Wednesday, March 23, 2011

What's in a name?

Not long ago Erika wrote in her blog about the tendency people have to misspell or garble other people's names, even quite simple ones.

Jeannie and Erik, for example.

In addition to Jeanne, Jeanie, Jeanette, consider Teannie, Leannie, Geannie, Genia, Seannig and Jene.  And how about  Emik and Drik?  Sound like a colony of cavemen, or what?

I started collecting some of these examples years ago when it became apparent that the name Hagberg was just too much for some people to handle.  So far I have logged Hagsburg, Hagbert, Hatberg, Hugberg, Hogberg, Hadberg, Hagaer, Agbag, Hagberry, Hayberry, Hagberty, Hagberd, Hoaberg, Habgerg,  and Hayberg.   Plus Mrs. Earl Hagberg,  Mr. Orvin Hazberg, Mr. Ginney Hagber.

Some of these may be attributed to people misreading my poor penmanship, of course, but Agbag?

If a fairly straightforward name like Jeannie Hagberg can get so mutilated, what must it be like for those folks with long, complicated, or "foreign" names?  My eye doctor, for example,  is named Mark Buehnerkemper.  The mind boggles.  He has solved the problem to some extent by having everyone call him "Dr. Mark", but that can only extend so far.  As for the Zwetsloots, the Urquharts, the Azavedos, the Juntunens, the Stankiewiczes, the Giovacchinis, the Zwangs,  I can only imagine the carnage that careless humans and mindless computers inflict on their family names.

As Erika pointed out,  one's name is a very personal and intimate part of one's identity and personality. There are the old stories about people saying, "I don't care what you print about me, just spell my name right!"   This applies, I think particularly,  to first names.  I don't so much mind being called Mrs. Hayberry, but for gosh sake's remember the two "n's" in Jeannie!


  1. When I worked for Mix magazine, we would occasionally get mail addressed to 'Mick's magazine'. We never could figure out who he was....

  2. This post made me laugh out loud. Habgerg!