The un-sayable name


Percy, who at 40 weeks and 6 days, has dwelled amongst us for as long as he was in utero

If I had a dollar for every time someone said ‘how DID you come up with your kids’ names,’ I’d have a lot more dollars than I do right now.

I usually mutter something about Croatian tennis players and South African childhood acquaintances. And about looking for names that are easy to spell and easy to pronounce.

And exotic enough to compensate for being paired with the second most common surname in the U.S.

Despite doing my utmost to avoid saddling my children with the Knee-Cole-Ah conundrum that has plagued me ever since we flew over Ellis Island many many years ago, I’ve hit some stumbling blocks.

The Gort’s name, which I naively assumed was ‘easy’ has turned into one name – three ways.  Gore-UN, Gore-ANNE, and GAHWR-un, depending on where in the world you are. The English pronounce it differently than the Americans and the Canadians have their own take on it too.

The Hen’s name, when first heard, is typically met by blank stares, three seconds of silence and a perturbed ‘what?’ Followed by ‘how do you spell that?’ To my knowledge, no one who has seen it has had any problems pronouncing it. But I’ll know for sure when he starts preschool.

But worst of all, really, is our ‘Percy’. Because we, his parents, don’t actually know how to pronounce his name. (Also, we tend to call him the wrong name most days, but that’s more telling of our mental state than anything else.)

We’d spent nearly 39 weeks of pregnancy arguing and anguishing over a name. And we still chose one that was problematic.

The first sign of a problem came in the hospital about five minutes after he was born. ‘And, does he have a name?’ the doctor who delivered our little superman inquired. Jason and I just cackled nervously. Which she took to mean we didn’t have a name. But we did have a name, we just didn’t know how to say the name. Which is kind of funny – what kind of parents pick a name for their child that they aren’t 100% confident about pronouncing?

Jason called my mom and then my sister to deliver the news. And the name. The first thing my sister asked was how to pronounce it: Peerz? Or Pierce? Friends asked, too. Our name bible was completely useless on the matter.

Apparently it can be pronounced either way.

So we started out with the latter pronunciation. Except most people who hadn’t seen it thought we’d named our kid after Remington Steele. ‘Ah, Mr. Brosnan!’ they’d say when we shared his name. Which didn’t bother me, necessarily.

But it has amused me to no end that, ever since the Gort started playing soccer WITH a kid named Pierce, we’ve suddenly (without even discussing it) started pronouncing the baby’s name differently.

This month, we’re going with a hard s. Or a soft z.

But mostly we just call him ‘the baby’.

8 thoughts on “The un-sayable name

  1. Well, now I don’t feel so embarrassed about questioning his name…I had visions about being your slow friend who was scared to mispronouce Percy’s name, so I would always call him ‘little dude’ or ‘buddy’ or ‘baby number three.’ Although I must say, I still feel a slight affection for the french-ness his name could hold…PEE-airs 🙂

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