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Letters the Editor 9/14
Published 9/14/2011
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Teaching a foreign name can become tiresome

Editor:

Perhaps I can shed a little light on why someone would “adopt” a name or nickname.

a) Having to teach pronunciation and spelling when introducing one’s self time after time, and then having them get it wrong at the next meeting, is tiresome. On the phone, it is even worse.

b) Correspondence will arrive in the mail with a wide variety of spellings. Believe me, the novelty wears off.

c) It is annoying when in a group of people your name is called out, and you are not really sure if it is you who is wanted.

d) Coming to a foreign country for a long stay is perhaps a once-in-a-lifetime event. For some people for various reasons, from lack of interest to conflicts with their own culture, it is not a time for social or cultural interaction. Other people, though, are really interested and want to take the opportunity to immerse themselves — to “assimilate” to a degree in order to maximize the depth of their experience. Sidestepping the name problem can take the focus off of one’s foreignness in social settings. And it is just temporary, anyway.

Finally, I have a last name that has been a pain. Few seem to know how to spell it — and it is not all that weird of a name. I have taken to just running it all together for unimportant purposes. That makes it easier for everyone.

My first name is not really Hal, nor is it Harold, either.

Does this make me a victim? Assuming that you're are an American, if you were temporarily in a place where people have trouble with your name, would you try to accommodate them or insist they learn it?

Hal Vandevord
(Halfred Dirk Van de Vord)
Pullman resident

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