Why Do You Spell Your Name Like That?

I received a call from a new prospective client who rattled off what he wanted and how it was that I could help him. He gave me some vital information but was missing some details that I really needed so I asked him to get these details, and if he would be so kind, could he email them to me. I informed him that at the time that I took his call, I was driving on a motorway in not only heavy traffic, but heavy rain, and it wasn’t safe for me to pull over and take his details. As he was in his nice warm, safe and dry office, I told him that I would give him my email address.

“My email address is d-a-double r-e-double l at…”

That flows off my tongue so easily seeing that I’ll make that statement maybe a dozen times or more per week. But at I got up the the at symbol, the guy interrupted me…

“Well ain’t that a fancy way to spell it?”

“It’s actually the original way to spell Darrell, but I won’t go into the history of my name for you.”

When I returned to the office later that day I did a quick search of my work email’s history to “reminisce” the alternative spellings I have had.

There were seven alternative ways that I could remember my name having been incorrectly (well, to address me that is) and so I decided to see how many times each had been used.

There were those people who unflinchingly must use the letter Y when writing my name with 5 x Daryl, 35 x Darryl, 1 x Daryll and even 1 x Darryll being used in the last four years. I was impressed with the last one that this guy got both my double R and double L happening, but refused to accept my E instead of the Y. The funniest thing was, this email thread started with him emailing me, and he had to have used the E in my name for the email to reach me, yet he swapped it out for a Y when addressing me within the body of the email.

There are those who do use the E, but are confused by the two lots of double letters in my name so there were 69 x Darrel and 36 x Darell, and even 1 x Darel where obviously, this guy wasn’t going to let me have double anything. Dude, it’s double or nothing. Actually, double double, or nothing.

And then there are those who see the letter E and are mighty confused by the double L that follows, so they write Darren. This is happened on more than 70 occasions, with about a dozen of those email threads being from my number one client, and as a result, I have never corrected him. He can call me Darlene for all I care; just as long as he just keeps showing me the money.

Having a name that can be spelled several ways, and even more ways if you include some really strange alternatives I’ve seen over the years, I have always thought how it is that parents choose the spelling of their children’s names.

"I don't want a dodgy spelling of my name..." cries this newborn. Photo courtesy of Pixabay
“I don’t want a dodgy spelling of my name…” cries this newborn. Photo courtesy of Pixabay

I have a friend who has two daughters; Apryll and Jami. Of course, if one was to tell you their name was Apryll, the fact that it’s pronounced like the name of the fourth month, and the fact that everyone would know the spelling of that month, you could be perfectly excused for assuming her name was spelled exactly like the month, that being April.

The first Shaun that I knew back from my early school days was the back-door neighbour of the house four up from my family home. This Shaun was in my year at school, and remains a friend to this day, and as he set the benchmark, all the guys named Shaun that would follow had their name written that way by me if I was writing them a Christmas card, or just jotting down their name. And then, in high school, the first Sean came along. Well, truth be told, he came into my life before that, but up until I saw his name written down in high school, I assumed that he too was a Shaun like the first boy I knew with that name.

In all honesty, that spelling of Sean to me was a ridiculous way to spell it. I mean, come on folks, there’s no Sh in Sean, so where is that Sh sound coming from? Sean should be pronounced different, like seen rhyming with bean. As I grew older, and as I became more worldly, I started meeting other guys named Sean. And then another Sean. And another. But where were the other guys will the Shaun spelling? They just weren’t there. My world was shattered.

Over the years, in addition to Sean and Shaun I have seen Shawn and Shaughn. My theory is that, without knowing how someone spells their name where common variants exist, but knowing at least one correct way to spell and given name, the way you know, or the way that has been burnt into your brain is the way you’re going to spell it.

But back to April. Forgetting about the French alternatives of which there are just as many including Avril, there are other acceptable ways in which to spell April while maintaining the same pronunciation; Aipril, Aprilete, Aprill, Aprille, Apryl, and Apryll. So, even though I always assumed that my friend had just come up with her own way to spell it to be different, having settled on the name April and then possibly looking it up in a naming book and seeing the alternative spelling, she may have thought “why be boring and spell it like the month?”

I have to admit, I thought about writing this post almost two years ago when I saw an article about how some parents seem to mistaken the naming of their baby with a game of Scrabble putting the letter Y in places where the letter I (for igloo that is) normally is. The name Krystyne was given as a real example, and this woman who was interviewed mentioned that her parents needed to find something a little different, but liked the name Christine, hence the “normal” sounding name, but with the weird-arse spelling.

But who is the Name Keeper? Who is the one who gets to say that THIS is the correct way to spell any given name, and A, B or C are acceptable alternatives, but X, Y and Z are not? And you know that those last three letter of the alphabet are creeping in to common spellings with Jaxon replacing Jackson, Kyly replacing Kylie, and Z, well, I’m fairly sure someone has changed out an S for a Z in their kid’s name within the last decade.

gate keeper of names

Depending on what you read, the way that my parents chose to spell my name is the original spelling which the English stole from the French. Other sources state that my way, less one L is the original way. But I will admit, even though I joked above that some crazy parents will change out “normal” letters and swap it with a Y, for the most part, whether it’s with one L or two, spelling my name with an E is the less common than the various ways to spell it with a Y.

And strangely enough, my name is one that has way too many variations of how to spell it, all while keeping the same pronunciation. That does however take into account the liberty that many Americans use when saying my name; that is, giving the A and E sound. And yet, the name CAN be spelled with an E replacing the A, so I guess that is to be expected.

In doing some research I found that Darrell has 20 variant forms; Darel, Dariel, Dariell, Darral, Darrel, Darrill, Darrol, Darroll, Darry, Darryl, Darryll, Daryl, Derell, Derrall, Derrel, Derrell, Derril, Derrill, Deryl and Deryll. Even though I can only remember eight of these being used, including my own spelling, I’m sure that before my life is over, I will no doubt come across another weird spelling.

And I haven’t even mentioned the Valentine’s card I got from one of my high school girlfriends who wrote “Dear Darly,” swapping around the L and the Y, which would have been cute if it was a pet name or she was using an affectionate form of address to a beloved person, but sadly, she totally misspelled my name. And to think, she went on to be a school teacher…

Do you or your kids have a name that often gets spelled incorrectly because there’s a more popular way to spell that name? Do you have the “normal” or most common way, but often get alternative spellings of your name?

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