What’s in a Name?

My name is JoAnne. All through my life, I’ve spelled it for people – J o capital A n n e, all one word – because it matters to me that people get it right. If you don’t put in that capital “A”, and you drop the “e”, then it’s Joann – which is much too close to Joan. And my name is NOT Joan. And it’s obviously all one word, because otherwise I would have 2 middle names, and that would just be silly.

I had a teacher who called roll every day. Every day she said “Joan Jenkins” in her old quavery voice. Every day I responded with “JoAnne.” For.an.entire.year.

I was in flag corps in high school, and once they decided they would announce our names at a football game, and each of us would do a quick flag twirl when our name was said. (You know what’s coming, right?) Of course, the announcer said “Joan Jenkins.” I didn’t catch it, because that’s NOT my name. By the time I realized it, and did my little twirl, he had moved on to the next name, and I did mine at the same time as her. Both mine and hers was messed up, because people can’t fucking spell or read.

So I’ve always emphasized how to spell my name. A lot.

Here’s where it gets funny. When I was 40, I decided to get my passport, because I was going to go on a cruise (whether or not any one came with me) and even though you don’t actually have to have a passport to go on a cruise, it is smart to have it just in case.

So I filled out all the forms, got my picture, found my birth certificate, and mailed it all in.

When my passport arrived, I was so excited. I opened it, and my name was spelled

“Jo Anne”

Now that’s not the worst thing that could happen – it had the capital “A”, it had the “e” at the end. But, it’s wrong. Mom was standing beside me, and I told her what had happened. They put a space in my name.

And she said, “well, isn’t that how you spell your name?”

Ummm – so my mother doesn’t know how to spell my name?

I realized I was holding the birth certificate, which was returned with the passport. So I looked.

And that’s when I realized I’ve been spelling my own name wrong, for 40 years.

Anyway, I considered having it legally changed. But in the end, I haven’t bothered. Everyone who knows me knows my name. Anyone who doesn’t know me doesn’t matter. The only time it’s an issue is when I travel. I always have to be sure to book any travel with the legal spelling, and I use the passport as my ID. (My driver’s license has it spelled the way I told them to spell it. That was long before they bothered to look at other documents.)

This story goes through my mind every time I get ready to travel. Even domestically, I can’t forget my passport. Anyway, it really looks like Michael and I are going to get to visit DC next week!

Published by JoAnne

Homebody extraordinaire

4 thoughts on “What’s in a Name?

  1. One of my pet peeves is the proper pronunciation of people and place names. I’m always correcting people even if it’s not me. For example, here in Arizona, there is a town called Prescott. Locals pronounce it like press-kit while non-locals pronounce it pre-scott. I figure if residents of Arizona pronounce it press-kit, I should as well.

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  2. Omg lol this is a great story lol I didn’t see that coming I have same issue with my name.. I have had to spell it out my entire life (same wth my husband) .. So when we had my daughter we decided we both wanted her to have a common spelling name… What do you know.. Ppl still get it wrong lol

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  3. Names do matter! Not only the spelling, but also the pronunciation and form (formal, informal or nick). It is part of how we identify ourselves, to ourselves and to others. My name has undergone many changes in my life and I always appreciate those who use my name properly and I try to do the same for others as well. I also took great care to choose good names for my kids, but even those have undergone changes for various reasons.

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  4. Really Jo? How come I am just hearing about this now?
    Pretty funny though since I was the one with the difficult name. At least in the Jenkins family there was only one way to spell it.
    Isn’t Aunt Joanne’s name spelled differently?
    Maybe mom was just pooped by the time they asked what she wanted on your birth certificate.

    I don’t get called a different name like Joan. Nope, I get called totally beautiful names like DENSA. Let that sink in. Like who the F would name their kid densa?

    Like you, I have this routine: D as in David, E as in Edward, S as in Sam, N as in Nancy, and A as in Apple.
    Perhaps that would be a more accurate version of my name to put on my tombstone.

    I have to say, as a teacher, I completely HATE all the intentional misspellings of regular names. One year I had 3 girls with the same name all spelled differently. Out of a class of 14 kids. Ashley with a y, Ashlie with an I, and Ashlee with two e’s. And that is exactly how I said each of their names as though their 2 syllable name now had 5 syllables. Once in a while I get a Robert or a Michael. I have yet to see a bastardization of these names.

    What’s next? Jane becomes Jain?

    Liked by 1 person

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