When People Can’t Pronounce My Daughters Name

When we named both of our children, we considered many things.

We considered pronunciations, uniqueness, meanings, whether they were names that could potentially be shortened or turned into nicknames.

We’ve always liked names that you don’t come across often but that aren’t completely uncommon. The meaning of a name isn’t overly important but is a definite deal breaker if it’s something like Mallory: Unfortunate; ill-fated (sorry if you are a Mallory and I hope that for your sake, you have not lived up to your name). I’m also not a fan of names that can be shortened.

When People Can't Pronounce My Daughters Name
But even after our deliberations, using our daughter’s name in our own conversations for a week to see how we felt, making sure her name satisfied our criteria, we did not expect mispronunciation, especially not so soon after her birth.

Our daughter’s name and it’s pronunciation

We named our beautiful daughter, Mila.  Pronounced Mee-la, we thought it was well known enough for people to pronounce it correctly but still a name that wasn’t overly common. We were wrong.

Mispronunciation started early

The very first instance of someone calling her by name was by our obstetrician soon after she was delivered. We had mentioned her name to my doctor but it seems that after looking at her chart and wrist tag, our obstetrician immediately read it as, ‘Miller’.

I couldn’t believe it. I remember for a quick moment wondering if we’d made a mistake giving her her name because one of the first people to have met her got the pronunciation wrong. I mean, surely people have heard of Mila Kunis, no?  Was it really unknown to some people?

Even the family got it wrong

Although I was disappointed, I let it fly until family members got it wrong and got their tongues tied when saying it. One of our cousins has a son named Miller. We didn’t even second guess naming Mila a couple of months after Miller was born, they weren’t anything alike, or so we thought.

Our uncle pointed out that the babies both had the same name but spelt differently. “OMG…no!!!!” I remember saying when my husband told me. “It is NOT the same!” I exclaimed with frustration.

And so it goes on. The baby clinic nurse, the doctor, new people we meet. Even after we say ‘Mila’ people still pronounce it ‘Miller’, almost like there’s some sort of dyslexic block.

There is so much in a name…

As soon as Mila was born, she was most definitely a Mila and she still is. Mila is Russian for “dear one” and her constant smiles definitely reflect that. Mila is also Slavic for “hardworking” and if she’s like her mummy, it’s likely she’ll live up to this meaning too.

But I won’t lie, when people get it wrong it really does tug at my heart strings. I’ve often wondered to myself, “Is this what Mila is going to deal with for the rest of her life? Should I start pulling people up on their mistake?”

Sometimes I let the mistake fly and I understand it’s almost always an honest one, but another part of me says I should make the correction. It’s hard because my name was relatively easy and I never encountered this problem.

What I do know is that when Mila is older I will make the correction so she can see that it’s ok to do so and perhaps gains the confidence to correct people herself. I want Mila to stand by her name because, in the end, it’s not just a name, it is her identity and something she should be proud of. That in itself is worth the slightest bit of awkwardness when having to politely correct people.

Do you have a child whose name is mispronounced? Is your name mispronounced? How do you deal with it?

Eva Lewis (The Multitasking Woman)

Eva is the Editor and Owner of The Multitasking Woman - a lifestyle and parenting blog.She always has her fingers in many different pies but wouldn't have it any other way. Eva is a Mum to her 4-year-old son, 2 month old daughter, two chickens, one dog and a fish called Bob and a wife to Mr G. They all live happily in their little cottage on the outskirts of Brisbane.

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4 Comments

  1. Aroha
    November 9, 2016 / 8:56 pm

    Try having “Aroha”!! It means love, and all kiwis “get it” but Aussies and everyone else is like “Say what?” and my son’s name is a Swedish spelling of an otherwise normal name, so he will spell it his whole life.

  2. November 10, 2016 / 4:04 pm

    Now you would think Samuel would be pretty easy to pronounce! Two syllables Sam-uel – common name, right? My FIL insists on calling him Sam-Ull – huh?

  3. November 11, 2016 / 9:58 pm

    This is the first time that I have come across this blog, and your description is great. I can find myself in it too. So much like me. 🙂
    Woman of all trades, master of none. Great slogan, I could just steal it (but I won’t).

    So many interests and so little time to dive into it. 🙂

  4. April 18, 2017 / 11:12 pm

    I get this a lot. My name is Kiri (pronounced Kirry) but I get called Keery, Kerry, Kiera – and all other variations. It is an unusual name but quite easy to pronounce- or so you would think! It doesn’t bother me though as I’m so used to it.
    My daughter is called Clara, which has been mispronounced as “Claire-a” a few times- including by the vicar during her christening! My Isabel gets Isabella a lot and people always spell her name wrong, even family!