Sunday, November 9, 2008

Say My Name, Say My Name!

So I was doing a mindless questionnaire out of boredom over on the teenyboppers social networking site, also known as MySpace, when I came across a question. The question was why did my parents give me the name they did. Somehow in my mind the rabbit trail from that question led to this post, so here we go.
First of all some background: My mom's childhood neighbor was named Elissa. Obviously when you know someone with a name it becomes familiar to you. My parents chose to name me after her. All is well until I was about 7 days old and they realized there was a problem. So many people had trouble saying my name that by the time I was a week old my brother, who was 22 months old at the time, told a waitress in a restaurant that my name was "Melissa without the M" or at least that's the story as I recall it.
I have spent the rest of my life doing essentially the same thing. I was probably eight when I remember laying awake at night trying to figure out how, exactly, my mom intended people to pronounce my name. Frankly, they usually just called me "liss" (or "chubby cheeks" but that's for another post). See the problem was this: Mom's whole family calls me EEEEElissa (seriously EMPHASIS ON THE E!!!!!). My Dad's family called me something closer to Eh-lissa. People at school pronounced it like Alyssa. And those are just the pronunciations that were somewhere close to right... Then there's the great uncle who, to this day calls me Aleesa, Alicia or something else that is close but really, really not right. I have only had one teacher in my entire school career who said my name right the first time. Many of them never said it right all semester!
When I say my name I say it like the letter "L" and then "issa." Oh and then there's this... I can't ever, ever say "Hi, I'm Elissa" because then I put that pesky "m" right in front of my name and the person will invariably call me "Melissa" for the rest of my life. I learned (probably right around that lying awake incident) that I have to say "hi, my name is Elissa" or I was doomed to be mispronounced! You would think that seeing it written would help, but that only seems to make it worse!

... and my brother's name is Mark. How many times do you think someone has said his name wrong in his whole life?! :~)


Scruluce said...

first, to lessen the creep out factor of random dude posting comment, i am friend of elizabeth and acquaintance of micah. i played the linking game one day and found your blog. i became an instant follower, finding similarity in your thought process and mine.

now for official introduction - my name is Oran. in homage to your pronunciation tool, i pronounce mine like the fruit (orange), but without the lightbulb (ge). the only complication there is so many people pronounce that word differently. phonetically, i suppose i'd spell it something like Or-un. anywho ...

i work in a call center, introducing myself to every caller that comes in on my line. I've been "renamed" such things as aaron (my brother's name), ryan, warren, brian, and juan. and those are just the ones paying attention. the customers that ignored the intro completely, but try to be sly, have called me anything from steve to oscar.

believe me i feel your pain. i loved the "i'm Elissa" bit. priceless. similarly, i avoid that one as well ... i'm no moron.

Christina Ellis said...

I loved this post because to be completely honest, I've never been sure of how to pronounce your name. I've always just hoped I was right, and I think I have been.
I too have dealt with my share of name confusion. I'm hardly ever actually called Christina. People always try to shorten it to Christine, or Christy, or Tina (none of which I'd ever go by...) but I think it's even funny when someone is responding to an email I sent and they still spell my name wrong. People are just dumb. :p