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Author Topic: Dear Starbucks, let's not be best friends
Bella Bee
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quote:
Welsh names are somewhat notorious for having a lot of extra letters, and paired Ds are very common.
But you pronounce them like the 'th' in 'the'.
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Dobbie
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quote:
Originally posted by Jake:
quote:
Originally posted by Samprimary:
quote:
Originally posted by Jake:
quote:
Originally posted by aeolusdallas:
So you are getting mad about the same thing you are telling Ornico not to get mad about.

Sorry. Ornico is good, but nothing beats Samprany of Orincolo.
I have a giant hat
As befits the Samprany of Orincolo.
In the Welsh alphabet DD is considered a separate letter.
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Dan_Frank
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You quoted the wrong person, but your point is well taken. Didn't know that!
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Lissande
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The name thing is done in Starbucks in Prague, but not all the time. Pretty much as a coffee identifier when there's a big crowd, as is done elsewhere. I have been known to use my daughter's name too, or make up a random name, because I also don't enjoy repeating my unusual (for here) name a couple of times only to have it misspelled.

Of course, you could always do as I do and get a distinctive tumbler that never needs distinguishing from the others. [Big Grin]

Also, if any Czechs say "lady" in English, they probably mean "paní" - just like in Polish, it means Mrs., ma'am and Lady (as a noble title). Just like pan means Mr., sir and Lord.

Just as a point of interest [Smile]

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The Rabbit
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Lissande, I'm curious. At the Starbucks in Prague, when they ask for a name do Czechs normally give their first name or their last name? In Germany, I would expect most people to give their last name in that situation. Of course, its possible that most of the customers at the Starbucks in Prague are ex-pats not Czechs.
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Orincoro
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I'd expect they'd give first names actually. First names are so generic, there will never be a problem understanding them. surnames number in the tens of thousands- including many of foreign extraction, so there will be Czech surnames that a Czech has never heard before.

It would only be more common for a Czech to ask after another with their surname- say at an office or a school, especially since in any given office, it's quite likely that a common first name will be shared among several people.

Though I do think there is a special place in hell for the people who name their kids Jan Novak and Eva Novakova. Do you know Jan Novak? Why yes I do! Everyone knows several.


And Lissande- I was thinking of "Slecna/Slecno" as a false friend, rather than "Pani," but it's as good or better a guess than mine. In my experience people get the whole pani=miss thing because they have to learn to write formal letters in school: Dear Miss x, etc. But when they want to get a little more formal, they mix in "lady" where it doesn't belong as a replacement for slecno, thinking that it must translate to lady, since pani is so commonly translated to miss. "Ma'am" is avoided because it is phonemically too close to "mom," in English and "mam" in Czech- so the teachers don't like it, and the students never learn it.

It is an ongoing shock to me actually how much of a country's literacy and proficiency in a foreign language has to do with which aspects of the language teachers and linguists actually like.

For instance, Czechs like to ask questions in the negative, so learning question tags (ie: You're tired, aren't you?) is easy for them. But they hate conditional tenses because they don't really exist in Czech, and so rather than saying: "If you would buy me a coffee, I could pay you back tomorrow," they make it a request or something else: "please buy me a coffee. I will pay you back tomorrow."

Lack of conditionals is one of the number one reasons Czechs have communication issues at later stages of English learning- it's one of the last things they will grasp, and it makes them (and a lot of slavs) seem very rude, even though they aren't trying to be.

(sorry I don't have diacritics on my laptop keyboard).

[ October 13, 2011, 05:27 PM: Message edited by: Orincoro ]

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Lissande
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Rabbit - the few times I was there, I only heard people giving first names. I'm not saying people wouldn't find it a little strange to be asked for their name, but it does / did happen at least sometimes. Whether people introduce themselves by first or last name really depends on the social situation. Business meeting, last name. Social or casual meeting (friend of friend, etc.), first name. Also depends on age and other factors, of course.

Orincoro - it really isn't at all accurate to say Czech doesn't have conditionals. It has them and uses them frequently, and if you don't do so correctly you sound rude. I think what you're observing is that not all Czechs learn ENGLISH conditionals correctly and thus often butcher them and sound, as you say, rude. In fact, I have a friend who said his American conversational English teacher told him, "Don't bother learning these conditionals. We never use them in English anyway!" Which of course is pure nonsense. The Czech conditional simply works differently than in English, and since it's one of the later grammatical concepts taught - and apparently not always taught, as above - a lot of intermediate speakers don't master it.

As for slecna / pani, you may know this, but slecna actually means Miss or young lady - an unmarried female. I still get called slecna sometimes by people assuming my girlish face means I'm not married [Big Grin] and my preschool daughter is also called slecna (for example, "you're such a grown up young lady (velka slecna)"). Generally I've noticed a lot of people use slecna across the board for anyone looking youngish (assuming young = unmarried) and pani for anyone looking adultish (say, over 30). Pani technically implies you're married but for mature women it can be used for single or married. And then the origin of the words pan and pani is lord and lady if you go back a couple of centuries. These days, of course, they're more equivalent to sir and ma'am as we use them back where I'm from. [Smile]

Anyway, I guess what I'm saying is there isn't always a straight correlation between what Czechs say when they don't speak good English and what actually exists in Czech. Or rather, there is a correlation, but it may be more complicated than it appears at first sight. My commendations on making the attempt to learn, anyway - not everyone bothers, and it gets you major brownie points when you do!

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Orincoro
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quote:
Orincoro - it really isn't at all accurate to say Czech doesn't have conditionals. It has them and uses them frequently, and if you don't do so correctly you sound rude. I think what you're observing is that not all Czechs learn ENGLISH conditionals correctly and thus often butcher them and sound, as you say, rude.
No conditional *tenses* I said- as in the English 0-4 conditional tenses. Of course there are conditionals in Czech- I do speak Czech, though I'm not a native.

quote:
Or rather, there is a correlation, but it may be more complicated than it appears at first sight. My commendations on making the attempt to learn, anyway - not everyone bothers, and it gets you major brownie points when you do!
Oh I know. I spend a lot of time thinking about how one logically arrives upon one or another English word or construction of a particular sentence, and how that correlates to Czech. Actually that helps me learn Czech as well. I'm starting a masters prep program at Charles University in three months- so I'll be studying Czech full time for a year. Looking forward to it.
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Lissande
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Although to get back to the point of the thread, I don't get worked up about giving my (or a...) name out at a coffeeshop, but I'm not very impressed by it either.

What drove me right up the wall, though, was the staff at the Starbucks we went to this summer when visiting my family. My husband came home complaining he'd had to repeat his order three times before the girl ringing him up understood what he wanted. He was depressed and wondering if his English is that bad (it is top notch). We went in a few more times, I ordered each time, and had the SAME PROBLEM. I theorized it was the lack of a strong regional accent, but then I had to explain to one employee what one of the drinks we ordered actually was...so I concluded it was them, not us. [Razz]

Seriously, never had that problem in Prague. Employees understand us both straight away and actually know their own products...it does make you ponder the concept of language barriers, though. It's not as simple as foreign = barrier, native = no barrier, it seems [Smile]

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Orincoro
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I find ordering something in Czech establishment generally easier than in an American one. It's probably me (and the fact that I make a special effort to speak very clearly in Czech), but Czechs always seem like better listeners. And because I have an accent, they don't pepper me with a lot of extraneous dialogue.

Although I do get the "there is a third eye growing out of your forehead" look from people sometimes while speaking Czech- although less often in a restaurant than somewhere else.

This can be funny or depressing. For instance, Czech tourists ask me for directions occasionally in Prague because I look local- then when I give the directions, they give me this embarrassed look and just sort of nod look around for someone else to talk to- even when I know I've given the right information.

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Lissande
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I used to get the third eye looks too [Smile] It's funny how shocking people find it to hear Czech spoken with a foreign accent, since it's so uncommon for foreigners to learn it to a high level. These days I slip under the radar except when out with my family: we speak Slovak, English and Czech, and while between the two of us we usually stick to one or the other (that is, both English, or him Slovak and me Czech), with our daughter we each speak our own language, so you have a lot of family conversations where one parent speaks one language with the child, then the other parent jumps in with a comment in the other language, and maybe a side comment in the third language. People have NO IDEA what to make of that. It does sound funny if you only understand one side of the conversation, I can imagine. And yet, to us it is completely normal-sounding!
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Bella Bee
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quote:
Originally posted by Orincoro:
Czech tourists ask me for directions occasionally in Prague because I look local- then when I give the directions, they give me this embarrassed look and just sort of nod look around for someone else to talk to- even when I know I've given the right information.

That happens to me here in Spain. If the explanation is more than a couple of sentences they hear the accent and people will come right out and say 'Oh, but you're not even Spanish!'
To which I reply more or less 'No, but where you're looking for is still exactly where I just said it was.'

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Orincoro
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quote:
Originally posted by Lissande:
I used to get the third eye looks too [Smile] It's funny how shocking people find it to hear Czech spoken with a foreign accent, since it's so uncommon for foreigners to learn it to a high level. These days I slip under the radar except when out with my family: we speak Slovak, English and Czech, and while between the two of us we usually stick to one or the other (that is, both English, or him Slovak and me Czech), with our daughter we each speak our own language, so you have a lot of family conversations where one parent speaks one language with the child, then the other parent jumps in with a comment in the other language, and maybe a side comment in the third language. People have NO IDEA what to make of that. It does sound funny if you only understand one side of the conversation, I can imagine. And yet, to us it is completely normal-sounding!

Yeah. I feel as if my skin has turned blue or something when I get out of the capital or worse, when I'm in Bratislava- because I can only *sort of* understand what's going on in Slovak, enough to get directions for a tram or order a meal or buy something- but the looks I get are priceless. Though I'll say, unlike in Prague, speaking pigeony Czech in a village or a regional capital often goes over really well. Local girls adore it, and they'll want to talk to you for an hour about nothing because they've never had a real conversation with a foreigner before.
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Orincoro
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quote:
Originally posted by Bella Bee:
quote:
Originally posted by Orincoro:
Czech tourists ask me for directions occasionally in Prague because I look local- then when I give the directions, they give me this embarrassed look and just sort of nod look around for someone else to talk to- even when I know I've given the right information.

That happens to me here in Spain. If the explanation is more than a couple of sentences they hear the accent and people will come right out and say 'Oh, but you're not even Spanish!'
To which I reply more or less 'No, but where you're looking for is still exactly where I just said it was.'

I've had that experience with Spanish tourists in Prague as well. They are casting about for landmarks, and I stop to offer some help in my pretty good Spanish (studied privately in Prague for several years), and sometimes they just don't know what to make of it.
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Kama
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I love Luxembourg. The fact that most people speak at least 3 languages and there are plenty of mixed families is just awesome and means that noone is surprised/annoyed at your poor French. I think it makes people here more able to understand foreigners than elsewhere.

My friend's young children who grew up here were very surprised once when they had a visit from some Polish friends who only spoke Polish. They couldn't understand how that's even possible [Smile]

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Orincoro
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I wonder myself, these days. I'm working on my third language- but what would make me highly exceptional in California is mundane in Europe. I also wonder what it will do to my sense of self-identity when my Czech becomes better than my Spanish- a day which is fast approaching.
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Annie
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I'm late to the party, but I am an American who gets annoyed with places asking for my name on orders. For some reason, in my town there seem to be a lot of places that will do it.

My name is hard to pronounce and spell, and so I never give it, I give the name Annie as a "close enough" sort of nickname. Or Anita, sometimes, if I'm feeling sassy. But that's not what bugs me.

The reason it bugs me is because they're assuming that we all should have names that they know how to say and spell. Why should we assume that? There are plenty of people in the United States named Maneesh and Ming Zhi and Thobeka. Why are we basing our business model on the idea that we're going to have a room full of Melissas and Scotts?

One more funny anecdote: my roommate and I went to a new little place in town that sells crêpes and Belgian style waffles and placed our orders. We were the only people there. They asked for our names. I blatantly looked around me and then turned back and said "You need our names?"

"Yes, please. What are your names?"

"I'm Anneke and she's Clémence."

"Um, how do you spell that?"

"Just like it sounds," I said, a little snotty.

We then sat down and waited, again, the only ones there. In a few minutes our order was ready and the girl tried to pronounce our names. "Ah-NEEK and .. um... Clay... I don't know how to say this one."

Good thing she asked!

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Annie
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Another thought: as a person with a difficult-to-pronounce name, I would rather have someone not use it than make a big deal over the fact that they don't know how to pronounce it.

I am aware that most Americans don't know how to pronounce my first name. Actually, to make things even more difficult, there are a few who speak Dutch and do know how to pronounce my name, except my mom thought she was Anglicizing it and gave it its own pronunciation so even the people who are saying it right are saying it wrong. I know all of this. I am not going to be offended if you don't know how to say my name. I am not going to be offended if you pronounce it incorrectly. I don't know why it's so common for people to get all worked up about it and "apologize for slaughtering it" or insist that I correct them.

Wouldn't life be a lot easier if you just called me Miss when you couldn't pronounce my name?

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Orincoro
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quote:
Originally posted by Annie:

We then sat down and waited, again, the only ones there. In a few minutes our order was ready and the girl tried to pronounce our names. "Ah-NEEK and .. um... Clay... I don't know how to say this one."

Good thing she asked!

The "lemme get your name" thing does seem to hinge on everybody being a Scott, Joe, John, or an Alex; a Betty, Sandra, or a Megan. It's grating (at least for me) to have to deal with people constantly asking for the spelling of your name, commenting on your name, and naming the other people that also have your name (which is *not* interesting conversation for me).

I bet people with more common names don't get hassled nearly as much as I do- I wonder if that affects the way they feel about this custom.

As for people not being able to *hear* my name- I'm no closer to a solution to this problem. I don't feel comfortable making up a name, and I don't have any nicknames. "Lloyd" is just not a name people are prepared to hear- and you wouldn't know this unless you *were* a Lloyd, because it is a known name. But I'd say 90% of the time, people ask me to repeat my name at least once- often more than once. It has no sharp consonant sounds at all, and the d is aspirated. I've found the problem to be that people are rarely actively listening when you say your name- instead they parrot your name back to you automatically, and only then register it. On the rare occasion when I give my name and the person doesn't *immediately* repeat it back to me, I know instinctively that I will have to give them my name again, because they will instantly forget it. It's just an instinct you develop via repetition.

I think part of it is lack of familiarity with the name in use. When you hear a name- you have various associations that are subconscious or subliminal: You see the name as it appears in writing- the face of a person with that name, or a location with that name, a painting, a work of art associated with it. But "Lloyd," has a small store of associated images- very few of them faces. There are some recent pop-culture associations, but people think of Jim Carrey, not of Lloyd Christmas- so the name association doesn't stick that way. Christopher Lloyd is commonly sited- Frank Lloyd Wright is the other reference I'll get. Very occasionally, Lloyd's Bank or The barbecue sauce brand Lloyd's.

My last name is even worse for this, so please, the next time you meet someone with an unusual name, remember, THEY KNOW!!!

You'd think that'd be common sense... but it is not.

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The Rabbit
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Both my first name and my last name fall in a middle ground where they are neither common nor unusual in the English speaking world. I like that since I don't have to deal with people always finding it strange or having a dozen people who share my name.

There is, however, a modestly popular rock singer who uses my name and its not uncommon for people to remark on that. Since she assumed the name, I think she should pay me royalties for its use.

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Dobbie
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quote:
Originally posted by Orincoro:
quote:
Originally posted by Annie:

We then sat down and waited, again, the only ones there. In a few minutes our order was ready and the girl tried to pronounce our names. "Ah-NEEK and .. um... Clay... I don't know how to say this one."

Good thing she asked!

The "lemme get your name" thing does seem to hinge on everybody being a Scott, Joe, John, or an Alex; a Betty, Sandra, or a Megan. It's grating (at least for me) to have to deal with people constantly asking for the spelling of your name, commenting on your name, and naming the other people that also have your name (which is *not* interesting conversation for me).

I bet people with more common names don't get hassled nearly as much as I do- I wonder if that affects the way they feel about this custom.

As for people not being able to *hear* my name- I'm no closer to a solution to this problem. I don't feel comfortable making up a name, and I don't have any nicknames. "Lloyd" is just not a name people are prepared to hear- and you wouldn't know this unless you *were* a Lloyd, because it is a known name. But I'd say 90% of the time, people ask me to repeat my name at least once- often more than once. It has no sharp consonant sounds at all, and the d is aspirated. I've found the problem to be that people are rarely actively listening when you say your name- instead they parrot your name back to you automatically, and only then register it. On the rare occasion when I give my name and the person doesn't *immediately* repeat it back to me, I know instinctively that I will have to give them my name again, because they will instantly forget it. It's just an instinct you develop via repetition.

I think part of it is lack of familiarity with the name in use. When you hear a name- you have various associations that are subconscious or subliminal: You see the name as it appears in writing- the face of a person with that name, or a location with that name, a painting, a work of art associated with it. But "Lloyd," has a small store of associated images- very few of them faces. There are some recent pop-culture associations, but people think of Jim Carrey, not of Lloyd Christmas- so the name association doesn't stick that way. Christopher Lloyd is commonly sited- Frank Lloyd Wright is the other reference I'll get. Very occasionally, Lloyd's Bank or The barbecue sauce brand Lloyd's.

My last name is even worse for this, so please, the next time you meet someone with an unusual name, remember, THEY KNOW!!!

You'd think that'd be common sense... but it is not.

Make it easy for them: use the Welsh pronunciation.
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Mucus
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quote:
Originally posted by The Rabbit:
There is, however, a modestly popular rock singer who uses my name and its not uncommon for people to remark on that. Since she assumed the name, I think she should pay me royalties for its use.

Ah, the Michael Bolton problem.
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Orincoro
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I can't believe I told the Bobs I like that ***muncher's music.
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advice for robots
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How do you pronounce Anneke?
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Annie
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It rhymes with panicky.

The Dutch pronunciation rhymes with Hanukkah.

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Orincoro
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I've known people with that name. If forced to spell it the well I've heard it, rhymed with Hanukkah, I would write Anicka.
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Traceria
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The further down the thread I read, the more I think this must be a regional thing, or at least differ from town to town. When I lived in Maryland, they'd ask my name. If I went to Panera Bread, they didn't.

Now I live in New Jersey and they never ask for my name at Starbucks, but they always do at Panera.

Go figure.

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Teshi
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I'm a supply teacher so I regularly have to pronounce names that are either familiar or pronounced in an unfamiliar fashion.

For example, I would pronounce Anneke as rhyming with Hanukkah and I would be wrong with this individual Anneke simply because she pronounces her name in a way that is different from my "original and standard" Anneke. Of course, some Annekes are actually spelt Annicka, or pronounced An-ekah.

The name Aliya, for example, is sometimes A!-liya and sometimes Aah-liya. I actually have begun to question my own ability to read words at all because I never know how a vowel or a combination are going to be pronounced.

Doesn't help that a significant number of Mohammeds (but not all Mohammeds) have another name for everyday use that does not appear anywhere on the register (attendance).

Even names I think I know really well I sometimes get burned on, so I have begun to question even the most basic name like Jane or William. "Are you sure you're not Jan-ay?"

As the world gets more diverse and more names enter the name bank, names will become more and more unpronounceable simply because there will be know way of knowing, from paper, how to pronounce each name-- even with a familiarity with the name itself.

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Dogbreath
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The last time I was at a Starbucks where they asked me my name (it's been over a year now since I was last in the continental U.S.), I got this response:

"How do you spell it?"

*taken aback for a second* "with an h"

A few minutes later, I saw my cup, with "Jhon" inscribed on the sleeve. Yeah, it happens even to those of us with ridiculously common names.

Likewise, I have a short, normally spelled, easy to pronounce, fairly uncommon English last name that almost no American (outside of Boston) can pronounce. And yet, in the Philippines, everyone I met knew exactly how to pronounce it. Just reading it from my name tapes, too, with no primer.

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BlackBlade
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Dogbreath: Yep. I don't correct people when they call me Tyler, unless they ask me if that's actually my name. Taylor isn't a weird name on a boy, but it's not extremely common.
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