On names, changing them, and pronunciation

johanna johanna at nobrandheroine.net
Wed Mar 5 09:00:01 EST 2003

> Ooops.  I would have said 'maygan'.  Live and learn.
> Of course, there may be 'meegan's and 'maygan's out there as well.

Yep, I've personally encountered all three varieties of "megan"s.

> Even if it's not the way one would expect them to pronounce it.  It's
> their name.  They're right.

You wouldn't think this would be so hard for people to get, right? Sadly,
my experience proves otherwise... My name is pronounced "yo-hanna"--like
Johann Sebastian Bach but w/an "a," I tell people. But then people
pronounce it so it rhymes w/banana (uh... American pronunciation), which
sounds (to me!) horrid. It's more like... well, if you say it kinda fast
(which I tend to do), it rhymes more w/Madonna than banana!

Anyway, as you can imagine, I've been called everything from Jo-hanna to
Jo-anna to Jo-vanna (from those who aren't reading right), even to
Jonathan (from a telemarketer who REALLY wasn't reading right). And people
seem to expect me to be grateful w/anything remotely resembling my
name--especially the "rhymes w/banana" version. Phooey.

(Oh, & yeah, I realize this is an English-speaking country problem, since
I live in the US & spent a couple years in the UK--when I go to other
parts of Europe, like Austria or Germany, or Finland [I am half Finnish],
no one has any problem.)

For those of you who've changed your names, would you mind talking a
little bit about it? Like how you arrived at your new name (as opposed to
choosing something else)? I toy w/the idea of changing my name, because
aside from the pronunciation difficulty here, I am just not v. fond of it.
But I have trouble choosing a name that I think fits me w/o being too
pretentious or silly. And I feel like another name should be
momentous--there should be some big reason I'm choosing it--& nothing much
has pulled me that far. I guess I feel like one's birth name is just a
name you had no control over, & thus fairly meaningless (although to your
parents it may have had meaning), but if you name yourself later on in
life, it better -mean something-.

If anyone's read Marge Piercy's Woman on the Edge of Time, I like their
system, how you kind of rename yourself whenever you feel your name
doesn't fit anymore.


What, after all, is a halo? It’s only one more thing to keep clean.
--Christopher Fry, The Lady's Not For Burning


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