Wednesday, November 07, 2007

What's in a Name

I once met a man named Mathew1. That was his name. His parents wanted to call him Matthew, but they misspelled his name on the birth certificate. Well, they tried to spell it correctly, I am sure, but they missed the mark.

Now I did not know Mathew as a child, but these are the memories I would expect, had he been in my class.

Teacher Interactions
Can you imagine Mat's (well, isn't this the shortened version of Mathew?) teacher correcting him time and time again.

"No, dear, you need to place two 't's after the 'a'."

For me, I would need years of counseling to undo that Kindergarten memory.

Playground Interactions
"Let's play a game. Let's step on Mat."

"M-a-t, M-a-t, what kind of name is that?"

You know, kids can be kinda cruel.

Yes, Mathew received 17 certificates in elementary school and all of them, save two, will be spelled Matthew. Not much of a reward, you know, to misspell a certificate.

I did know a guy in school who was called Michel. I thought his name was pronounced Michelle, but apparently it is a French spelling.

--> Insert comment about feminine nature of the French here. <--

Not that I would make fun of a name.

1Okay, some of you will say there are two spellings of Matthew. You will point to Mathew Rosenblum, the composer from Pittsburgh. Or Mathew Zucker, the photographer from New York. Or even earlier, Mathew B. Brady, the Civil War photographer – taking pictures of corpses, not high-heeled shoes. But if you point all of this out, my blog entry is a little pointless today.


LarryLilly said...

My birth certificate has my last name on it. My first name as shown on the front page of my birth certificate says "Boy"

When I was born they didnt know what to call me. The birth certificate has a back, obvioulsy, but who looks back on the back, and it has a rather bureaucratic stamp that says that Lawrence is the first name.
But it gets equally odd here on out.

When i was in catholic grade school, the land ruled by the Huns, I mean Nuns, I was slapped so many times my parents must have thought I was Mel Tillis kid. A very good for being slapped was when i was in 3rd grade learning cursive writing.

Now all those little dipthongs and tiddles and other pensmanship made my face so red I thought I was related to Cochise. So I did what any other kid would do, I cheated, I just could not make the "w" and then roll the last part of the "w" into the "r" so I said F'it (I didnt know what F was, but I did the 3rd grade equivalent) I told the MF'r Nun (all nuns have MF as a first name, its true, trust me) I told the MF Nun that my first name was spelled with a "u" and not a "w".

So when I applied for a social security card at 15, it has my name, and every other official document, except for my birth certificate, spelled Laurence. Now when I try to retire, this charade will surely screw things up, because I bet the people at Social Security will turn over the birth certificate, and see my name spelled with a "w".

So I can feel Mathew's pain. I really can. On my face, so many many years ago

Leesa said...

larry: when I got married, Social Security screwed up my last name, misspelling it. It took 6 months of my time to correct their error.

Ian Lidster said...

My wife, whose last name is 'Byrne' consistently gets Bryne, even on official documents, and that totally pisses her off.
She even said to somebody once, in exasperation: "Ever hear of David Byrne? So what is your problem?"
Oh, and of course, there is always 'Lisa'.
But, it's all about self-image. I have a dear friend who conistently spells my name Ean. I love her dearly, so won't correct her.

Anonymous said...

I've noticed more and more people are deliberately spelling their names in newly creative ways. My best friend in high school spelled his name as Jef. Fortunately, Prata is still using the traditional spelling.

I got three awards for my actions in Desert Shield / Storm, and not one listed my correct name or role in the military. My name isn't tricky - that's just the Army for you.

- Grant

kathi said...

Lol. Girl... Because of all the many spellings of names, it's nearly impossible to guess how to pronounce kid's names in classes, and they get offended when you do. Sorry, another post. :)

Kat said...

Quirky insight here Leesa. I've spent my whole life being asked if its Kat with a "K" or a "C" - and then watching them do it wrong.

Leesa said...

ian: my father found out that he misspelled a childhood friend's name his whole life. He found out at his funeral.

grant: my guess is that they did not want to grant you the awards. Awards clerks are like that.

kathi: growing up in school, all of my friends who were kathi's, spelled their name with a "C". Now that I am an adult, "K" seems much more common.

kat: I would get "K" with your name, but I guess it could go the other way.