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.
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?