Sunday, April 18, 2010

That's Not My Name

When I was in 1st grade I started spelling my name "Sylvia" because that was the way everyone else (i.e. my teachers) spelled it. As a child, I craved consistency and wanted to conform, so I just started spelling my name the more common way. I didn't have the words yet to correct people and was trying to be a good girl, two circumstances which are certainly no longer true.

My mother named me, the story goes, after a friend she knew in Switzerland. I have a cousin in Germany with the same name and she, of course, spells it the same way I do: Silvia. If I don't know you that well, I'm not bothered if you spell my name incorrectly. Really. However, if you're someone I send holiday cards to, or if you & I have shared written language, I expect that you will spell my name correctly. And, if you don't, I'm going to feel less connected to you. Harsh? Perhaps, but true.

When I read the birth announcements in the paper, which I do regularly to make certain that my children's name aren't being copied, I closely pay attention to name spelling. This probably isn't the time or the place to discuss the random placement of apostrophes in names that I frequently spot - and detest, but we can talk about the phonetic, and otherwise creative, ways I see names being spelled. Here's the deal: it doesn't matter if you spell it Chelsea, Chelsie, or Chelsey, it is still the same name. The only thing accomplished by spelling a name more "creatively" is the guarantee that A. your child's name will be spelled incorrectly on every document for the rest of their life and B. your child will never find a mass produced monogrammed item available with their name spelled "correctly." If this is your goal, by all means go crazy. Allow me to suggest Madison, Madysen, Maddisen, Maddieson.

There's this song by the Ting-Tings that makes me smile whenever I hear it. Give it a listen. And next time you're writing my name, perhaps the memory of its catchy beat will remind you to spell my name correctly.


  1. for some reason, which I can not name, I am always drawn to your blog. Maybe it's simply because I like you, but moreover I think it's because I like how you WRITE, am pulled to good stories, compelling content & enjoy your stories.
    Whatever the reason, know I am here, I read, I laugh and often wish we had out old connection. How goes the trip planning?
    Love, and admiration,

  2. Thank you, Becky. Our connection is still (t)here, just dormant due to time and distance. I think you should think about coming over for Mother's Day since Tom has to work and Albany has a great festival that entire weekend. As for the trip, that's a whole 'nother blog entry to be explored...

  3. So you wouldn't mind if we name our first son Liam Griffin Quinn Armstrong ;)
    I love your name in that it is classic yet not common and the spelling makes it unique - just like you!

  4. Andrea -

    I think Leehyam Gryphan Kwyyn R-mstrong would be better. ;D

  5. I feel like singing that song eveytime I am called Tracey...and that's just about everyday!

  6. Gee, Andrea, I think maybe you should have a girl and name her Silvia!

    @AJ - I really wish you could have thrown in a random apostrophe or 2. You know, like this: Li'am, Griph'on and Kw'n.

    Karen - I didn't even begin to explore how frequently I am called "Lilly" Thanks for reminding me!