Sunday, August 16, 2009

What's in a Name?

I’ve always really liked my name. It’s pretty rare even in the U.S., and though most people know how to pronounce it, they sometimes haven’t heard it before. I’ve only ever met one other Gretchen. And I’ve never been called anything else, even a nickname, because I really dislike any nickname that goes with Gretchen (if I let you call me Gretch, I REALLY like you).

When I lived in France seven years ago, I toyed briefly with the idea of changing my name to Marie (my middle name) in order to make it easier on my teachers and fellow classmates. Not to worry. The only people who couldn’t get out some pleasing version of Gretchen were my math teacher, who usually called me, “Gre… Jret… Egh, Je n’arrive pas! Pressley!” And the other was the six-year-old son of some of our friends, who called me Grungen. I later made him try to say Gresha, which is slightly better than being called Grungy.

The point of these ramblings is that I came to Amman with no plans to change my name like I had thought about for France. But I’m finding out that Arabic-speaking people have WAY more trouble with Gretchen than the French did. Those who speak English pretty well through courses or study abroad can usually get it after a few false starts. However…

I have had some pretty humorous variations, the funniest of which have been Crotch and Glutton. Yep. Might switch to Marie for the duration. Tried that, they called me Mori, but it's still loads better than Crotch.

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