What’s in a name? Plenty. Please listen to how people pronounce their names. It can be a sensitive issue. I am Tanja, pronounced “Tann-ya.” (Nevermind the “J”, it’s silent. Think Scandinavian, like “Yumpin’ Yiminy” for “Jumpin’ Jiminy”.) It’s “Tann-ya”, like “Can ya?” not “Tahn -ya”, that rhymes with lasagna. Think Sun-Tan, or tan as in beige.
This is all a bit laborious to explain every time I hear my name read from an attendance sheet, a roll call, or resume. I wince when nine of ten times it’s, “Tahn-ya” I hear, and not my given pronounciation, “Tann-ya.”
Most of the times I just deal with it—like the momentary scratch of nails on a chalkboard. It’s easier to take it if I know that I’ll probably never have to deal with the person again, say at the DMV when my renewed, still warm driver’s license is ready, “Tahn-ya, your license is ready,” or I am alerted from a librarian that a book I am picking through library loan is in. “Tahn-ya, your book is in.”
But what really peeves me is when I just introduced myself to someone who I will likely see frequently, socially, or professionally who seems to completely disregard the proper pronounciation of my name. I start out with high hopes, extending my hand first. “Hi, I am Tann- ya,” I say with firm emphasis on the “ann” part. “Oh, hi, Tahhhhhhhn-ya, I’m so and so.” Wince, wince. I am so distracted by the mispronunciation of my name and secretly cursing the person, that I have to really work to remember his or her name.
Conversely, if a person says my name correctly on first meeting, I am instantly delighted and already like them. Many times though in subsequent meetings or if they immediately introduce me to someone else, they fall from grace because they identify me as, “Tahhn-ya.” Ugh!
Why can’t a person take an extra half brain cell in the audio department of his or her head to recall the correct sound of “Tann-ya”, instead of falling back on the stock, generic “Tahn-ya”?
What’s fun too, is that people say more times than you’d think, “Oh, you’re Tann-ya! My friend has a dog named Tahhn-ya. Great! It’s usually some shih tzu or stuck up poodle. Figures.
One of my college professors, a communications department head no less, actually admonished me once at the beginning of a semester. He called my name the wrong way in class and I shyly corrected him, “Please call me Tann-ya.”
“Tann-ya? Why Tann-ya?” he sneered the short ” a” through his nasal cavity. “Tahn-ya is so much more sophisticated!”
“You’re an ahhhs-hole,” I thought to myself, too self-conscious back then to say it. “My mother named me Tann-ya. I am not a Tahhn-ya.”
On occasion I bump into a woman who is wearing “Tanya” on a name badge, or some variation of our troublesome name. I almost always ask, “Do you pronounce it Tahn-ya or Tann-ya?” Inveribly she says she’s a “Tahn-ya.” I say, “I’m Tann-ya. Do you ever get called Tann-ya?” There’s a pause and I recognize the kindred sparkle in her eyes. “I get called “Tann-ya” all the time!”