Monday, July 13, 2020
Home Features Awkward Surname: The Name Game of Mispronunciation

Awkward Surname: The Name Game of Mispronunciation

“Hello, nice to meet you! My name is John Doe, what’s yours?” “It’s nice to meet you!” I respond. “My name is Emma Seemann.” Laughter breaks out. No seriously, that’s my name.
Ever since I started junior high and boys became perverted, people would snicker when they heard my name. When I don’t laugh with them, awkward silence usually ensues.
I grew up thinking my name was perfectly normal, like your everyday John Smith or Jane Robinson. Boy, was I wrong. Apparently, everyone is familiar with the last name Seemann. My dad’s Swiss heritage graced me with this loving name that somehow everyone manages to mispronounce. It seems that Americans cannot pronounce my last name to save their life. It’s pronounced “Say-mon,” which doesn’t seem too hard when I spell it out like that. However, let me tell you, I’ve tried, in vain, to get people to say it right for the last six years. I first started caring about the Swiss pronunciation when a seventh-grade boy named Nick Balls (ironically enough) informed me of what semen is. He joked with his friends and I went home almost in tears. From that day on, I vowed to make every single teacher pronounce my last name with a Swiss accent.
All throughout high school, I always dreaded that first day of class. I would walk in, sit in a seat and feel my hands get clammy as the teacher started calling roll. Inevitably they would get to my name and they seemed to say “Emma SEE