A MinD in MoTown

Mork & Mindy.
January 11, 2010, 5:34 pm
Filed under: Argh, Getting my RANT on, The Woes of Work

It never fails:

“What’s your name?”
“Nice to meet you, Melissa.”
“No, it’s Melinda.”

My first name isn’t challenging. It’s not even terribly uncommon. And yet on a regular basis, people erroneously call me Melissa (or Missy, Belinda, Matilda, Miranda, Minnie, etc.). I’m not even going to bother explaining the difficulties people find with my rather-simple last name. Suffice it to say it’s very similar to a certain Russian satellite, which leads to numerous spelling errors and a ridiculous amount of unnecessary references to the 1950s space object.

Whenever this mistake emerges, I can’t help but question if I’m to blame for their blunder. Did my enunciation fail? Was I speaking too softly? Is it possible I said the wrong name?**

But when an individual I speak to regularly – for work, especially – commits this gaffe, my annoyance goes through the roof and a blog post erupts.

As a journalist, you are strictly taught to ensure you have the correct spelling of someone’s name at all times. To go to print with an error in that person’s name is a rather huge error. Why exactly don’t people apply this rule to life in general? It’s one thing to mispronounce a name on the first meeting, maybe even the second. But when it’s the third encounter***, you should at least verify the name before slaughtering it and possibly causing some offense.

So who else has a name that’s often mistaken for another? What’s the craziest thing you’ve accidentally been called? And do any of you regularly face this problem, as I clearly do? Depending on the situation, I might correct an individual. How exactly do you react when this happens? And in all seriousness, is there something I should be doing differently to guarantee this doesn’t repeatedly occur? Or am I merely doomed for a long life of mistaken identity?

* Feel free to substitute this conversation with Mindy v. Missy or a multitude of other mistakes people consistently make.
** I did this once. Sad, but true.
*** Or the 15th and I just said my name when you answered the phone, yet you call me “Melissa” anyway when sending a followup email less than ten minutes later…

26 Comments so far
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First off, it’s kind of ridiculous how excited the title of this post made me. If only because I grew up watching Mork & Mindy.


While people usually can pronounce my last name with the occasional person calling it “Harrington” by mistake, it’s not that bad.

What is bad is how often people misspell my first and middle name (Kendall). I’ve seen Kendel, Kandall, Kendell, Kindal, Candal, and probably others I’m forgetting it.

My first name is even worse.


Comment by Kendall

What’s your first name!? I have no idea… And now I must know!

Comment by amindinmotown

I get this ALL THE TIME. When I pronounce my name, people will throw in another letter, another syllable, or shorten it. and this is all AFTER I have pronounced my name.

sometimes, in order to not deal with it because I’m just not in the mood, I’ll just give a completely different name, like ashley or tiffany. (like when I’m at a starbucks or a deli and they have to yell out your name for your order)

Comment by thatShortChick

Haha, a fake name ’cause it’s easier? That’s hilarious. I never heard of someone doing that before.

Comment by amindinmotown

OK, this is the one and only time I’ll reveal my real first name on bloggy related comments…
It’s Keri. Of course it’s always mispelled, but what I hate is when I meet someone for the first time and they insist on calling me KIM.
Sometimes I get fed up because I swear they’re just calling me that because it sounds Asian.

Comment by Kez

Ugh. And Keri is definitely one that can be spelled so many different ways. But Kim? They barely even sound similar! I can imagine the frustration.

And don’t worry, your secret is safe, ha.

Comment by amindinmotown

I often get called other common female names that start with A–like, Amanda, Andrea, Angela, etc. My last name is hard to pronounce and people mess that up all the time. I don’t always correct people, but sometimes I do, especially if they say it in a questioning way, like they’re waiting for me to say something. Surprisingly, people sometimes misspell my first name too. I get a lot of Ashely.

Comment by Ashley

Ashely? Really? No offense to those people, but that’s just stupid… If your name was spelled awkwardly – say, Ashleigh – I’d get the misspelling thing, but your name is so common among our age group. Weird.

Comment by amindinmotown

HAHA… well you know how ugly my last name is- just imagine people trying to spell/pronounce it. It gets ugly…

Comment by Matt

I bet so. And I’m not going to lie, I have no clue what the correct pronunciation is.

Comment by amindinmotown

Pham is pronounced as Fam. It’s Americanized. Don’t correct me how to say my last name as the “proper” way of Faum. I will look at you with disgust and leave.

“But what about your heritage?” They ask.
I will and have always answered, “What about it? Look at those around you who claim to know their heritage. They are posers, fake and ignorant of their heritage and of the American culture. They are the reason why stereotypes exist.”

Comment by phampants

My last name is Americanized to an extent. The U is supposed to be pronounced more like the Os in foot, but we typically just go with the sound like the U in butt. Is it people who have the same heritage who correct you, or people who don’t?

Comment by amindinmotown

People always make mistakes when saying my name. Andhari. The H is basically silent.

However, Melinda should be said with no mistales. It’s a pretty name, btw.:)

Comment by andhari

Aw, thank you! =) And I could certainly see the silent-H causing some mistakes. I do love your name though. Very beautiful and different. I figured you’d respond to this post, ha.

Comment by amindinmotown

thankfully i don’t have this problem. “Kim” is pretty simple. But it also sounds like Jim and Tim, which causes some unnecessary head turning at times.

Comment by Kimwithak

Ahhh. That makes me wonder… Is it better to have a “different” name and have it mispronounced often, or a common name that’s always on the money? Hm…

Comment by amindinmotown

i think certain people get a kick out of calling people by the wrong name…idk

Comment by Felicia

You’re probably right. Some people just love calling me Minnie… And I was going to make a joke after your comment and call you by the wrong name, but really, nothing sounds like Felicia! Ha.

Comment by amindinmotown

I have problems with my last name ALL the time. Like, ALL the time. So I feel your pain.

Comment by stealthnerd

Oh, and I love your last name! But I can see where those crop up, for sure.

Comment by amindinmotown

My first name is spelled differently and my last name is just a crazy German name that’s hard to pronounce. I’ve been called Tiffany quite a few times. And I’ve had people spell my name Stephine a lot (which is just bad spelling at it’s finest!).

And my last name…well, I don’t mind if people get it wrong because it’s just a hard name to pronounce. But I do get annoyed when they add random letters that aren’t there…like N’s and L’s and G’s.

Comment by Stephany

My last name is German, too, so I hear you on that a bit. Though mine is surprisingly more simple than your average German name.

You do have a different spelling for your first name – a common name, though uncommon spelling, I’d say – so I can imagine it’s misspelled often. But they hear Tiffany? That’s so bizarre.

Comment by amindinmotown

Oh God. My name is Akirah. I’m sure you can envision my name issues.

I work with autistic kids and the one I work with is barely verbal. He says one word sentences and can comprehend prompts, but that’s about it. Anyway, he calls me “Akirnah.” So that’s pronounced “Uh-keer-nuh.” It’s absolutely adorable and I love everything about it.

Comment by Akirah

Akirah’s definitely a unique name (and I love it, by the way). When kids in general mispronounce a name, it is quite cute, like you said. My 5-year-old sister would say Melinda in syllables, so Muh-Lin-Da, and I adored that.

Comment by amindinmotown

my name isn’t really maddie. maddie is a nickname from my last name, madden. however, my first name i extremely common and no one EVER spells it right. EVER. it’s rather infuriating. i feel your pain.

Comment by splendidmishap

Oh man, I liked the name Maddie. I’ve been tricked!

Comment by amindinmotown

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