Who Decides What Your Name Is?

Mr. Hickey,
       Just a comment, rather than a question: I was struck by your answer to the lady in which you said that, if she so introduced herself, you would address her as "Monsignor Lonnie Sue" because it's not up to you to decide what her name is.  Bravo!

     
I have always believed that names are important. We use them to represent ourselves to intimates and strangers alike and, from early childhood, they come to mean ourselves to ourselves.  As a substitute teacher I call the names aloud of a thousand children every year and, invariably, mispronounce one or more from each class on the first try. I find it distressing that I have to urge many to correct me. Those with the more difficult or, often, more foreign names have just given up on their fellows having the desire to make the effort to get it right or learn it or remember it.
       I will grant that some American-born parents, apparently in a desire to recognize the uniqueness of their children, seem to have gone out of their way to make their children's names difficult to pronounce on reading or to spell on hearing. This is unfortunate. However, as a matter of common courtesy we should try to recognize that the person in front of us is who he says he is, that her name is what she says it is.

All the best,
H. D. via the internet, April 11. 2009


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Robert Hickey is the author of Honor & Respect:
The Official Guide to Names, Titles, and Forms of Address
Published by The Protocol School of Washington®
Foreword by Pamela Eyring

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Book Photo: Marc Goodman.