Dangerous Spelling -Monday March 22


Dear Poor Lucky Me,


I’ve encountered many people in my life whose names contain what is called the “dental fricative,” otherwise known as the “TH” sound. People with names like “Keith,” or “Beth,” or “Thermon.”


I’ve also encountered various people in my life who have a hard time pronouncing this sound, and it comes out sounding like an “F.”


Sometimes I lie awake at night wondering what will happen if I meet one of these people, and their name is “Barth.”


How can I be sure of the correct pronunciation without offending?




Dear Nervously,


The English language can be intimidating. I admire your knowledge of pronunciation and your sensitivity. There are is a good trick you can try to ease your anxiety. If you encounter someone who’s name you’re not sure of, say “what an interesting name, would you spell that for me?”.


Be aware though, it can backfire. Once I was on the phone with a guy and I said: “Ok let me write this down- will you do me a favor and spell your name for me? I’m the worst speller!” After a pregnant pause he said “Sure it’s M-I-K-E S-M-I-T-H”. I guess I should have taken a stab at pronouncing that one. Well better safe then sorry.


As far as offending people, I think that your intentions are good and that’s the best you can do. No matter how sensitive you are, you may still come across the Anferny’s and A’toole DaSchmuck’s of the world. Poor A’toole, he was such an angry guy.


Some people are looking for things to be offended by, but other people want to connect and be understood. Sometimes I think that people who take serious offense to good intentions are doing you a favor- they’re telling you a lot about themselves. Just be nice, be caring, be patient with everyone you meet no matter how the react to you. That’s the best any of can do.


Poor Lucky Me

Related Posts Plugin for WordPress, Blogger...

Speak Your Mind