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Tuesday, 1 November 2011

Why do Americans spell my name wrong?

It's a simple name. Quite a conventional name, really. But it seems to me they often double up one of my letters. It's true that the doubled letter is the more usual spelling in the US, but it's far from exclusive. The most recent annoyance came on the birth certificate for our newborn. So, off I went to the records office to explain that they had my name wrong. Here's the most annoying part. I didn't spell my name wrong on the form, so someone looked at my name to add it to the birth certificate and then added an extra letter. It's as if the sensory input goes directly to the part of the brain responsibly from jumping to conclusions and making assumptions.

It's not just this example. It happens frequently. I went into the AT&T shop where they ask you for you name on entry. They call out your name when they're ready to serve you. Anyway, knowing that Americans often spell my name wrong, I informed them of the correct spelling. The final bill we got that day from AT&T still had the wrong spelling.

I've had 3 chequebooks sent to me from the bank with the extra letter. I've had my name spelled wrong on minutes of meetings after I've asked for it to be changed and on one particular correspondence with a professor via email the wrong spelling every single time despite the number of times she must have seen my name (in my email address for example).

It's one thing to assume names are spelled in a particular way without any other information (done that myself), but a whole other when the correct spelling is written down in front of you.

Given the way people make assumptions about all sorts of things, I'm resigned to having this happen again.