Monday, July 25, 2005

My Very First Open Letter In Which The Bitterness Prevails

An Open Letter to All Those Who Cannot Be Fucking BOTHERED to Pronounce My Name Correctly,

I understand that my name is not necessarily normal, along the lines of the Kates and the Kellys, the Lucys and the Lauras. No, it does not come as naturally to you as that of Sarah or Sally, Bridget or Belinda. I know that. I apologise. If we have just met and I tell you my name, I fully expect you to have to say "er.. wha.. could you.. what was that there now?". I will happily repeat it, if you ask me to, as many times as you like.

Seriously. Even if we have been engaged in conversation for two hours, and we know all about each other, including our club feet, penchants for dwarves dressed as Michael Ball and our leagues of illegitimate children, I still won't mind if you lean towards me, embarrassed and a little flustered from your recent revelations and mumble that my name has escaped you for the fifth time this evening. I will repeat it again and again, until you get it right.


With the emphasis firmly heaped upon the first syllable.


Obvious? No, I admit it. Easy? YES. A tongue-twister it is not.

Because, as you know, it is spelt Léonie. Even taking into account the acute accent on the first e it still would be Lay-o-nie. But it isn't.


Listen. Don't fucking argue with me. I know it doesn't make sense. It isn't spelt that way, you whine incessantly. I know this, and I distinctly remember telling you very clearly when you asked for the spelling that it WOULDN'T HELP. Oh, you said, nodding your head, I'll get it if you spell it for me. Despairing and on the verge of defeat, I told you.

OH! You cry, relieved at the clarification.


As if, hang on, Lee-O-nie is so THICKY THICK THICK that she has spent TWENTY-THREE YEARS pronouncing her OWN FUCKING NAME WRONG!


It is, I say, resisting the somewhat overwhelming urge to rip your head off and serve your brain up with a nice chianti, not actually pronounced like that, though. I swallow. This is one of those moments in which it becomes sorely obvious to me that I am not Wolverine from X-Men, because if I was I would have steel claws protruding from my knuckles ready for some serious avenge-based action.

I am just little old Léonie, Lay-un-ie, Lay-on-me (and I will if you think it might help).
No claws of steel here.

I had teachers at school who called me the wrong name every day for seven long years. Throughout university tutors and fellow students alike called me Lee-O-nie, day in, day out. I have played in orchestras, been in plays, sung in choirs, worked in bars, offices, factories, shops, events teams. And mostly, you know, mostly people work it out after a couple of days. But there are inevitably a few that just cannot be bothered. You can hear the words that come out of your mouth, can't you? Good. Now, can you hear you're saying something that sounds a bit bloody different to the word other people are saying? Can you? Come on. Of course you can.

But you don't care. You, who swoop down on me at a social gathering, gushing with joy to see me, and trill delightedly (whilst looking over my shoulder to see if any other miserable fucker you could pounce upon has wandered into the room) "Hiiiiii!!!!!!! Leee-OOOOOO-nie!!!!! How are you? (pause for air-kiss on both cheeks) How ARE you? Soooo nice to see you..." and sweep off leaving me mumbling furiously to myself. I've TOLD you. Other people have told you.

If you don't bother to learn my name I have to assume you are an idiot. Because it's not rocket science. It's three syllables. Fuck it, you can call me Lé if you're really struggling. I don't MIND if you don't get it straight away, and as I have mentioned I will repeat it until you can get it. But if you don't CARE?

It's insulting.

And I shall have to refer to you as Knob-Knocker everytime I see you from now on.

So there.

Lots of love

(come on now, say it with me now...)

Léonie xx


Blogger Doug said...

Lee-O-nie, wait, could you repeat that for me. I never had this problem. Although sometimes when I'm on a conference call or something people will call me Dave (which sounds nothing like Doug). And then they will keep calling me Dave the whole time I have to deal with them, even in emails where the signature line at the bottom clearly reads DOUGLAS.

3:24 pm

Anonymous Jenny said...

I hope this isn't an annoying question, but is your first name pronounced the same as the last name of actress Tea Léonie? It would be great if you could post a little sound clip of your name for us. Actually, sound clips in general would be a wonderful blog addition because we could also hear, what I'm sure is your lovely singing voice, without shelling out for a ticket to London. ;)

4:48 pm

Blogger Léonie said...

I think that she pronounces her name Lee-O-nie, which is how most people do, to be honest. My mother claims she didn't make the pronunciation up, but I haven't met anyone else who pronounces it my way.
If you say it out loud to yourself - LAY-u-nie (the 'u' said the same way as the 'u' in cup, an open sounding 'uh') then you don't need a sound clippy thing. There is VERY little chance I would be able to work it anyway.
But if I work it out (read: someone else does it for me) I will do it.

5:49 pm

Anonymous Anonymous said...

that must be really annoying, people ive known forever spell my name wrong, its not even a rare name but there are many variations, and i get everyone but the right one. and then i get told is the 'boys way' when actually, its the 'proper' way. but its weird when people sort of hint " are you sure thats right...? " um, yes, yes it is!

6:33 pm

Anonymous number1hypocrite said...

While the issue isn't pronouncing my name, it is spelling it.

I never thought that the name Michael would be hard to spell. But more often than not, people spell it "Micheal". That doesn't even look right. Written that way, it'd have to be pronounced "Mike-ee-aal".

Sometimes, I think people are just stupid.

P.S. You're welcome for your picture!

6:39 pm

Blogger Leah said...

I hate hate HAAAATE when people argue with you about Stuff That Is About You. People think that they know better than the person who is actually NAMED THAT. Not that any of this rings true for me or anything. Oh, no.

If you do want to play around with a sound clip (though I'm having no problem figuring it out from your brilliant phoenetic spellings), you can try to play with Castpost. It looks cool, but I haven't messed with it yet.

10:57 pm

Anonymous Euan said...

Ooh! Oo! Like this!

Listen to how Léonie *should* be pronounced...

11:42 pm

Blogger graeme said...

Even my sister used to have trouble spelling Graeme (she's got it now, but then she is 36)... easy to say, yet apparently so difficult to spell. It is not the same name as Graham. It might sound the same, but-it is NOT THE BLOODY SAME. Ok?
I know, Leonie (haven't worked out how to do accents, sorry) that like other commenters it is the exact opposite of your problem, but it really winds me up nonetheless.
"No, it's spelled - G R A EEEEE M E"
"Dear Greame..."

11:56 pm

Blogger graeme said...

By a very spooky coincidence, my son is called Euan, like your earlier commenter. Am I extracting some kind of revenge, I wonder?

12:02 am

Blogger peashelle said...

I think your name is very pretty, and people who can't be bothered to pronounce it correctly are twits.

My trouble is with my last name; I've been married for 3.5 years and my parents still can't pronounce it.

2:24 am

Anonymous Anonymous said...

I like your name, it's cool.I was still picturing it wrong (even though I did put sincere thought into it every time I've visited) until your comment there about the 'u' in Cup. Now I know! And if I ever run into you at a party I won't be embarassed. Because, that so might happen. Yes? lol. Unique names rock. My real name is more along the lines of dumb blonde/stripper, and oddly enough, I'm neither. Oh well. Also, people online can never spell Radiant, now everyone just calls me Ray, or RayRay. I'm cool with it though.


3:44 am

Blogger Bug said...

Ok, to everyone struggling with the é? It's alt 0 2 3 3

M'dear Léonie, I think you should just ignore everyone saying your name wrong. If they aren't pronouncing it correctly, they're not talking to YOU so ignore the bastards :P

Surely if a gorgeous creature like yourself was ignoring you, you'd learn her name??

2:33 pm

Blogger JB said...

After reading your post I began to have all these feelings of guilt because I teach and on the first day when I take role there is always at least one name I can’t manage. I try to write it phonetically, make notes to myself, and repeat after my student, but sometimes I get a terrible mental block, especially if I’ve had another student who pronounces the name another way.

I do feel guilty because it absolutely sucks to have someone mispronounce your name. The hardest names for me to pronounce correctly are Vietnamese in origin. But, I think, after your post I’d have no problem with your name.

I think. :)

3:50 pm

Anonymous Anonymous said...

you can also use the 'alt gr' key (should be to the right of the space bar, at least mine is...) and press the required vowel to get á é í ó ú

4:25 pm

Anonymous Anonymous said...

i always use ctrl alt and e

4:34 pm

Anonymous Jenny said...

Thanks for the sound clip, Euan!Clearly, I've forgotten and/or blocked out my early phonics training because I just wasn't getting it before and I'm usally a very visual learner. I apologize for my earlier confusion...

4:54 pm

Anonymous Dan said...

You're all wrong.

It's Lay-nee. That's all, just Lay-nee. She loves being called Lay-nee don't you Lé?!

3:33 pm

Blogger Léonie said...

He he.. Dan and I had been going out for at least six months before I told him my name had threee syllables in it.
Actually I don't mind Lay-nee so much, it's only Lee-O-nie that drives me crazy.

5:10 pm


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