Actually, my name would be a girl’s name if my mother had spelled it Tracie, but she did not, it’s “Tracy with a ‘Y”, so it is indeed a boy’s name. Likewise, Sam would be a girl’s name if it were short for Samantha, but it is not, it’s “Sam,” like a boy. Then there is my sister Chris; could be a boy’s name, but my aunt named her, so Chris is short for Christine, a girl’s name. My mother did have her boy, her first-born; he has a boy’s name, spelled like a boy’s name. Lucky him!
My mother was not a revolutionary; she did not spell her girls names like boys to be creative. She spelled them that way because English was her second language. Although two of her children speak a second language, English is our first. When you speak a second language, spelling can be challenging. I understand why my name is spelled the way it is, and it has never been a psychological problem nor offensive to me. I also understand why I receive direct mail addressed to Mr. Tracy Lee; obviously from someone who does not know me.
Some parents, however, name their children with creative spellings intentionally. It is interesting to me that these very people become very aggravated when their names are either misspelled or mispronounced. If you do not want your child’s name misspelled or mispronounced, perhaps spelling it following spelling rules would have yielded your desired results. Moreover, if your name is creatively spelled, perhaps you should direct your anger or frustration at the person responsible for it, not the innocent people trying to decipher it on the spot. For instance, if my mother had spelled my name as Trasie, I would expect it to be misspelled by, well, everyone. I would also expect that people might not know how to pronounce it when reading if for the first or even second time.
As a funeral director, I often come across creatively spelled and pronounced names. This is not an issue for me, per se. However, it does add time to my work as I receive emails and phone calls from newspapers running the obituaries for verification of spelling. The person who really runs into issues is the clergyman. This poor soul must read these names from the front of the room and across the amplifier, to all in attendance. Family members of the deceased become very upset when their names are mispronounced at such an important time. I usually review the pronunciation of unusual names with clergyman before the funeral begins, and I print a special phonetically accurate obituary for them to read.
“Mrs. Trasie (TRAY-CEE) Lee is survived her husband…”
Although phonetically accurate obituaries help, they are not full proof, and quite often, people with creatively spelled names leave with their feelings hurt. I do not know what else to do. You may wonder why I do not just write the clergyman’s obituary with regular spellings rather than with their accurately creative ones. That would make sense, right? This seemingly simple solution presents an issue whereby if the family were to see it, they would be upset at me for misspelling their names. Unfortunately for the clergyman, he/she must either remember how to pronounce the name correctly, or be able to read phonetically accurate spellings; both challenging. I guess the true solution is to realize that if your name is creatively spelled or pronounced; expect creative spellings and pronunciations in return.
When I was a teenager, my friends and I would bet against each other, on how many new acquaintances in a given evening out, would call me by a name other than my own. It was a fun game and helped my newly formed acquaintances from feeling embarrassed when they were thanked by whichever of my friends they had just helped out, and asked to join the game by adding their predication for the evening. It also helped them remember my name from then on.
My name is Tracy (with a Y) Renee Lee. I am the owner and Managing Funeral Director at Queen City Funeral Home in Queen City Texas. I am an author, syndicated columnist, and co-founder of Heaven Sent, Corp. I write books and weekly bereavement articles related to understanding and coping with grief. I am the American Funeral Director of the Year Runner-Up and recipient of the BBB’s Integrity Award. I deliver powerful messages and motivate audiences toward positive recovery. It is my life's work to comfort the bereaved and help them live on.
For additional encouragement, read other articles or watch video “Grief Briefs,” please go to my website at www.MourningCoffee.com.