the time to click away from the DA’s to voice their grievances.
You know how you can perk up when someone says your name even in a busy crowd? Being a ‘Denny’, I can attest to the confusing moment of what Ms. Castelino describes as “almost looking for someone else” when someone calls me Danny. This confusion isn’t restricted to mispronunciation. Emma Aranda said that Starbucks once spelled her name as Ama and that she “didn’t know how to react, honestly.”
Annoyance is common, especially when people repeatedly mispronounce or misspell the same name, because “one … wonders whether they care”. Ethan Jasny (not Jasney), an invaluable member of the Wolfington post, was himself a fierce advocate of spelling his last name correctly in the newspaper’s “scholars” section; an issue that always comes up during meetings.
Depression isn’t a rare symptom either. Emrin Basra, a victim of mispronunciation (who is also often called Gary or Akash), mentioned that it made him go “depresso mode”, while an anonymous victim just commented that they felt “depresso” without saying more. Mr Huygens was asked about his sentiments when others misspell his last name, he just said “dutch.” These sufferers’ laconic responses only serves to highlight this emotional toll.
On the other hand, there are some who aren’t too worried about their names. Some , like Rubi, have remarkably maintained optimism: “I am fine when they get it wrong but more happy when they get it right!”
Occasionally, the situation becomes more comical than infuriating. Ronja sums it up well: it [having her name misspelled] can be a little uncomfortable but also a little funny at the same time. Fleur’s name, for example, is often pronounced “floor” by those who don’t speak french or other European Languages. Kai is often called Kyle even when he says “Kai without the L”. Though these situations will remain awkward and embarrassing, sharing a laugh after the momentary discomfort of others isn’t schadenfreude at its worst.
Sometimes, being mistaken may be a blessing in disguise for getting out of trouble, or starting a conversation with someone we’re not familiar with… admittedly, not many of us have the good fortune of Mr Lu. (another writer for the Wolfington post) to be mistaken for Mr Liu.