My Name is Different, I’ll Give Her That

My Name is Different, I’ll Give Her That

At the beginning of our relationship, Heidi would not say my name. She wrote it – in letters, on Skype and in texts – but she would NEVER say it. If not for affectionate nicknames, I don’t know that she would have ever addressed me.

I have to correct myself – NEVER is a bit of an exaggeration. But I am not sure of a word that describes “basically never”, or “much, much less than always” or “much, much closer to never”. The only time Heidi said my name for the first nine months of our relationship was when she was trying to learn how to pronounce it. My name is different, I’ll give her that. However, I never had anyone struggle as much as she did trying to learn it. It took me a long time to figure out that there was a reason for it. I will explain later.

For those who don’t know, my name is Terynn. My parents made it up by combining my dad’s first name – Terry – with my mom’s maiden name – Nunn. Instead of having two Rs and two Ns, they dropped one of the Rs and voila – it’s me! The Registry of Births phoned my mom a few times at home before processing my birth certificate to make sure she was certain this is what she wanted to name her newborn baby daughter. My mom was adamant and they reluctantly processed my birth certificate. My name is not pronounced Taryn, it is pronounced TER-RIN. TER as in term and RIN (rhymes with tin). Got it?

Terynn

As Heidi shied away from trying to pronounce my name correctly,  I assured her I answer to almost any pronunciation of my name. I am 38 and have heard many variations. Here are some of them:

Joanne
Taryn
Terryanne
Terrylynn
Trin
Terlynn
Tyrone

That’s right – Tyrone! When I was only one of a few girls playing hockey in the mid-80s in a tournament, I could tell the announcer had come across my name on the roster because after the even flow of several names from his lips there was a pause. Then I heard the “t” sound and then something I have never heard before – Tyrone! I guess he did not go with Taryn, Terryanne, or Terrylynn because he was not expecting a girl to be on the roster.

Everywhere I go where people don’t know me and are forced to read my name off of a form, like in a doctor’s office, or school attendance, or hockey game sheets, I always know when they have come to my name because of that unmistakable pause and the furrowing of their brow as their brain tries to make sense of the letters they see before them. This pause is then followed by the hard sound of the “t” and then followed by their best guess at pronunciation after which their face muscles transform from tense and confused to pleased and hopeful that they pronounced it correctly.

So now back to Heidi and her struggles with the pronunciation of my name. She would ask me to pronounce it and I remember at one point she said, “Oh, so it sounds like the name Lorenne? What???? I felt I was enunciating very clearly TER-RIN (TER as in term and RIN that rhymes with tin) so I had no idea how she was getting the end sound as RYNN as in wren. That was how she was pronouncing my name – TER-WREN. I would tell her no, and slowly pronounce the ending so that the RIN rhymed with tin and then pronounce it incorrectly (RYNN as in wren) so she could hear the difference, which was more than obvious to me. And do you know what she said each and every time? She said, “They both sound the same to me.” What??? I did not understand how she could not hear the difference and she could not understand how I could not hear that they sounded the exact same. And so we were at a stand still. And so she just did not say my name.

It wasn’t until I realized something about her Kansan dialect that I finally understood how she thinks RIN (that rhymes with tin) and wren sound the same. Apparently in Kansas, or at least in Heidi’s family, the short “i” sound and short “e” sounds are interchangeable. For instance, when Heidi says she is going to the fast food restaurant Wendy’s, she most often calls it Windy’s. When it is windy outside, she most often tells me it is wendy outside. When she tells me that even though it is wendy (translation: windy) outside she is walking to Windy’s (translation Wendy’s) it takes me a minute to process what she is saying.

It took her a couple of years but I think she now sometimes hears the difference between windy and Wendy and Terynn and Terwren and she finally says my name – sometimes she calls me Terynn and sometimes she calls me Terwren. Heidi tells me it is good that I love both ways she says my name since “I can’t tell you which you’re gonna get!”

Come back soon to read the  “Heidictionary” full of Heidi enunciation, pronunciation and sayings I would never have discovered had I never met my lovely Kansan fiancée.

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