The name game!

A friend of ours was lamenting that Americans are the worst at pronunciation: especially when it comes to names. His name is “atta,” and he said that people would always call him “Auto.” this simple name could still not be pronounced correctly by most (if not all) Americans. I admit that he is a stickler for pronunciation and has told my Dh on several occasions how the Pakistanis don’t pronounce the Arabic words from the Quran correctly, either. “It is horrendous!” he would remark. Yet, — (and maybe it is just because I am a bit more sensitive than usual – but then again, maybe not!) I feel/felt self conscious about pronouncing his name and his wife’s name: “Asmaa.” To add insult to injury, the software that I use to read print: such as the software that speaks the names of my callers on my cell phone, doesn’t pronounce it right either. So, sometimes, I get use to the name being pronounced incorrectly and pronounce it that way myself, even when I know the right pronunciation.
There is only so many times you can say: “Brother/sister,” and “your wife/husband,” so I’m going to have to bite the bullet. Yet, I’ll cringe because I know that he is also cringing and mentally critiquing me!

And, then, I come to the realization that: my husband’s (and consequently, my) last name is not being pronounced correctly, either and sometimes it just gets on my ever lovin’ nerves. In fact, some people call my husband by his last name instead of his first. Other times, people get the first and last name mixed up and call him something like the Capital of Jordan. Our last name is pretty popular, even here in America. In fact: “*****” is a somewhat popular first name for men (#1000 out of 1220) and an even more popular surname or last name for all people (#3288 out of 88799). (1990 U.S. Census) The most popular year (at least in the US) was 2000. And it s currently ranked # 584 in U.S. births now, I realize that you could easily find out my last name. But, who will put forth that much effort?
Anyway, wouldn’t Americans at least have someone that they are acquainted with who have this name for either their first or last name? I live in the capital city of our state. It is also the largest city and the most diverse. Yet, I always have to spell and thrice pronounce the five letter last name. I admit that Arabs say it differently than Pakistanis. But, I would be just fine if people pronounced it as the Arabs do. In fact, I find myself pronouncing it that exact way because I think that it might be easier for Americans to pronounce in the future. First, Americans want to accent the wrong syllable. Sometimes, they switch the first and the second vowel sounds. But, even when I pronounce it for them, they still can’t seem to grasp it. That doesn’t bother me as much if I know which pronunciation is coming. But, there seems to be at least six different ways that Americans can pronounce it. And, then comes the spelling. OK, I give a pass to those who don’t work with many people on a regular basis. But, if you work in a Doctor’s office/hospital, a supposedly diverse company, a lawyers office or (God forbid) at the office of Immigration, (Yes) you should be able to pronounce this five letter name. Or at least, be consistent when you pronounce it incorrectly.
Then, we come to the topic of “baby names.” I told you, no matter the post content, there is a way that I can incorporate my pregnancy into it. I looked for a “J” girls’ name. (don’t ask why I haven’t even started on a boy name selection). (smile)
I found “Jamila,” (which DH doesn’t like and says is “too old.” And I found “Jabina,” and “Javaria,” which DH also is not happy with. I found “Jayani,” which I almost fell in love with, but … … (mistake), like Shanti, Asha, Shreyah, Shantha, and Jaydra, (All names which I considered) it is Hindu. “the shame to his parents!!!” On to other letters. I found “Najiya,” and “Nayara,” (which I like, but seem to be pronounced much differently than I thought). Sometimes, it is just an accent on the wrong syllable, like “Najia” has the first syllable accented instead of the second. And “nayara” is prounced more like “Nigh – air-a” which I still like. but Dh doesn’t like them much either. DH’s sister in Pakistan suggested Inaya (pronounced Inn-eye-ah) — It is OK. I’ll think on it. I want a name that people will pronounce correctly and they would pronounce the second syllable with a long “A” found in “way.” I don’t want something too common like Seleena, Ayesha, Mina, Laila or Sara. (no offense to anyone who has such a name). I actually like all of these selections, but they just seem to be too common in both cultures. We know a little girl Miah, so thought better of naming our daughter that name, also. since our last name starts with an A., I am trying not to have the first name start with an A., although I agree that there are some wonderful A. names. I liked Alia, but was accenting the wrong syllable. I like Amina and Alina and even the name “Ashanti,” (Whoops, that is Hindi) and the Arabic name Atiya. But, I just did not want the alliteration. I like “Sabriya,” but I don’t think that this is a name that he has heard of. This is kind of tricky. Some Pakistani names are foreign to him (like the name Shumaila) and some Muslim names (especially those from different countries) are also foreign to him. He wants a name that his family can remember and say, and I want a name that Americans won’t mangle too horribly. “Shabnab,” is not even a possibility – I am just putting it out there just in case anyone gets any ideas!!!(smile)
I think that “Samiya” is a pretty name, all be it, a bit popular. And, I still like Nayara. If I have twin girls, I just might try to convince him to have a Nayara, but spell it “Nyaera,” so people might pronounce it correctly. but his favorite name is “kiran.” (Isn’t that Hindi?) But, I learned that it has crossed the threshold from Hindi to Muslim – somewhere long ago. So, apparently, it is ok. There is one problem. In America, “Kiran,” is a unisex name and is pronounced “KY [rhyming with EYE] RUN” . I certainly *DO NOT* want a Unisex name for my child. I have toyed with the “jaKiran,” or “taQiran.” Or maybe “kiryn,” or “Keerin,” (or any variant of the four). But, I am just not sure. And, Oh, did I mention that the baby will have an American middle name???? Any suggestions????
As a side note: most baby naming sites are a plain waste of time! Either their selection is quite limited – or they put every name under the sun on their site and give it an origin and meaning which is totally nonsense. There are lots of names that they claim are “American” that I have never heard of in my life. And… …. … I use to collect names. It was a weird hobby, I admit.
For a boy: Maybe Zaryan. But, I’ll want to spell it Zarion, Zarrion, Zarriyon or Zariyon.” Or maybe “Zeeshan. I am not generally an “EEK” sounding name, but Atiq wasn’t bad. I thought about Samir or Samar. But, I am just not sure. Does anyone have lists of their favorites? Actually, I had a few lists of my own favorites (with middle names attached), but I had to scrap them because Dh did not like them at all and hadn’t heard of most of the names. He is not as adventurous as I am. If I have not heard of a name, I still judge it on whether I think that it is pretty. But, DH wants a strictly Pakistani/muslim name and since this is his first child and my fifth, I relent. Although, I reserve the right to spell it how I choose, as long as it is pronounced the way that most Pakistanis would pronounce it. In fact, some names *will* have to be spelled different so that maybe people will pronounce it correctly. For example: “Tariq,” will forever be pronounced as it rhymes with “Derek,” by most people. It is just the nature of the beast!
So, send in your top 20. That might give me some fresh ideas. Thanks.


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