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Old 04-15-2009, 10:23 PM   #61
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Today I was asked/received not-very-funny-like-I've-never-heard-THAT-before remarks about my name twice in one hour.
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Old 04-16-2009, 03:30 AM   #62
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I briefly chatted with a colleague who teaches linguistics today about the 'critical period' for phonemic acquisition that VP was talking about. It's a much shorter period than I'd have thought--basically, the window closes before the end of the first year, because infants' brains begin laying down the phonemes of whichever language(s) they've been hearing by about 6 months; and once that process (which can precede actual speech by quite awhile) is complete, future ability to discern other forms of those phonemes becomes permanently compromised. (He didn't give examples and I didn't ask, but I assume he was referring to stuff like, for example, the "r" sound exists in trilled, flapped, retroflex and guttural forms as well as various combinations thereof, and no one language includes them all, so if you only heard 2 forms as an infant, you might have great difficulty learning to discern and pronounce some--not necessarily all--of the others accurately later.) However, he pointed out, we're not talking drastic compromise here--a language learned later in childhood might well still be spoken almost perfectly, with only the subtlest hint of accent, depending on various circumstantial factors. He pointed out that another colleague, whom we both vaguely know, speaks with a quite pronounced Cantonese accent despite having been born and raised in California--probably mostly because her parents never learned English, they lived in an entirely Cantonese-speaking neighborhood, and they only socialized with other Cantonese speakers, so that she had a pretty sheltered childhood linguistically speaking. (I actually had always assumed said colleague grew up in China on the basis of her accent , so was surprised to hear this.)

He also mentioned re: the more common meaning of 'critical period' (i.e. the hypothesis that one must learn a language before puberty, or else you'll never be able to speak at all) that, in addition to the feral/'imprisoned' child cases, there've also been a few recorded cases of deaf-from-birth people who were 'cured' with hearing aids in young adulthood, and they never really acquired language either--just a modest vocabulary and some very minimal capacity to form simple 'sentences' by combining appropriate nouns and verbs, but no actual grasp of syntax, grammar etc.
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Old 04-16-2009, 08:18 AM   #63
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Today I was asked/received not-very-funny-like-I've-never-heard-THAT-before remarks about my name twice in one hour.
I hate people that make weird faces only because they are confronted with a name they've never heard before.

Since Leif is a Scandinavian name and extremely uncommon south of Hamburg I sometimes have to pull out my ID before they believe me that I'm really called that way.
Here it also often happens that people get the name, but because it's so foreign to them they think they must have misheard me and ask "Ralf?" It's a more common name and I guess the German equivalent to the "Knive-problematic" in the States.
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Old 04-16-2009, 08:33 AM   #64
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I hate people that make weird faces only because they are confronted with a name they've never heard before.
It's funny b/c there are so many Dutch people around here, in certain areas/contexts it's totally a non-issue (and if your surname was something like Van Dyke or De Young they would give you crap about Americanizing it). They don't think twice about my name (first or last). The non-Dutch people are the ones that have trouble with it.

First I was at the bank ordering more checks and the teller asked for my license. She made some comment about my name being "different" and how I "bet you hate your parents". I wanted to say "Yeah well at least I'm not one of 2357853496 other 'Kristens' in a one mile radius." Then I stopped at the mall to try on pants and at the store where I shop they like to write your name on the dressing room door. I always spell it out and after she wrote it she did a double take and asked if it was right.

I really don't mind people asking me how to pronounce it, but I do find it funny/odd when people start adding letters and syllables that are clearly not there. When I went for jury duty they kept saying "Lisa Rossman" over and over (that's not my last name either)....I don't respond to "Lisa" because I have friends with that name so I'm not used to being called that, even by mistake.

I fully intend to exact my revenge on my own future children, who will be called Thijs or Schuyler (boy), or Maaike or Marijke (girl).
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Old 04-16-2009, 09:19 AM   #65
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OMG I can never for the life of me say the word "bisschen" correctly! I can't get the "ch" right after the ss. It sounds great in my head but what comes out...it's not even worth me using that word.
Ah no problem. I guess it sounds like the accent we speak here. I think I have never ever pronounced the 'ch'.

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Since Leif is a Scandinavian name and extremely uncommon south of Hamburg I sometimes have to pull out my ID before they believe me that I'm really called that way.
Here it also often happens that people get the name, but because it's so foreign to them they think they must have misheard me and ask "Ralf?" It's a more common name and I guess the German equivalent to the "Knive-problematic" in the States.
oh really? Ralf sounds totally different imo! Or maybe it sounds very familiar to me cause I had a Leif in kindergarden.
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Old 04-16-2009, 04:10 PM   #66
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It's funny b/c there are so many Dutch people around here, in certain areas/contexts it's totally a non-issue (and if your surname was something like Van Dyke or De Young they would give you crap about Americanizing it). They don't think twice about my name (first or last). The non-Dutch people are the ones that have trouble with it.
You'd think if there were so many Dutch-Americans there that other locals would become more habituated to such names, though. One thing I notice about Indiana is that for some reason there are a LOT of Polish-Americans around, and when I first moved out here, on the first day of class I'd be going looking at some of the tongue-twisters I was going to have to read out loud to take attendance. But after a decade here, I'm used to it, and now I can rattle off surnames like 'Przybysz,' 'Kanczuzewski,' 'Wojtowicz' and so forth easily, and get them correct on the first try. (Well, OK, probably not "correct" enough to impress an actual Polish person, but good enough to satisfy a third-generation Polish-American, and that's good enough for me.)

That's the other thing that happens in a 'nation of immigrants' like ours--once you get to the first or second generation who were actually raised here speaking English, a kind of 'standard English pronunciation' of the family name evolves (even if the spelling was never actually changed), and they come to accept both pronunciations as "correct." My own last name contains a guttural sound not present in English if really pronounced 'correctly,' but I've never expected people to pronounce it, and in fact I never do either when introducing myself to others.
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Old 04-16-2009, 04:17 PM   #67
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Originally Posted by yolland View Post
I briefly chatted with a colleague who teaches linguistics today about the 'critical period' for phonemic acquisition that VP was talking about. It's a much shorter period than I'd have thought--basically, the window closes before the end of the first year, because infants' brains begin laying down the phonemes of whichever language(s) they've been hearing by about 6 months; and once that process (which can precede actual speech by quite awhile) is complete, future ability to discern other forms of those phonemes becomes permanently compromised. (He didn't give examples and I didn't ask, but I assume he was referring to stuff like, for example, the "r" sound exists in trilled, flapped, retroflex and guttural forms as well as various combinations thereof, and no one language includes them all, so if you only heard 2 forms as an infant, you might have great difficulty learning to discern and pronounce some--not necessarily all--of the others accurately later.) However, he pointed out, we're not talking drastic compromise here--a language learned later in childhood might well still be spoken almost perfectly, with only the subtlest hint of accent, depending on various circumstantial factors. He pointed out that another colleague, whom we both vaguely know, speaks with a quite pronounced Cantonese accent despite having been born and raised in California--probably mostly because her parents never learned English, they lived in an entirely Cantonese-speaking neighborhood, and they only socialized with other Cantonese speakers, so that she had a pretty sheltered childhood linguistically speaking. (I actually had always assumed said colleague grew up in China on the basis of her accent , so was surprised to hear this.)

He also mentioned re: the more common meaning of 'critical period' (i.e. the hypothesis that one must learn a language before puberty, or else you'll never be able to speak at all) that, in addition to the feral/'imprisoned' child cases, there've also been a few recorded cases of deaf-from-birth people who were 'cured' with hearing aids in young adulthood, and they never really acquired language either--just a modest vocabulary and some very minimal capacity to form simple 'sentences' by combining appropriate nouns and verbs, but no actual grasp of syntax, grammar etc.
Interesting; thanks for expanding on my point. I knew the window for hearing/processing those phonemes is small, but I couldn't recall just how small. It really is amazing that they need to be heard in the first 6 months, isn't it?

My school has a very high east Asian population, many of them international students, having names with pronunciations I'm just not familiar with. When soliciting people to participate in my study, I felt completely awkward making phone calls to people with non-Anglicized names. I made my best attempt, and apologized profusely for probably butchering their names. Most were quite generous and forgiving in the face of my ignorance.
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Old 04-16-2009, 06:28 PM   #68
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and how I "bet you hate your parents". I wanted to say "Yeah well at least I'm not one of 2357853496 other 'Kristens' in a one mile radius."
What a fucking stupid thing to say. You wonder that such a person is bright enough to work at a bank. Then again, looking at the banks right now, well, you might wonder a little less.

Good call to pass it on to your children though.


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oh really? Ralf sounds totally different imo! Or maybe it sounds very familiar to me cause I had a Leif in kindergarden.
Yeah, I also wondered when they did it. Last time the person called me Falk. Also not quite the same. The first time I didn't realize since she said it quite fast and I hardly heard it. But then I found out but since I wouldn't be with her for too long I decided to just ignore it.

I know when we went for a Kur to the Schwarzwald, my mother always said my name and immediately added "e-i-f". It was totally new to all of them.
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Old 04-17-2009, 12:29 PM   #69
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Yeah, I also wondered when they did it. Last time the person called me Falk. Also not quite the same. The first time I didn't realize since she said it quite fast and I hardly heard it. But then I found out but since I wouldn't be with her for too long I decided to just ignore it.

I know when we went for a Kur to the Schwarzwald, my mother always said my name and immediately added "e-i-f". It was totally new to all of them.
Most people call me Anne for some reason. Like today, the prof called me Anne although she was just reading her list. Or my tennis trainer still don't get it sometimes ( he's my trainer for 3 years now). I don't know what's wrong with my name, but I gave up saying it again and again.
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Old 04-17-2009, 12:48 PM   #70
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Sometimes you really don't get it. I mean it's not like Anna was uncommon.

Some people really have a short term memory for names. I had to give up hope sometimes as well.
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Old 04-17-2009, 12:50 PM   #71
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Leif, do you have the same problem as me in the US? No matter how often I explain it, people can't grasp the concept of in German and Dutch, when you see the ei or the ie, just pronounce the second one (I know that's an oversimplification, but since I get asked about my name on a daily basis, this is how I explain it). They want to call me lies like "eyes" and say my name should be spelled the other way around, maybe they call you leaf?
Shame they can't pronounce your name.
I've more than once tried to explain the ei and ie and au and eu stuff to American or other native English speaking people. It's hopeless. You can barely compare it to stuff since it doesn't exist in English.

I understand why they would call you 'Leyes', because that's what it says when you read it in English. Though for me it's automatically the Dutch name, since that's what I'm used to. I'd pronounce Leif more scandinavian I think, somewhat like life.

Languages are really an odd thing, yet very interesting. I'm still glad I've had Latin for six years, it makes MANY languages easier to understand or learn.
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Old 04-17-2009, 12:56 PM   #72
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First I was at the bank ordering more checks and the teller asked for my license. She made some comment about my name being "different" and how I "bet you hate your parents".
Wow, that's incredibly rude. Why does she say such a thing? What's wrong with having a 'different' name? At least it's less boring than a standard name!

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I fully intend to exact my revenge on my own future children, who will be called Thijs or Schuyler (boy), or Maaike or Marijke (girl).
I'd love to hear how people pronounce Thijs and Marijke there! Maaike shouldn't be too hard, probably a bit like Mike.
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Old 04-18-2009, 10:25 AM   #73
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Wow, that's incredibly rude.
Yes it is. I've had a few rude jokes made about my name-but at least no one ever said anything like that. Especially someone in a business transaction-that's completely unprofessional. Celebrity baby names are interesting and subject to ridicule-but who would ever actually say anything inappropriate to the child about it?
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Old 04-20-2009, 06:19 PM   #74
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Hahaha! Asian Americans having to change their names? That's the stupidest thing I've ever heard! There are so many dumb people on this planet!

These racist hillbillies should first learn how to read!
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