December 7, 2004

What’s In a Name?

What's In a Name?

I recently received a offer for a credit card due to my diligence in making my car payments on time for a few years. But, oh ho ho, there was one little wrinkle. The letter was addressed to Jason S. Maria. You may laugh, but I have been used to this my entire life. I have an odd last name and as such I am subject to people not bothering to work with it. The credit card seemed like an OK deal, so I applied, and as I am used to doing, corrected my name on the paperwork. A few weeks later I hear back. I am approved… but oh no, I am not eligible for the original terms of the application because my name didn’t match. Seems ridiculous right? The same company that I have my car loan with, and have made on time payments to (all under my correct name), can’t get it straight. The only reason I got the offer was because I, Jason Santa Maria, was in such good standing, not the impostor Jason S. Maria! I call and get the situation corrected, original terms and all. Or so I thought. I get the credit card in the mail the other day… the name is still wrong, only this time I am Jason Santamaria… and what’s that? An extra gift? My city in my address, which was right before, is now wrong. Apparently I don’t live in Philadelphia anymore, I live in Mid City West. I call again and this time, much to the dismay of the kind lady on the phone, I make her repeat all of my corrected information back to me. Then I make her repeat it all again, this time spelling all of the words. I really should be used to all of this by now.

I have been at the mercy of overly “helpful” data entry people trying to “correct” my name. Situations like the above one have made me start collecting the most interesting mail (not email, postal) I receive. I am not even talking about the junk mail addressed to all manner name variations, but the stuff sent to me from people and companies I give my name to when I order things or request correspondence. To the left you will see some of the ones that make me feel all warm inside. Sadly, none of those are doctored. I can only imagine someone reading or typing my name goes something like this: “Alright… Jason San…” at which point one of two things happen, 1) they get tired because the name is soooo cumbersome and long that they need to go take a nap and end up just mashing the keyboard with their hand before leaving their desk to fill in the rest of the name, or 2) they realize that they have heard things that start with “San” or “Santa” before, and without verifying anything, immediately assume they know what the rest must be and fill it themselves.

Do all people with a space in their last name have this problem? It is incredibly frustrating. I like my name. It’s unique and memorable. It has many different avenues to explore for making fun of me, or if you like me, nicknames. Don’t worry, I don’t mind when my friends do it… you would be shocked to learn how many nicknames I have adopted. I had to make my name very big on my site just remind myself who the hell I am.

A bit of it is the designer in me, the same part of me that scoffed at restaurant menus when I learned my first lick of typography, but there are huge usability and communication breakdowns here. These companies create forms for people like me to fill out. I follow directions and fill out their forms. I enter my first name on the line for first name, and my last name on the line for last name. I am even in the habit of leaving and extra wide space in-between the two words in my last name to help them out a bit. The companies in turn take the forms, the content of which I can only assume is now considered “open for interpretation”, and enter the information into their databases of customers. So, you tell me, at what point is this system flawed? Perhaps people get caught up in a daydream when they see my last name… lost in grade school lessons of discovery on the open seas, and thoughts of Columbus.

Commentary (95):

1. Dan Mall says… dec 7, 2004 | 10:39 pm

Don’t fret; everyone’s name gets botched one time or another. Take me for example: I’ve got a fairly easy name. Dan. Mall. Like the shopping mall. You’d think that was easy enough.


I’ve gotten Dan Hall, Dan Maul, Dan Mail, Dan Hail, pick a variation.

And that doesn’t just go for writing. Pronunciation is a whole different story. It sounds like it’s spelled. Mall. Rhymes with “call” or “fall” or any substituted consonant. People still pronounce it “Mahl” or “Male” or “Moll” (no offense, Cameron - it’s your name, not mine).

It feels good to vent. Good post, Santa Monica.

2. RJ Hampden says… dec 7, 2004 | 11:01 pm

I prefer people to call me RJ because, before the name became synonymous with hairy behemoth, my parents named me Ronald Jeremy Hampden.
Needless to say, RJ is much better.

3. nif says… dec 7, 2004 | 11:06 pm

imagine if your first name was JEN NIFF ! really, i know.

not to mention NIC COOLS! i got a double wammy on my name.
i feel your pain stan.

4. nif says… dec 7, 2004 | 11:08 pm

for real though. 2 L’s. people think im a freak and i dont know how to spell my own last name…that or im stuttering.

5. Sean Immonen says… dec 7, 2004 | 11:16 pm

Michael Stecker? That’s not even close to Santa Maria. Kind of speaks to how forgiving the postal service is that the mail even reaches you.

On an almost related note, I love coming across referrers that spell my name wrong. It’s like, “you got the url right, you’d think you could spell it the same way a second time?” Happens with “Designalog” and “Shawn Inmon” or more recently “Shaunin Men”—what nationality is that?

6. Nick Finck says… dec 7, 2004 | 11:19 pm

Jason, I admit your problem is worse than mine, but I understand how you must feel in oh so many ways.

Now just imagine the issues I have to deal with educating people to properly respect brands. To this date I have seen my magazine’s name listed out these ways:

- DigitalWeb
- Digital-web
- digital-web
- digitalweb
- Digital Web Mag
- Digitalweb
- digitalwebmag
- Digital-Web Magazine

…none of which are correct. It should be Digital Web Magazine. So you can imagine I am always careful about how we publish other brand names such as Stopdesign, Adaptive Path, mezzoblue, THREE.OH, Australian INFront, etc., etc.

7. Keith says… dec 7, 2004 | 11:19 pm

Oh man, sounds like a pain. And I thought my name was a pain. My D. gives me all sorts of problems. I mean how hard is it — My first name is David but I go by Keith. I’ve had the EXACT same problem as you, ‘cept with my first and middle name.

Oh well…

8. Carl says… dec 7, 2004 | 11:28 pm

I have the same problem. The Carl is not usually too bad, though I become Karl from time to time…

But Holscher has been mangled beyond belief. The most common is wanting to add another L in there somewhere like Holschler when pronounced over the phone. I ask myself where did that second L come from. It’s not there when I write it.

The best/worst case of name mangling goes to my father.

His name is Dirck Holscher.
He once received a letter addressed to Fic Orch.

I’m not even going to TRY to figure that one out.

9. Jason Santa Maria says… dec 7, 2004 | 11:30 pm

My mom has it even worse, Mary Ann. Poor woman… she married into that name.

10. Dante Evans says… dec 7, 2004 | 11:45 pm

Jason, you have a cool last name; it’s a shame it’s not appreciated. In fact, I pondered changing my name to “Dante Santa Maria”

11. Ryan Parman says… dec 8, 2004 | 12:00 am

The worst one I’ve ever seen.

A friend of mine, named Kimberly, got married to an oriental man named Johnny Kim.

She then became Kim Kim.

12. jeremy says… dec 8, 2004 | 12:29 am

Poor Mary Ann Santa Maria! That takes the cake though Koempel, my last name, encourages a great deal of interpretation.

13. gb says… dec 8, 2004 | 12:41 am

I have one of the dullest names out there (Greg Bowers), but somehow I get my name mangled on a constant basis. Bowers becomes Bower, which becomes Bowen, Bauer, Bover, Tower(s), Powers, among other things. Greg becomes Gregg (not too bad, but you get it all your life and it becomes insanely annoying), and Craig. I even got a few addressed to Graig Powden. Seriously.

At least your name has some flair…

14. Jason Beaird says… dec 8, 2004 | 12:50 am

This is great. I feel so much better about my last name. So people leave out a vowel or try to over pronounce it…at least I’m not Jason Santa Beard :)

15. Mike Rundle says… dec 8, 2004 | 1:16 am

Reminds me of my friend John Riemenschneider. Yup, he had to write his whole name out in Kindergarten, and boy did we laugh!

16. Gabriel Mihalache says… dec 8, 2004 | 4:49 am

You should have made her repeat your info as character encoding, you know, stuff like ê and so on. Or maybe like in kindergarden:

J for Jewel
A for Apple
S for Summer
… :-)

17. Ben Sekulowicz-Barclay says… dec 8, 2004 | 4:57 am

You get no sympathy for me, you simple named moaners…

18. Dave Child says… dec 8, 2004 | 5:05 am

“Dave Child”
“C - H - I - L - D. Like a little adult.”
“Oh, Child!”

But the really impressive one was the letter that arrived addressed to “Davina Chill” (I assumed it was supposed to be for me).Sounds like a porn star name …

19. Oz says… dec 8, 2004 | 5:16 am

My name seems to be the hardest to pronounce name in history. oscar duignan somehow that turns into dugan or dignan. It is very frustrating when you are waiting in a que and you hear them broadcasting your name for all to hear.

20. Chip Adams says… dec 8, 2004 | 5:41 am

Although my name is pretty straight forward and causes very little confusion, I have had my last name spelled ATOMS… yes, as in multiple atomic particles.

21. Andy Budd says… dec 8, 2004 | 5:42 am

Maria J Santa - classic.

You know what you should do next time you get an incorrectly named card. Max it out and then when they send you the bill, send it back saying nobody by that name lives at your address.

22. Dan Mall says… dec 8, 2004 | 7:51 am

Dante, I believe Stan is unmarried, so maybe you can still get the name legitimately. Just pop the question.

23. Jemaleddin says… dec 8, 2004 | 7:58 am

You think Jason Santa Maria is bad?


Imagine being an irish guy named Jemaleddin trying to get on an airplane.

24. Steve Smith says… dec 8, 2004 | 8:25 am

Well at least you have an interesting and memorable name. I’ve got to compete with every other Steve Smith out there for any name recognition whatsoever. But people can usually spell it correctly.

25. Marty DeAngelo says… dec 8, 2004 | 8:44 am

My true name (Mario C. DeAngelo - Italian enough for ya?) has been mangled incessantly, particularly since I use ‘Marty’ interchangably. The worst: C. DeMario … I’m not even sure how they got that permutation.

But I have it easy than a family I used to work for. Clayton Bright (the sculptor) married Starr Cummins … who only changed her name after having children - to Starr Bright.

26. wayne kobylinski says… dec 8, 2004 | 9:12 am

you will now forever be maria j. santa to me. it even tells a little xmas story: mary…j[esus]…santa.

“kobylinski” understandably gets distorted (my favorite was “kobayashi”), but i like it when “wayne” becomes “whayne” or “whane” or “wane” or “wyne.” maybe i should just remove the vowels and be wyn kblnsk.

27. Moises Kirsch says… dec 8, 2004 | 9:31 am

This reminds me the thousands & thousands of times that I had to spell both of my lastnames to almos everyone.

I’m a Mexican but since I’m jewish both of my last names are kind of weird in here (and in Mexico you use both, your fathers and your mothers): Kirsch Sandler…

Thanks god for Adam Sandler… now I only have to spell my first last name and when I’m lucky for the second one I only need to say “like the comedian, Adam Sandler” wich works like 15% of the times.

28. Jared Christensen says… dec 8, 2004 | 9:40 am

If one more person calls me “Jerry”…

29. Allan Rojas says… dec 8, 2004 | 9:50 am


I live in Costa Rica, and there’s a national historic hero downhere.… guess his name… Juan (John) Santamaria…

He was the only one who dared to turn on fire a house where invaders where sleeping… back in 1856. After that event, he had no problems at all with his name…

Maybe all you need to do is make some outrageous heroic thing…

30. bearskinrug says… dec 8, 2004 | 12:31 pm

Complain, Complain Complain! They should change your last name to Jason Santa Complain.

31. avianto says… dec 8, 2004 | 12:43 pm

Ah, names. Born in a non-English speaking country earned me a “nice” first name. It’s ok if I live in that country or any non-English country but since right now I live in an English speaking country, sometimes I want to change my name.

Oh, the first name in question? “Boy”. Yep, I have “Boy” as a first name, can you imagine the pain ;)

32. Leons Petrazickis says… dec 8, 2004 | 1:08 pm

Have you considered spelling your name with a dash? Id est Santa-Maria. That gets the point across, while maintaining the pronunciation and the capitalization. The dash is a common feature in Muslim last names like Al-Janabi. :)

33. Greg says… dec 8, 2004 | 1:15 pm

I really hate it when the dorks at Starbucks demand to know my name so they can write it down on the cup that will hold my drink. I tell them Greg and I get questioned and asked to repeat. For some reason this happens a lot.

It goes something like this:


No, Greg.


No Greg.

One ‘g’ or two?

Look, just write Batman ok?


Yes, Batman. Iced latte for Batman.


34. Derwood Eadie says… dec 8, 2004 | 1:47 pm

Me: “Hi, my name is Derwood.”
New Acquaintance: “What?”
Me: “Derwood.”
NA: “Hah. Like on ‘Bewitched!’”

I hate that.

Nevermind the multitude of spellings and pronunciatons: Durwood, Durward, Darwood, Deerwood (ooo, I hate that one), Derwwon. Then throw in my last name, which then gets inverted with my first, and I become Eddie Derwood.

So I usually just go by Woody, which has just two versions, the other being Woodie, and I’m okay. This nick-name is no longer amusing when meeting new people, though: “Woody? So… do you have a Woody?” Like I haven’t heard that 3,247 times already.

35. Jesse J. Anderson says… dec 8, 2004 | 2:10 pm

gahh, this sounds familiar…

First off is the misunderstanding-


When they finally get my name Jesse, then comes the misspelling-

Gessy(got that one once)

I mean come on… it’s in the freaking bible.

And of course the unfortunate middle initial of “J” which I happen to like when spelling out my name (as in Jesse J. Anderson) which EVERYONE assumes MUST be James…which leads to people calling my James when they see me a second time.

jeez, okay done ranting…at least my last name only has 2 way to spell it.

36. Andrea Piernock Barrish says… dec 8, 2004 | 2:20 pm

Worst for me was a school ceremony—we had to write on index cards exactly how we wanted our names pronounced when we got to the stage, and they still managed to mangle it up. How difficult is “ANN-dree-ah KRIS-teen PEER-knock”? Oh nevermind, I’m talking about KKF here. Let’s not even get started on all the mistakes to my name since I’ve been married. No one wants to acknowledge that my last name is now my middle name and there’s a new last name. Is it so unbelievable that a woman can change her whole name when she gets married? Still too many people think that a woman will just change her last name to that of her husbands. Bah.

37. David Paull says… dec 8, 2004 | 2:27 pm

This is fun because my name has been botched all my life. The most common is people leaving off the second “l” and going with David Paul. What’s worse is I get called Paul all the time. Then there’s the whole, “do you prefer Dave or David?” Seriously, what the hell do I care?

38. nick santilli says… dec 8, 2004 | 2:39 pm

lmao - this is a great post/list of comments!

my name’s not as bad as some here - SANTILLI - sound it out for crying out loud!
yet I’ve gotten mail like:

But it’s ok when solicitors call and ask for one of those - simple, “THAT person ain’t here!” click.

39. feaverish says… dec 8, 2004 | 2:41 pm

My problem is giving my name out over the phone. Try spelling it out, especially if, like me, you’re a chronic mumbler. I get Seaver, Seaber, Feaber — almost anything seems easier for people to grasp than Feaver.

In the end, it’s easier for me to just adopt several identities. As far as the pizza place down the road is concerned, I’m Mr. Seaver, and as long as I get my pizza, that’s okay with me.

40. Beerzie Yoink says… dec 8, 2004 | 2:55 pm









41. Jeni says… dec 8, 2004 | 4:01 pm

I’ve gotten every variation on my name. Some days it’s a simple Jenny. Others, it’s Jenni or Jennie. Once, it was Jenney. My company’s HR person misspelled it on everything for awhile, which caused no end of frustration.

The SO has it just as bad. His last name is “Lowrance,” which is pronounced with a long O. Usually, it just gets misspelled or mispronounced as Lawrence. Or Lowrence. Or Lawrance. Once, he got mail (his insurance policy, no less!) for “Orwange T Lawrence.” We’re still scratching our heads about that one.

42. Matt O’Dell says… dec 8, 2004 | 4:01 pm

I know how you feel Jason. Having an apostrophe in my name has caused many misspellings, including but not limited to

Matt O. Dell

It’s just how certain people set up their CMS’s. Have you ever spelled your name to someone on the phone and when you say apostrophe, they stop and have to think about how to add that in your system? It’s even better when I fill out registration online and they say my name is “Not Valid” because of the apostrophe. You’d think someone would be able to write that in their systems, but no suck luck…

43. nick santilli says… dec 8, 2004 | 4:14 pm

oh, and small off-shoot - I just noticed my spam folder in gmail - lots of things labelled to
nick santarosa (which is kinda cool, but still not my name…)

44. Lea says… dec 8, 2004 | 4:39 pm

Ah, naming fun. Here’s my tale:

Hi Lee

It’s Lea.


(sigh) No. It’s like… the princess. From Star Wars.

Your name is spelt wrong.


And then there’s my last name:


Uh, my last name is completely phonetic, using short vowels, without any strange letter combinations. It’s Alcantara. Al-can-ta-ra.

The “Maria J. Santa” reminds me of school rosters, where they write it like this:

Middle Name First Name, Last Name

Thus, my name would look like this:

Cristine Lea, Alcantara

And yep, a lot of teachers called me Cristine. I bet that’s how they messed your name up, too. Some yoo hoo didn’t know how to read the roster list well enough.

45. David van Wert says… dec 8, 2004 | 5:56 pm

I feel your pain. I’ve noticed that many databases don’t allow even the possibility of spelling my last name correctly. I got a space and a lower case— nothing but grief.

46. Nick says… dec 8, 2004 | 6:13 pm

I can relate with this, back when I was living at my old address in the burbs i used to get letters addressed to “Nick 2015” instead of “Nick Zois” every now and then.

The company even had the motto -

“Here at company X, we treat you like a member, not a numer”.


47. Brian Mork says… dec 8, 2004 | 7:20 pm

Try having the last name Mork… with comments ranging from “Oh, named after Robin Williams” (no, I was born before the show and the name is a Norwegian bloodline, thank you very much) to “Nanoo nanoo!” and “Where are your suspenders?” Oh, and let’s not forget the fun when the girl you just met is ACTUALLY named Mindy… that never ceases to be a painfully drawn out process requiring an ID flash eventually… :(

- B

48. Fernando Dunn II says… dec 8, 2004 | 8:49 pm

Jason, I must say that you do have a cool last name. It kind of just rolls off. Your website address, also works. Not many names can pull it off, especially something over 11 characters.

For instance, I recently got discouraged from using my full name as a new domain name. just looked too ugly with the “dod” in the middle.

I commend you and sometimes resent the composition of the letters in my name. Never be ashamed or “take no crap” from anyone about it.

49. Mad says… dec 9, 2004 | 4:24 am

My problem’s slightly different. I have a nickname. I have had this nickname since I was a baby. After 33 years I’m very used to it. My nickname is “Mad” and my full name is “Matthew.”
Now the first difficulty this causes is introductions: “Hi I’m Mad” is a very poor way to meet people and I always therefore use my full name when meeting people for the first time. Which leads to my next difficulty. This conversation sums it up:
“Oh hey Matt, could you…”
“If you abbreviate my name it’s ‘Mad’”
“I said Matt”
“Yes you said Matt, please use Mad”
*puzzled silence*

50. Tom Phippen says… dec 9, 2004 | 4:49 am

Mr Philpen, Fippin, Phillipen, Phipin is from tele sales

when asked to spell it
Me: p-h-i
them: yes
Me: double p
them: i-n?
Me: E-n

The best was my last year of school, my name was being read out for some reason. The Deputy Head, who had taught both me and my brother said “Tom fi.. phi.. Philpen” in front of 500+ peers.

51. Laurence Hygate says… dec 9, 2004 | 6:07 am



52. John Serris says… dec 9, 2004 | 6:14 am

I got a letter addressed to “John Circus” once. Don’t ask… ;)

53. Richard Rutter says… dec 9, 2004 | 7:23 am

Richard’s easy enough. Rarely a mistake there.

But Rutter? Fairly unusual I’ll admit, but not exactly hard to spell. Even so, the number of times I’m accused of being a Butler or a Rotter…

Still, not as unfortunate as a Welshman of Vietnamese extraction I used to live with. He is called Hai Ho (as in off to work we go, obviously) and went on to become a teacher. Mr Ho. And what do you say when you meet him in the street? ‘Hi Hai’ is fine. But some folks used to get all flustered and say ‘Hi Ho’ which to his credit amused Hai no end.

54. Jeremy Amos says… dec 9, 2004 | 8:37 am

A friend’s wife is also of Vietnamese descent…her name’s Phi (fee), so they get calls all the time for Phil.

Aside from the obvious homonym on my last name, I once made reservations for dinner…

reservation for 2 please
last name?
Ay mose
Can you spell that?
A - M - O - S

When my date and I arrived at the restaurant, I was informed that there was no reservation in my name. We pored over the reservation book together. Finally, I pointed to an entry and said “There it is…”


55. Brian Behrend says… dec 9, 2004 | 9:23 am

What pisses me off is that probably 90% of Brians spell it with an ‘I’, but that dang 10% of the Y’s out there ruin it for us. Everytime I say my name they ask, with an ‘I’ or a ‘Y’? Why does it even matter, just write it down. Then there is the inevitable ‘Brain’ misspellings.

Behrend is a great last name, just like Nick I always know when telemarketers are calling.

Behrend, pronounced Bare End, you know like a naked ass?

56. Peter Santa Maria says… dec 9, 2004 | 9:58 am

Indeed, being Jason’s brother, I have also seen my share of name mangling. I have gotten all of the ones my brother has gotten, but my favorite was “Peter Santos”.

The problem? The people who are trained to do these customer service / data entry jobs:
1.)do not pay attention
2.)are under tight deadlines and quotas, so they type faster and make more mistakes
3.)a lot of these jobs are being moved to India and other foreign countries where people are not familiar with or do not speak English
4.)don’t really give a shit cause they are getting paid minimum wage.
5.)all of the above.

I recently got married, and my wife’s name is Marina D’Angelo. I don’t know what is worse, having spaces in your name, or having an apostrophe. She gets just as much name-mangled mail as I do.

57. Ole Hansen says… dec 9, 2004 | 11:46 am

My full name is Ole Kofoed Hansen, and the Kofoed is part of my first name, not the last.

Since I live in Denmark, my name is not at all unusual. Ole is one of the most common first names, so it rarely gets mangled - same goes for Hansen.

Kofoed does have 4 different possible variants: Kofod, Koefod, Koefoed, but the 3 others are rather uncummon.

However, when it comes to putting the parts together, some people just don’t get it. I have received mail for Kofoed Hansen, Ole as if the middle name was part of my last name. This wouldn’t be so bad were it not for the fact that I usually introduce myself as Ole Hansen (without Kofoed) on the phone, so they can’t find me in their database.

In some cases Kofoed gets shortened to its initial, which once resulted in my being called Olek.

But the worst part is trying to get foreigners to pronounce my first name correctly. That o-sound is simply not used in English.

58. Morgan Knutson says… dec 9, 2004 | 7:13 pm

People always mess up my name, It’s pronounced with the K. As in kah-noot-son. Even when i tell people they still end up saying the cottage cheese brand Knudsen (nood-sen). My friends all used to say kah-nut-sack.

59. Joe Clay says… dec 9, 2004 | 9:25 pm

It’s hard to mess up my name. The only time people mess up my name is when they call me Joseph. Then I tell them “no, it’s just ‘Joe’” and then I have to explain that I’ve never been a Joseph and that on my birth certificate it says ‘Joe’, period. You would not believe how hard it is to convince someone that I know what the hell my name is. People will insist that I can’t possibly be ‘Joe’ and that I have to be ‘Joseph.’ Many teachers and professors decide to call me Joseph if they don’t ask me what my name really is at the start of the semester, some of them I’ll tell them I’m ‘Joe’ and they’ll still call me ‘Joseph.’

I’ve met one other person in my entire life who was just ‘Joe’ and he felt my pain.

Once at work someone whom I’ve known for all the time I’ve been there left the ‘e’ off of my name, which makes me a woman, so I wasn’t even sure it was me.

Mr. Airbag (a.k.a. Batman), that tells you not to go to Starbucks, doesn’t it!

Jason, at least you’re not Mrs. Chanandler Bong.

60. Joe Clay says… dec 9, 2004 | 9:41 pm

Oh I forgot the best one. When I was in high school we had a juried art show and a few of my pieces were in it. The judge’s name was Joe Klay, and I’m not kidding. When I won a few awards people were confused as hell. I thought it was pretty funny, especially when I introduced myself to myself.

61. Ryan Romero says… dec 9, 2004 | 10:30 pm

Ryan Romeo …Ryan Romeo.…where for outh my Ryan Romeo…oh yesssss..the elementary school memories…well at least the name attracted a lot of the girls hahaha.…

62. Prabhath Sirisena says… dec 10, 2004 | 5:32 am

Prabhath Sirisena.


Yes, that IS my name.

It’s Sinhalese, from Sri Lanka. You know where that is?

63. Nick Fitzsimons says… dec 10, 2004 | 10:18 am

When I was eleven, I started at a new school where the pupils were known by last names. The form lists were called out and we all dispersed to our new form rooms, where it took me a while to work out that the talk of having a German in our form was due to a mishearing of my name as “Fritz Simons”…

64. Kim Siever says… dec 10, 2004 | 11:42 am

I certainly do not have two last names, but does a first name commonly perceived as a girl’s and three middle names count? I get misspellings all the time.

65. Liz MacDonald says… dec 10, 2004 | 12:06 pm

Let’s see…MacDonald. “As in the farmer or the restaurant?” *sigh* “As in the farmer”. Jeez, like I have never freaking hear that before. Go on, sing it, SING IT. I really do hate the fact that this is the first association that people make when meeting me…either the restaurant or the farmer. Oh, and to add a little more fuel to the fire, I have red hair.…this means that nasty little elementary and middle school kids had a hell of a time teasing me. “Ronald McDonald, Ronald McDonald”. “IT’S THE FARMER, NOT THE RESTAURANT”. Jerks. If Jason and I ever do decide to get married…I am not sure what to do with my last name. MacDonald, Santa Maria.…so then it can be “Santa Maria? Like the Nina, the Pinta, and the Santa Maria?”

66. Kim Siever says… dec 10, 2004 | 12:08 pm

“people think im a freak and i dont know how to spell my own last name”

Tell me about it, nif. I once got into an arguemnt with someone who said I was pronouncing my last name wrong.

”’Woody? So… do you have a Woody?’ Like I haven’t heard that 3,247 times already.”

Oh, I know all about it. I say somethig witty. The other person reponds with ,”Yeah. Whatever…Kimberly! Hah! Kimberly! You’re a girl!” I thought I was going to get away from that when I left elementary school. Apprently, I left, but many adults have not.

“It’s even better when I fill out registration online and they say my name is “Not Valid” because of the apostrophe. You’d think someone would be able to write that in their systems, but no suck luck…”

My daughter has an accent in her first name and one in her second middle name. We deal with this all the time.

“Then I tell them “no, it’s just ‘Joe’” and then I have to explain that I’ve never been a Joseph and that on my birth certificate it says ‘Joe’, period.”

Yep, I know all about it. “Kim? Is that short for Kimball?”.

67. Joe Clay says… dec 10, 2004 | 12:52 pm

Kim, what kind of idiot came up with the name Kimball? Is that really a name? I mean seriously, Kimball!? Who would make that association?

68. Kim Siever says… dec 10, 2004 | 3:40 pm

“Who would make that association?”

The same people who refuse to accept that my name is Kim because it is a girl’s name, o they look for a reason to justify their disbelief.

69. Bernhard Hörlberger says… dec 11, 2004 | 11:09 am

Try explaining the Umlaut, and how to pronounce it in a non-German-speaking world!

I’ve been everything from Horridberger to Hamburger!

70. Zara Gonzalez says… dec 11, 2004 | 5:52 pm

My name has been spelled wrong SO many times. The most common is when people end my last name with an “s” although there have been many other weird interpretations as well.

My first name is by far the worst though. Anyone who met me while Joe Millionaire (blech) was on TV insisted that my name had to be “Zora” like the girl who won. I’ve also gotten Sara, Zura, Zorro, Zima, and all sorts of other things.

My favorite though is when I say my name is Zara and they give me a blank stare - “Zara? is that short for anything?”

“No, it’s just Zara”

“Are you sure it’s not short for Zarathustra?”

Course, then there are my sister whose name is Candida and my brother (yes brother) whose name is Alexis. Lots more mangled mail there.

71. katharine says… dec 12, 2004 | 12:34 pm

My name’s Katharine.
Christine? Kathleen? Crystal? Christie? Kathy?

No. Katharine.

And then come the myriad spellings:

“Katharine. Like Katharine Hepburn.”


72. katharine says… dec 12, 2004 | 12:36 pm

PS: Husband’s name is Aaron, and he always gets “Erin”. Isn’t Erin always, 100% of the time, a girl’s name?

73. Robert Dumas says… dec 12, 2004 | 3:57 pm

O brother! You think you’ve got it bad? As you can see, I have a name which is quite easily mangled. Often I get mail addressed to “Robert Dumass”, but I think the worst was probably when I got a few peices of junk mail addressed to a “Robert J Dumbasole”.

74. seeks says… dec 12, 2004 | 9:44 pm

i have a friend whose last name is krzykwa. um… i think that’s how you spell it.
and this week i got to cross gender lines with the post office. got a letter for jesse corey.

75. Matt Davis says… dec 13, 2004 | 12:00 pm

My favorite Jason Santa Maria variant came from living in Kutztown. A credit card offer for Jason Satin Maria. It’s almost like a pimpin name. Matthew Davis is a pretty easy spell, although I get people who immediately transpose it into Dave Matthews. To quote Michael Bolton from Office Space. “I hate that no-talent ass clown!”

76. Kevan Emmott says… dec 14, 2004 | 11:20 am


Kevin, Keven
Emmot, Emmitt, Emmett
and often Emmott as the first name.

Besides, it’s your “IDs” that are the real identifier anyway, in this world of email, networks, and the web… Here at work I’m oecma62 (no idea why). On most everything everywhere else, I’m kemmott. And there’s the original ID, your SSN.

77. Jack says… dec 15, 2004 | 1:59 pm

I once worked with someone named Demarius George. She changed her last name when she got married, and then it wasn’t as interesting.

78. Matt Galaviz says… dec 15, 2004 | 9:34 pm

That sounds pretty bad, and I’m glad I’m not the only one who gets their name butchered. Everytime I say my name I have to spell it g-a-l-a-v as in victor-i-z as in zebra. If I don’t, I’ll get something like galabic or something along those lines. It’s the damn v sounding like a b and z sounding like a c. I used to run in high school and ocassionally get my name in the paper and I don’t think I ever saw it spelled correctly.

79. Chris Nicholls says… dec 16, 2004 | 1:07 pm

I was born one of life’s mumblers.
I can’t even pronounce my own name intelligibly half the time.
I once took a film to get it developed and they asked my surname for the ticket.
Me: “Nicholls”
Assistant: “Jeffries” (writes it down)
This was so wide of the mark I was too flabbergasted to try and correct him, so I meekly let it go.
I felt really stupid later going back and collecting the pictures as “Mr Jeffries”.
What if they’d asked for ID?

80. Kemie Guaida says… dec 16, 2004 | 2:44 pm

My first and last names are as weird in Mexico as they are in any other place. I, too, used to spell it endlessly, but have learned not to unless it’s critical the spelling be right. Otherwise I’m Kenny, Kenia, Kevin, Kermit,Kermie and my last name can be Guarda, Guardia, Guayda, Wayda…

it’s like name-lotto!

81. Lee says… dec 17, 2004 | 3:06 am

Three more tales to add:

With my first name being Lee, I get all sorts of letters where I am addressed as Ms.

With my surname (last name) being Penney, I am often referred to by email (due to Outlook using surname, firstname for address puposes) as Penney Lee.

So at least they get your sex right.

And the last? I knew a guy called Pete Munday, who had immense trouble booking things over the phone because everthing ended up be booked for Monday, even if he wanted it for another day of the week.

82. Brian St. Pierre says… dec 17, 2004 | 9:48 am

At the risk of piling on late in the game… most of you whiners have no *punctuation* in your last name!

Ahh, the fun of having the clerk at the local movie shop try to find St. Pierre in the database.

“How do you spell that?”

“Well, I spell it S-T-period-space-P-I-E-R-R-E, but I have no idea what you have in the computer.”

“Hmm. I don’t see it here. Are you sure it is in your name? Have you rented here before?”

“Yes. Try it without a space.”


“Maybe without a period?”


“How about no period, but with a space?”

An eternity later…

“Oh here it is. Someone put an asterisk in front of it.”

“An asterisk? Because it wasn’t hard enough to find already?”

83. Leigh D’Sylva says… dec 23, 2004 | 9:55 am

This is one of the funniest posts I’ve read. I actually laughed out loud at some of the mis-spellings and mispronunciations. I’m glad it’s not only happened to me.


Leader Silver

84. Matthew Robertson says… feb 12, 2005 | 1:57 am

It’s not just you. Some people on TV have the problem as well.

Take Mahershalalhashbaz Ali from the 4400, the mini-series.

Or Jesus, the wrestler, who pronounces it “Hey-Zeus”, but gets discriminated when they see it’s spelt the same as our Christ.

85. Ian Lloyd says… mar 17, 2005 | 12:06 pm

The number of times I’ve made an effort to point out that there are two, yesy TWO letter Ls in my surname only to discover that they then write it out as Llyod. Look, you incompetent fools, I know the two-Ls thing is a bit strange and it seems like just one would do the job, but honestly … read it to yourself: phonetically that comes out as ‘Lee-odd’. Oh, you can’t read as well as spell/pay attention? That’d be why!

86. Ian Lloyd says… mar 17, 2005 | 12:12 pm

Here’s a fun one for you: it’s a good job you guys don’t also live in West Ho!. Because that full stop after the exclamation mark was not a grammar mistake - Westwood Ho! actually has the exclamation mark as part of its name. Admittedly it sounds like a bunch of hip hop fans at an event cheering for Tim Westwood. Perhaps Richard Rutter’s example from earlier - Mr Hai Ho from Westwood Ho!

87. Les says… mar 21, 2005 | 5:49 am

Feeling all the pain folks;

Having the name Leslie Cochrane (pronounced Kokran - but is hard to say properly unless you’re Scottish) gets all kind of responses. And kids are just plain mean…

The best one was when I was playing basketball at High School in the US (I’m a Brit) and got announced in the starting lineup for my team…

Playing number 40 your starting power forward - Leeeesslieee Coke Raaaiiinn!

For about 3 months the nickname was ‘Soultrain’ - one I always chuckle at.

88. jeni lowrence says… jun 17, 2005 | 10:02 am

Jeni.… I know how you feel .. however it is kind of bizzare that you’re talking about SO and his name being Lowrance.. :) considering mine..

but my name is pronounced Lowrence as in Lawrence.. it gets everyone EVERY time.. i’ve had letters to
Lowrents (yeah nice)

you name .…
never mind the fact that my middle name is Evelyn… i’m not even going there ! :)

89. Dave Simon says… jun 23, 2005 | 3:15 pm

The first thing I thought of when I saw those envelope pictures was the episode of the Simpsons when Bart gets a credit card in the name of the dog.

But instead of Santas Little Helper, the card is in the name Santos L. Halper.

It’s rare people get my name wrong, at least the Dave part. The Simon one gets pronounced/spelled Simmon, Simmons, Simons. I always say Simon, as in Simple Simon. Which is demeaning, in a way, but oh well.

My wife, meanwhile, had the maiden name Peck. She got Peak, Pecks, Beck. All sorts.

Funny story though, her father’s name is Richard, but he goes by Dick. Dick Peck. Any thoughts on how well that went over on the playground? It’s almost as bad as my ex-neighbor, Dick Cox.

90. Dave Holland says… jun 26, 2005 | 4:26 am

My last name is Holland. If you say it fast, it’s easy to drop the “D”. So, I get Hollin, Hollen, Hoiland, etc.

Usually, when the spelling is important, I’ll say…”Dave Holland…Holland, like the country.” And then, of course, our geographically challenged hotel clerk/restaurant hostess/whatever gives me the blank stare…

Also, I’m named after my father, so technically there should be a Jr. appended to the end of my name. But that always throws the online registration systems into a fit so I usually just drop the Jr.

Ain’t life grand? :-)

91. Jason Granger says… jun 30, 2005 | 12:18 am

I don’t get many misspellings on my name, but once my mom got a letter in the mail addressed to “LisaG ranger.” I laughed and laughed…

92. Adriano Castro says… jul 6, 2005 | 10:03 am

What about being Adriano Castro and living in the UK?!

someone: “And your name?”
me: “Adriano Castro.”
someone: “Pardon…”
me: “That’s Adrian with an ‘o’ in the end. And Castro, like Fidel.”
someone: “Oh… I see!”

And, in the end, they still get it wrong.

93. Hope Santa Maria says… jul 25, 2005 | 3:22 am

I have the EXACT same problem. Well, so does my father and my mother before when she had that last name.

94. Trixia Paculan says… aug 6, 2005 | 1:09 pm

I would like to know what Allan K. real name? So can you please give it to me now On this Post Commentary.

95. zara *roisin* !! says… jan 3, 2006 | 10:32 am

my name is zara aswel my problem is that they can either not spell it properly or my big problem is that zara is not my real name its actually roisin so zara is my middle name so whenever in school or whatever thay call me roisin but i dont realise that there alling me because ive always been called zara!!! xxx