The first time I ordered coffee at Starbucks in Lima, the barista asked me, "What's your name?"

Me: Meghan.
Barista: looks really confused What!?
Me: Meghan.
Barista: Ohhh, May-gone!!
Me: Yes, May-gone.

That's my name in Spanish. The first syllable is pronounced like the month following April and the second syllable the past participle for "to go". To make things more confusing, the emphasis is placed on "gone".

One time when I was teaching a class to new students, the student told me, "My name is Elías." I responded with, "Nice to meet you, but I will probably pronounce your name in English as "Elias". Most of the class he didn't respond to my English pronunciation of his name. As I grew more frustrated he told me, "I'm sorry, Miss, but I'm not used to my name being said like that." It took all my professionalism to not say,

"Well if you are going to pronounce my name, May-gone, then I will call you whatever I want."

The same went for his friend Daniel. In Spanish, it's pronounced like Danielle. Which messes with my head as I say, "Danielle" while looking at a man.

Even after nine months, the Starbucks barista still can't get my name right because this is what I found on my cup last week:

Mayra? What is Mayra? It's not even close to "Meghan" or "May-gone". At least my latte was right.


Ley said...

This post is so damn good!
I can imagine how you feel... Happens to me also here in NL. But, my boyfriend gets more angry, because people say my name like if it was arabian, but I think I don't care anymore... I can not pronounce their weird names also here! Ups! So, call me however you want!
Great post!

Meredith said...

I feel your pain. My name is Meredith so you can imagine how often I've heard "?Que que?" both in Spanish speaking countries and in Brazil. Here my name is pronounced Meridichi. Ugh. But then again I can't get used to a nickname since I've never had or liked one so I guess it'll have to do.

I now carry a name tag around with me in my bag so when my co-workers ask me I can show them and they can pronounce it to the best of their ability.

Katie said...

I completely feel your pain! I, too, have written a post about the slaughter of my first name by Spanish speakers. It can definitely be frustrating, but I usually give them kudos as long as they at least make the attempt to pronounce it correctly. ;)

Lady in Lima said...

Katie, yes, I generally respond with a smile and think that the Spanish pronunciation of my name is quite sweet. The real trouble is with my Welch last name. Once someone sees it on paper they look up at me with complete confusion!

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