Wednesday, September 1, 2010

On The Spelling (And Misspelling) Of Names

You probably have noticed, based on my blog posts, notes, e-mails, statuses, messages, IMs, comments, etc., that I am somewhat of a stickler for spelling, grammar, and punctuation. I used to be unafraid to tell people when they spelled or punctuated something incorrectly, even sometimes after it was too late. Most people, especially in this digital age, use spell check quite a bit. Although spell check does help, it is not, and probably never will be, a 100% solution. Spell check will catch when you misspell a long as it isn't spelled like another word. I've seen cases where it was obvious, at least to me, that just that happened, one of which was, "Without them I would be a wreak!" Yes, the person who wrote that meant "wreck"; however, the reason the spell check didn't pick it up was because "wreak" is just as much of a word as "wreck" is. In the past, I've been just as guilty of it as other people; that's why, if I have time, I try to read over what I've typed--I don't write things by hand if I can help it--and make sure that I've said what I wanted to say, and used the right words.
When it comes to names, though, things get a little dicey. There are some names that have tons of different spellings, some of which you can see a few examples of if you look through my friends list. For example, I have three friends named Crystal, as well as one named Krystal, and another one named Krystle. Those are all pronounced the same, yet the spelling is different. Differences in the spellings of names used to confuse me; I can still remember when I was a lot younger and a family friend sent a book called _______ Goes to Town. (Sorry, but not only do I not want to give out my name, even my first name, for all the world to see, but I also hate my name for reasons we don't need to get into.) When we received the book, my mom said, "Oh, look! It's got your name on it! That's so nice of her to send you that!" I looked at the book and at least thought, if not said, "That's not my name!" Why? Because it was spelled one letter different than my actual name.
Although different spellings of familiar names do allow parents to be creative, and make their children more unique, the spellings can also be quite hard on teachers. I went through public school from kindergarten through twelfth grade, and I saw some varied spellings of names. My best friend from seventh grade until high school graduation--yes, we still are friends; quite good friends, in fact--was named Jakob. It was pronounced just like Jacob from Genesis (or Jacob Black from Twilight, for those of you better versed in vampire stories than the Bible) but the spelling was different. At first, his name's different spelling wasn't a big deal; it didn't take the teachers long to get used to it, although one P.E. teacher at our middle school thought his name was Jakoby, and it wasn't. As far as I remember, there wasn't anyone named Jacob in the entire team. However, when we got in eighth grade--and we had the same three core teachers as we did the previous year--things got a little confusing, at least for one teacher. That teacher was preparing for her wedding, which was taking place during Christmas break of that year, and, as (I'm guessing) is usual for weddings, she had to send out invitations. One friend or family member of the groom's was named Jacob, spelled just like in Genesis. Problem was, she'd spent over an entire school year getting used to writing my friend/her student Jakob's name with a "K," that she nearly wrote that on the wedding invitation, despite the fact that her groom's friend/family member didn't spell it that way. I'm sure that kind of thing could happen, and probably has happened, to a lot of people.
Now, on the topic of misspelling of names. Again, I'm not going to give out my name, but I will say that my name is usually spelled correctly by others. Some people have had trouble with my last name, but, at least it's easily spelled, though I grew quite tired years ago of hearing people, including myself, spell it over and over. Some people hate it when other people misspell their names. I've always wondered why they did, but, since that hasn't been much of a problem for me, I can't really say I know how they feel. If I had a name that was easy to misspell, maybe I'd feel the same way.
You may think that, if very few people misspell my name, then I don't really have to deal with misspelling of names. That's not true. Although some people have misspelled names of friends, including Jakob's, it seems like most of the misspellings of names I've encountered, mostly online, have been of celebrities. You probably know that I used to be a big fan of Hilary Duff and Lizzie McGuire. Well, during that time, I saw people--both ones I knew, and ones I didn't--write things with typos like "Hillery Duff" or "Lizzy Maguire". I never was offended by people doing that; usually, it was just because Hilary and Lizzie weren't anywhere near as important to those people as they were to me. When I switched to Anne Hathaway, it didn't stop; in fact, people were worse about spelling Anne's name than they were Hilary's. People spelled her first name without the "E," and they spelled her last name "Hattheway." The misspellings increased even more after I became a fan of Siobhan Magnus; since making her my No. 3 celebrity crush early this year, I've seen everything from "Siobahn" to even "Sioben".
If any of you reading this have made any of the mistakes I've described here, I'm not making fun of you; like I said, I understand why you and others have done that. Seriously, if it wasn't for spell check, I'd have made some misspellings of proper nouns, including not just people's names, but also place names, including geographical locations, that would shock you. Just recently, I was typing a note on Facebook that, unfortunately, got deleted because of a glitch. Anyway, I was making a reference to the Philadelphia Eagles--I know that doesn't sound like something I'd refer to, but it made sense in the note--and misspelled the city's name when I first typed it. Someone who is a huge fan of that NFL team probably would spell it right most if not all of the time. However, I'm not a football fan, nor do I live anywhere in Pennsylvania, so that city's spelling isn't important to me, just like the proper spelling of Hilary Duff, Lizzie McGuire, Anne Hathaway and/or Siobhan Magnus isn't important to you, because most of you friends of mine aren't and never have been their fans, and even those who were weren't as big of fans as I am/was. Proper nouns are often harder to spell than other parts of speech, especially since they don't follow the pronunciation rules that most non-proper-noun English words follow. So, if you want to talk about somebody and/or something I like, don't think I'll be offended or even the least bit upset if you misspell his/her/its name, because I won't and never will be.
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