Say My Name, Say My Name

Remember when you were in school and had to have a roll call in the mornings before classes and in the afternoon after lunch? You always knew when your name was coming because you got "the pause". In the interest of anonymity (lol) let's pretend my name is a typical Asante one like Nana Owusu-Mensah. You would be sitting in registration:


"Mears?"
"Present!"
"Norton?"
"Present!"
"O'Sullivan?"
"Present!"
"Um... Oh-wa-see... Oh-wy-sa... um... Nana? Is Nana here?"

Yes this was the story of my life. At first I would scramble to help them out and say "present" before my name was butchered any further. Then my perverse side emerged and I took great pleasure in sitting there stony-faced until every last phoneme of my name had been dragged out. What acted as an impetus for this stubbornness was the awareness that composers like Tchaikovsky presented no pronunciation difficulties but my own phonetically simple name did not even merit an attempt. I mean most Asante names are spelt phonetically and basically you say what you see. I'm not asking you to have a perfect accent but you could at least try. I mean I had girls in my class whose surnames were Smagacz and Jevtic and a guy whose surname was Trtica. They were pronounced "Sma-gatch", "Yev-titch" and "Treetisa" respectively and their first names were never pronounced instead at roll call. These people could happily pronounce Agnieszka Radwanska but my proudly African name was apparently asking too much.

I know there's a lot to take on in multicultural Britain but why are some people deemed more worthy of effort than others? In an ideal world wouldn't it be great when waiting in the GP's office not to have every eye on you as the receptionist happily butchers your name? What's even more infuriating is that they always say "Oh that was a mouthful. Hope I pronounced that right" with a stupid grin on their face. And when you attempt to correct them, they look at you blankly, then shrug and say "Well at least you knew I was talking to you!" It's enough to make me want to do this:




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4 opinionated people have something to say:

Nsoromma...Child of the Heavens said...

I feel your pain, hell I lived it too! They also 'helpfully' offer to shorten it...like are u taking the mick? Did I ASK for a short form of my surname? KMT.

I have an English first name and sometimes the perverse side of me comes out when i'm in a public place, say the GP's and they butcher some poor African name (usually Nigerian) and all eyes turn to look at you.

'Oli...olu...olen....' drags off into silence and since they haven't turned up EVERYONE is looking at you as if it's you. So i've got the moodiest face on (secretly laughing inside).
'Olusa...oluwas...erm, Ms. O. Ah-bee-ooola? To Room 3'
Then even worse you get an encouraging smile from the receptionist, 'I think that was for you love'
So I look around me, make a whole production of it, 'Who, me?' Annoyed nods all around. 'Nah, sorry LOVE, my name is Priscilla' KMT

Sankofa said...

Bwuahahahaha! I thought I was the only one. You can feel those eyes burning at you and you're sitting there practically whistling. I need to write on the complexities of the British use of "love" in a sentence. The possibilities are amazing.

Afrocentric said...

They don't even make the effort to pronounce it correctly. You know how simple my last name is - yeah, they develop some sort of speech impediment when trying to pronounce that too!!

Sankofa said...

Innit doe!! ("L-O-L-s" at myself)

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