Can I pick my own nickname?
November 14, 2008 1:54 PM   Subscribe

Unusual name filter: My first name is Irish and hard to spell and understand for most people. I have never had a nickname except for a juvenile one and various people making up a pronunciation of my name. But now I'm grown up and I constantly have to spell my name to people on the phone.

I work with vendors all day long and spend a lot of time talking to people who have to get my info (customer service types). Also, the email convention at my job is firstname.lastname@jobplace.com

I found this post about a girl with an easy to spell name that is often mispronounced but it doesn't quite help me.

I have the following conversation (or longer variant thereof) about 10 times a day)

me: ok, s like sam, i, o, b like bravo, h, a, n like nancy.
them: s...i...o....v h n? (
no... b h A n.
oh... how do you say it?
shavon.
and that's a "b"?
yes.
shavon?
yes.
oh.....ok. that's neat. what nationality is that?


Going by my middle name is not an option, it's worse than my first name.

Can I just start going by Sam (as suggested by a co-worker who feels my pain) and change my work email?

This might seem obvious to some people, but I'm kinda at a loss about what is ok to do. I try to be as nice about it as possible, but I just dread that part of a phone call now. Am I able to pick my own nickname?
posted by sio42 to Human Relations (55 answers total) 2 users marked this as a favorite
 
Sure, I don't see why not. Just make sure to pick one you like and have a handy one-line explanation ready for those who know you by your given name who might ask what's up.
posted by rmless at 1:59 PM on November 14, 2008


You can, but too bad, because I love your name. But yeah, as another Celtic girl, I feel your pain; those Irish words do NOT sound like they're spelled. At all.
posted by OolooKitty at 2:02 PM on November 14, 2008 [1 favorite]


Sure you can. Think of it as an anglicized version of your name. I knew tons of Chinese students in my classes that did that - they chose names like Joe, Mike, etc.
posted by PercussivePaul at 2:02 PM on November 14, 2008


Would it be a problem to just anglicise the spelling? I think the lead singer of Clannad did just that. (Beautiful name, and I always wondered how it was pronounced-thanks for the info!)
posted by St. Alia of the Bunnies at 2:04 PM on November 14, 2008


I see no problem with going by Sam.

But I have an extraordinarily common first and last name (seriously, extremely common), and I still have to spell both of them for people on the phone when I give them my email address, almost every time. (Even in spite of my worldwide fame.)
posted by The World Famous at 2:05 PM on November 14, 2008


Sierra - India - Oscar - Bravo - Hotel - Alpha - November.

"Sierra" isn't bad. But yeah: your name, so you get to decide. You don't necessarily need to change your email, but if it's an option it seems worth exploring. If signature blocks are conventional at your employer, signing your emails "Sam" (or whatever) and a sig block of Siobhan "Sam" LName might be enough.
posted by Emperor SnooKloze at 2:07 PM on November 14, 2008


Correct me if I'm wrong but i remember that Siobhan is an Irish version of Jehanne. Maybe you can search in this direction like Jean, Jeanne ...

Anyway Siobhan is one of the finest name I've ever heard !
posted by Jaloux Saboteur at 2:08 PM on November 14, 2008


Having lived on a "Fermanagh" street I feel your pain. Yes, pick whatever you like. It's for professional use, so it's fine to pick it yourself. It's not a nickname for use with drinking buddies, which, of course, they pick for you. Sam is fine, Sue would be OK too. But you could just as well go by Alexa or Jane.
posted by GuyZero at 2:09 PM on November 14, 2008


thanks for the quick replies!

i really do like my name - and i like the spelling. at my gym, there are two trainers named Chivon and Shavonne. i'd hate to anglicize it and rather just have a nickname than what i know to be a "wrong" spelling. ugh.

i know someone who named her kid Maille (molly in gaelic). beautiful spelling but she's gonna spelling that forever :)

@percussivepaul - i hadn't thought of it like that. i went to school with a bunch of julias, joes, etc who had hard to say asian names.

i will do my best to post back in a couple weeks on the results of my experiment!
posted by sio42 at 2:10 PM on November 14, 2008


Sure, you can pick your own name. Just introduce yourself as such, and if you send emails from your work address, sign off with the new name. I always use the sign-off from emails as a baseline of what people prefer to be called (since they're essentially naming themselves). Eventually your co-workers will pick it up.

Bonus (speed) points for humorously referring to yourself in the third-person using your new nickname, like in a story about your weekend or summat. It'll operate like a verbal email sign-off. That'll get people used to it and also open a natural opportunity for them to ask about it.

See also: Joey Keighley, lead singer of DOA who changed his name legally to Joey Keithley (phonetic) in an effort to avoid the long explanation.

(Funny that this question should come up, I was listening to the song "Siobhan" by the Tossers when this came up and kept thinking 'neat name!')
posted by burnfirewalls at 2:12 PM on November 14, 2008


I have an Irish friend who feels your pain. (Her first name, "Cliona," completely confused one of her college professers in Cork -- he kept completely bungling it until he begged for permission to just rearrange the letters and call her "Nicola" instead.) Also, changing things may not stop the "how do you spell that". I have a fairly straightforward Anglo-saxon last name, but I still have to spell it a lot.

But -- you know, it's your name, and it has everything to do with how you would best feel presenting yourself to the world. If you just have had too much hassle with "Siobhan", then just going with "Sam"? Your name, your call, go for it. My grandfather also had an unusual name -- "Revilo Oliver W[last name]" -- and he flat-out hated it, so he just took his initials and told people to call him "Row." He kept "Revilo Oliver" for legal documents, but everyone else called him "Row" (to rhyme with "cow"), and if you wrote it, you wrote "Row [last name]", or sometimes people wrote "Ralph".

Whatever you would feel most comfortable with, I say go for it.
posted by EmpressCallipygos at 2:13 PM on November 14, 2008


I have a friend with a virtually identical situation. His name is Caoimhin (also Irish), and to avoid confusion he just goes by Kevin. It's alot easier for him to use that for day-to-day business.
posted by smitt at 2:16 PM on November 14, 2008


Heh, that's my post you referenced.

Yeah, my problem is different from yours, but I do have to tell you about something that happened to me earlier this week. At an industry conference, I went up and introduced myself to one of the speakers and started talking with him. He glanced at my nametag and said, "Oh, I know who you are. I see your name pop up all the time." This is not because I'm particularly famous -- I'm actually very junior in my field -- but because my name is a very unique spelling. That wouldn't have happened to me with a conventional spelling or a more conventional name. So despite the serious annoyance from time to time, I'm very glad to be recognizable.
posted by olinerd at 2:24 PM on November 14, 2008 [3 favorites]


I feel your pain and lack of nicknames...obviously. I often choose to give people either a spelling or a pronunciation, not both, to avoid the disconnect between Siobhan and "Shavonne" -- I don't know whether that's an option for you though.

You can totally choose a nickname and use it in your work correspondence. There's someone in my office who has done this with a nickname and real name that are totally unrelated (e.g., Joanne "Beth" Rogers). I don't think it has been much of an issue. However, I will second those say that having a more mainstream name may not alleviate all of the spelling issues: My gf has the #1 name from the year she was born, so I use that when we order takeout or whatever, and somehow it is nearly always misspelled or misunderstood.
posted by Siobhan at 2:25 PM on November 14, 2008


See if you can get two email addresses at work: sam.lastname and siobhan.lastname. That way, you can be Sam when it's convenient to be Sam, and Siobhan when it's convenient to be Siobhan. Your IT department should be able to set it up so both aliases land in the same inbox.
posted by ocherdraco at 2:33 PM on November 14, 2008 [1 favorite]


Since you're on the phone a lot, I'd recommend making sure your preferred nickname is easy to recognize over the phone - you'd be surprised at what people mishear. Even if you go by Sam, some people might still hear "Pam" or "Jan" or something similar.
posted by Metroid Baby at 2:45 PM on November 14, 2008


But I have an extraordinarily common first and last name (seriously, extremely common), and I still have to spell both of them for people on the phone when I give them my email address, almost every time. (Even in spite of my worldwide fame.)

Seconding this, at least for my last name, which is one of the cardinal directions. People still have trouble spelling it, and I always have to either supply a trick ("like the direction") or spell out out on the phone. Sometimes both.

But ask to be called whatever you want. You're a grown up, and you're allowed to go by whatever name you want.

(I've known two Siobhans. One went by "Vonnie" and one by "Bonnie," FWIW.)
posted by PhoBWanKenobi at 2:46 PM on November 14, 2008


hi siobhan, i totally get your pain. my username is my real, given first name. growing up no one could pronounce it (and to be fair, irish people have proven some of the worst in trying to sound it out!). i don't think siobhan is an odd name, but i suppose it depends where you are from, and how long you've been on the planet. my experience with nicknames as a solution is mixed, but if you like "sam", then by all means use it. i don't know how long you've been doing this phone song and dance, but remember it's them and not you. some people are ignorant - some people are deaf. whatever. siobhan is a lovely name; but do what you gotta do.
posted by tamarack at 2:53 PM on November 14, 2008


Yeah, pick a nickname. I have a relative named Cefn who just spells it "Kevin" on business cards and in e-mails. Having a difficult-to-spell name makes it doubly hard for business: you have a hard time spelling it over the phone, and I bet other people are unsure of how to address or speak of you if they don't know how to pronounce your full name.

Does your middle lend itself to any nicknames?
posted by Solon and Thanks at 2:58 PM on November 14, 2008


Olinerd has a point - an unusual name can work for you as well as against you. You can make your name famous! Alternatively, move to Ireland where it is totally run-of-the-mill.

I quite like having the idea of a work name. FYI Jane, Joan, Susan Judith, Judy and Johanna are acceptable english-language versions of your name.

I'm in the opposite boat to you - I'm Irish and I live in Ireland but I have an English-language name. When studying Irish at school, and in the Gaeltacht, I would be addressed by the Irish version of my name. I found it kind of cool to have two identities; a bit like having a username, actually.
posted by tiny crocodile at 3:00 PM on November 14, 2008 [1 favorite]


i have an incredibly simple to pronounce chinese name but my father, when we emigrated to america when i was one, somehow decided to spell it in a far more complex way than it should have been—and it throws ppl off to no end, both to spell and to pronounce, regardless of how many times i repeat it. so i started going by a name of my own choosing after i left college (which in itself is unusual and made up but somehow still easier for people to deal with). it's never been a problem ever. i use my real name in any official or legal capacity but my chosen name everywhere else.

that said, siobhan is a lovely name and if it was mine, i'd have stuck with it.
posted by violetk at 3:11 PM on November 14, 2008


I have an unpronounceable last name and an unweildy (hyphenated) first name. I've gotten into a rhythm for spelling out my last name (N as in Nancy,_ as in _, letter, letter, ___ as in ___). I only pronounce it if I must, but generally people don't bother to ask unless it's a situation where we'll be interacting often. I picked this up from my brother who is now a Doctor and had to spell his name out several times a day as he is primarily referred to by last name now.

As for my first name, I just introduce myself by the latter half that I go by, and I sign my emails with it.

I agree with the others to just go ahead and create another name for work use, and to get another email. In college, I eventually just requested halfname.lastname instead of halfname-halfname.lastname because that little change made it so much easier to give people my contact details.
posted by quirks at 3:14 PM on November 14, 2008


I have a similar obscure-but-perfectly-Anglo name. Its natural short-form and my middle name are almost as equally unusual, just easier to spell. For a long time I was frustrated like you, and then all of a sudden it stopped and I started to enjoy the "hmmmm, interesting" that followed after I'd spelled it out.

Then I took a job where I was dealing with multiple clients on the phone every day. Even though we were supposedly heavily regulated and required to use our legal names, they had no problem routinely allowing oddly-named folks to choose a logical nickname.

By all means, start going by Sam for work purposes.
posted by K.P. at 3:22 PM on November 14, 2008


Of course you can pick your own nickname! I say go for it, and see how it works for a few weeks. But I agree that even the simplest of names can be mis-pronounced or mis-spelled by people. Another suggestion would be to put a pronunciation guide to your name in a signature at the bottom of emails.

Also, bear in mind that if you choose Sam, you are going to the same problem as Olinerd and myself, where you are assumed to be a man in email correspondence, if you work in a majority-male environment.

Jo (aka Joe, Joy, Joan and Yo!)
posted by Joh at 3:25 PM on November 14, 2008


Hah! I knew your name before you said what it was. My sister has a friend named Siobhan.

My advice is not to worry about it. You can always preface how to spell it by saying something like "My name is Irish so it isn't spelled in English like it sounds". That way they won't get all weird when you start spelling it.

And as others have said, people with regular ol' names like mine have to spell them all the time and the names still end up being spelled wrong. It's a normal and everyday occurrence.

But Siobhan is a pretty name so I hope you keep on using it. Very pretty!
posted by Justinian at 3:27 PM on November 14, 2008 [1 favorite]


Yeah, sorry to tell you this but this will happen no matter what your name is. My first name was the 11th most popular birth name in my year and my last name is one of the two most common surnames in the country.

Nonetheless, I end up spelling my first name *and* my last name on almost every phone call in which names need to be given. My last name is essentially Jones or Smith- that common, and I still end up spelling

J-O-N-E-S, sometime times repeating it when they say 'Sorry?'

And don't get me started on my first name. I'm in my 20's, my name is VERY common and people misspell it or just don't get it all the time. Last week someone keep insisting my name was spelled with a 't' as the middle letter even when I corrected him. So you might still have to go through the same agony even if you go by an 'easier' name, sorry.
posted by arnicae at 3:28 PM on November 14, 2008


Howaya Shivers ;) Irish here with the same problem living abroad. I have a work name.
I go by a name based on the first letter of my actual name, as in "My name's Siobhan, but please, call me Ess". Unfortunately this works kinda badly with just "s". The equivelants of Siobhan in other languages are J names, like Johanna, so I would say to go by Jay or Jo.

For mails there's possibly an "internal" adress that might be easier to use, I usually give out the DEPTxx@ version of my name where xx is my intials. Makes things easier.

Siobhan is a cool name, some of my favourite people are Siobhans, but I feel your pain, and I know the misery of having a boatload of people thinking that they are the chosen one who actually is able to pronounce it right (but they aren't).
posted by Iteki at 3:32 PM on November 14, 2008


Agreeing, of course you can call yourself whatever you want, of course you can pick your nickname, etc, etc, ad infiinitum.

I wish you wouldn't 'cause I love your name, the spelling and sound of it. I also see it more often now than years ago. If people can deal with Sinéad, they can certainly deal with Siobhan!

As for me, my "real" last name is very long and very Slavic and has way too many consonants for most Americans to handle. They see my name and get very afraid. I just laugh it off and tell them I get on a first name basis with people very quickly. When they stumble on the spelling, I tell them it too me years to learn it. A little humor eases their discomfort -- which is much worse than mine -- and after that we're fine. After all these years, I actually enjoy it: It's an icebreaker, and it gives us something to talk about.

Nonetheless, I've avoided shopping at Vons/Safeway/Randalls/etc for years because that company trains their checkout people to address you by name. It's just too hard, and I feel sorry for them.
posted by Robert Angelo at 3:36 PM on November 14, 2008


Also, if/when you decide to make the move, I strongly suggest not using the phrase above, "my name is x, but you can call me y". Don't offer them an alternative, just introduce yourself with your new name. If you offer an alternative they will want to try and use it out of some misplaced sense of manners.
posted by Iteki at 3:38 PM on November 14, 2008


My mother, from Ireland and named Siobhan, always used "Joan" when working in the states.
posted by jamesonandwater at 3:40 PM on November 14, 2008


FWIW, the Siobhan I know is usually called "Jo."

I don't know why.
posted by rokusan at 3:54 PM on November 14, 2008


Are you Catholic? If so, another option might be your confirmation name.

My last name is Epstein--pronounced with a long I, not a long E. One does not say "EEN-STEEN" when talking about Albert. Lately I've been encountering people who refuse to pronounce it correctly two seconds after I introduce myself. I am NOT the guy from Welcome Back Kotter!
posted by brujita at 4:02 PM on November 14, 2008


I went to elementary school with a Siobhan. Pretty looking and sounding but as someone with an 11-letter German last name, I feel your your pain. Call yourself whatever you want, it's your life. But you'll always have to spell your name a jillion times to morons on the phone.
posted by CwgrlUp at 4:09 PM on November 14, 2008


You can sometimes work around this problem by e-mailing the other person first, so that they receive your address and no phone-spelling is necessary.

Also: it's usually possible to have a second, easier e-mail address that forwards to your main e-mail address.
posted by amtho at 4:15 PM on November 14, 2008


I have a rather unusual name. During my life, I've spelt it the original Welsh way, the anglicised way, and gone by a nickname which is easier for English people to pronounce. I picked my own nickname, and ultimately couldn't be bothered with it. Here's why.

One problem with doing so is that people assume that your full name is the name that that nickname is usually derived from. (in other words, Ruaraigh goes by "Rob", and ends up with formal letters to "Robert").

The other problem is, it's not my bloody name! :-) It worked in university, and even through a relationship, but it never quite settled with me, and now I persevere with telling people the correct spelling and pronunciation. I also like my name!

On the other hand, I have an easily-spellable email address, which redirects to the account I use. If you have a name that starts with a "sh" sound, and an email address that starts with "S.surname", it will get through, and anyone you talk to in person will pronounce it correctly without being distracted by the spelling.

By all means give it a go, but I would recommend simplifying your email address (where spelling matters), and taking the rest with good humour. My current spiel is "it's Welsh, it means X", yours could be "it's Irish; 'bh' is pronounced v". Some people like that kind of detail, some are indifferent, but it draws enough attention to make them remember.

Sudden afterthought: going by first two initials (eg. "JP") is memorable AND easy to spell/say, depending on your initials.
posted by Wrinkled Stumpskin at 4:23 PM on November 14, 2008


From your metafilter name I could tell your full name. Maybe just use Sio? Quicker to spell, as you will have to spell your name anyways.

(I have a difficult name, and am just used to the moment of silence when they are trying to call me by name. The roll call gets quiet and I have to pipe up that they are probably trying to call me)
posted by Vaike at 4:23 PM on November 14, 2008


Reminds me of the comedy routine about how Sting started with that name.

I'd think Sha[e/y] would be a convenient and cool nickname.
posted by trinity8-director at 5:02 PM on November 14, 2008


For mails there's possibly an "internal" adress that might be easier to use, I usually give out the DEPTxx@ version of my name where xx is my intials. Makes things easier.

My colleague does this (well, more like just DEPT@) out of frustration at the bizarre misspellings of her surname, which isn't terribly unusual. There's a shared address from which we just forward into individual mailboxes, and the person will see the written spelling when they get a reply. I will also echo what everyone else says - I have to spell my surname nearly every time I give out my name, and it's not remotely unusual here in Ireland.

Joan is the anglicisation I've always heard for Siobhan, too, but if it's not your name and you've never used it, Sam seems just as good if you prefer it.

Just for contrast: my aunt, working in the UK as a Sinead during and after Sinead O'Connor's period most in the spotlight, has received post at work addressed to Sinbad...and Siphead. I think she's come to enjoy spelling her name, given the spectacular misses.
posted by carbide at 5:04 PM on November 14, 2008 [1 favorite]


Funnily enough I have a friend who goes by her middle name Siobhan although her first name is something pretty common that nobody would mispronounce or misspell.
posted by ruwan at 5:21 PM on November 14, 2008


Siobhan is a great name, and not at all unusual here in NYC. I thought it was pronounced "Shibahn."

That said, I have a French last name that is constantly butchered in pronunciation and spelling. Unless I am in France or Quebec. I would never think of changing it or altering it: I remember my father once met an unrelated person with the same last name as us who pronounced it in an Anglicized way, and he was utterly pained by the experience.

In short, be proud of your name, and don't give in to the idiots.
posted by computech_apolloniajames at 5:55 PM on November 14, 2008 [1 favorite]


Well, I went the other way and took a perfectly ordinary name (Sandy) which I always hated and used a rare nickname of my longer given name, with a weird spelling. So I get what you're saying, but frankly, if you like your name, just go with the constant spelling. Think of it as a moment in each conversation where you're making a human connection. Siobhan is not all that uncommon, and you are helping out the next Siobhan these people connect with.

Then, here's the future conversation I imagined--

vendor- I thought you said your name was Sam?
you- I did, but people are too stupid to spell my proper name correctly, so I use Sam because it's easier to spell.
vendor- .

Well, maybe not exactly like that, but you see my point.
posted by nax at 6:50 PM on November 14, 2008


first let me say that i have loved the name siobahn since i was 10 and a pen pal of mine told me of a friend of hers with that name. second, i am a male named ashley (the username is from an old funki porcini song that made me feel better about it). if you think explaining the spelling of your name is tough, imagine having to explain your gender. "no, my parents didn't think i was going to be a girl.", "i'm named after my great-grandfather", "seriously, that's MY credit card". these are all things i've had to tell people in addition to being asked to spell my name on the phone. my favorite goes...

someone who doesn't know me: "may i speak to ashley?"
me: "this is he."
someone who doesn't know me: "excuse me?"
me: "this is he."
someone who doesn't know me: "oh." slight pause followed by why they were calling.

that never fails to crack me up. my point is: sure it's annoying, most definitely it would be easier if people were better listeners, but people are thrown off by what is incongruous with their experience. i know i have always been more sensitive to other people's pronunciation and spelling of names and i bet you have too. wouldn't you rather be one of us than one of them?
posted by ashabanapal at 7:00 PM on November 14, 2008


Here's the conversation I have with vendors and clients on a daily basis:

me: ok, L like lima, i, o, s like sierra, L like lima, i, a, t like tango, h like hotel.
them: l...o...i....s ? Lois?
me: no... l...I...o...s.
them: oh... how do you say it? lie-ohs-lie-ath?
me: no, lease-lee-a.
them: is that a "p-h" on the end?
me: no, "t-h", but it's silent.
them: ok. that's neat. what nationality is that?
me: it's an Irish name, like Siobhan.
them: [either a pause of incomprehension or a "oh, right, now I get it"]

So, I feel your pain, I really, really do. The worst attempt ever at my name was "leviathan," which still makes me laugh.

As for picking your own nickname, sure you can. People TRY to give me nicknames all the time, but they get shot down, because I just don't like them.

"Hey, can I just call you 'L?' Or 'LiLi?'"
"no."

However - it's totally up to you. You have an awesome name, but if it bugs you to have to cater to the least common denominator on a daily basis, then Sam it is. Like it was mentioned above, your IT department can easily set this up, and it's a reasonable request.
posted by Liosliath at 7:30 PM on November 14, 2008 [5 favorites]


I have a friend in a similar situation. She introduces herself by the nickname exclusively, but her email signature lists both so that anyone who's confused can see the relationship. Example:
Thanks for the information.
Best,
Sam

*********
Siobhan "Sam" Smith
Vice President of Business
Omnicorp Inc
123 Street St.
Anytown, USA
(office) 123-456-7890
(cell) 098-765-4321
sam.smith@omnicorp.com
posted by LobsterMitten at 7:37 PM on November 14, 2008


Unless you personally have a liking for "Sam," you could just go with an actual shortening, like "Sha"/"Shah." I'm trying to think of the inevitable conversations you'd have to go through depending on which route you took, but I'm not sure which would be the path of least resistance. I'm curious as to why you didn't pick a nickname during your school years. I'd think going by a given ethnic name back then would lead to a lot more frustration. Has everyone always addressed you by your full first name?

I have an Asian name, but I was lucky only in that it's easily shortened to a more Western name. Some of my relatives weren't as lucky. God bless our parents and their sticking with names of their culture, but sometimes I wouldn't mind if I'd simply been named Joe.

And yeah, you can give yourself a nickname, as long as you're not a budding professional athlete (eg, "Ocho-Cinco"). And I hope to compensate for spelling out your name and e-mail over the phone, that you at least have an easy street and city. Like Main Street (or Wall Street), Springfield.
posted by TheSecretDecoderRing at 7:44 PM on November 14, 2008


Do YOU want to be known by a nickname or are you doing it just because it's easier for everyone _else_?

Another option, specifically for phone/mail/non-face-to-face gotta-give-it-out's, would be to go by your First.Middle. initials. You can also do this with email: FirstInitialMiddleInitial.Lastname@

I've had to spell both my first and last name (maiden and married) for my whole entire f*n life. That's 40 years to you and me. Recently I've been contemplating going back to my maiden name but can't decide which one is more unbearable to spell.

If you like your name, you should NOT give in to the idiots that don't 'get' it.
posted by Incognita at 7:58 PM on November 14, 2008


I wonder what my, now 2.5 month old, daughter will say. Her middle name is ceilidh!
posted by Country Dick Montana at 8:36 PM on November 14, 2008


As a Sorcha who frequently gets called Marcia, Georgia, Lisa, and Sandra on the phone, I feel your pain (and I have multiple work e-mail addresses that cover misspellings). (Every time I meet someone new, I have to go through the spelling and the origin rundown too -- do people really think they're the first ones to ask you? I'm totally getting it tattooed on my arm as a timesaver.) Of course you can pick your own nickname for work purposes. Maybe pick something that has some relation to your name -- like the same meaning, but the Anglo/French/Welsh version?

I kind of like my weird name. Lets me be mononymic like Cher or Britney.
posted by *s at 9:18 PM on November 14, 2008


I've met 3 Siobhan's in my life (all female) and they were all nicknamed "Von".
posted by robotot at 10:31 PM on November 14, 2008


If email seems to be your main problem (being that a messed up name on a letter will probably get to you, but a messed up email definitely won't), I recommend talking to your IT department about getting an alias that forwards to your account. So you could have s.lastname@job.com instead of siobhan.lastname@job.com.

Our work emails are flastname@job.com, and I had a coworker who had a long complicated last name so she asked for the alias firstname@job.com, and they had no problem doing that for her.

I am of the camp that you should stick with your real name. Weird names are cool. You have already made it through the more embarrassing part of your life when weird names can feel like the worst thing in the world (aka elementary school). Now you're in the part of your life where weird names make you cool and unique, as Mikell pointed out above.
posted by radioamy at 10:58 PM on November 14, 2008


I like my slightly odd middle name (Asher) and my guttural German last name, but it does present spelling/pronunciation difficulties. Given your constant interfacing with strangers a nickname sounds like an expedient solution. Just pick something and go with it -- if you're fine with "Sam", I don't see anything wrong with it not really matching your real name, although as a lexophile I might choose an English cognate like "Jo" (both of that and yours also sound like men's names, though).

I knew a Meaghan pronounced meh-GHEEN and it was no end of correcting people.

Sure, if you're at a level where having your name is a selling point like a brand, that's one thing, but if you're on the phone with vendors half the time that may not be the case. Save using your full name for when you get your own secretary, and make him do the spelling out.
posted by dhartung at 11:34 PM on November 14, 2008


My name is Timoni. If you're like most people, you'll pronounce it tim-OH-nee; it's actually pronounced TIM-uhnee. People come up with a million variations on my name (timony? tamony? tomony? timothy? tiffany? chimney? jiminy?). When I'm at restaurants and they ask for a reservation name, I almost never use mine. I feel your pain. Make up a nickname for yourself.

On the other hand, I'm the only Timoni I know, which is awesome. So I hope you enjoy that part of your name. :)
posted by timoni at 12:11 AM on November 15, 2008


I've spent my entire life being called Sarah, and upon correcting folks being told that I'm wrong, as though I don't know what my own name is and how to spell it, or accused of making it up to be unique. People are lazy, rude, living under a rock of Bobs & Marys, and poor listeners to boot, and I firmly believe they must be forced to deal with our nicer, more beautiful names, so my advice is to just keep correcting people. I so wish it wasn't getting the better of you.

Siobhan is a gorgeous name steeped in history and tradition, and on my short list for future baby daughters.
posted by zarah at 1:54 AM on November 15, 2008


me again!

i'm so heartened read all these neat little anecdotes!

yeah...on the one hand i don't want to cave in to the LCD of dumbing my name down for others, but on the other hand, as *s (sorcha) says, sometimes it just gets to be a pain having to explain *all* the time.

@secretdecoder - before the time of the interweb it wasn't really a problem. i have always been called by my full name, both by family and friends. i do sign informal emails as "sio" but don't really go by that in a spoken form. in school, my name in print was a lot more prevalent (people would see it in newsletters, or rosters, or assignments, what have you) so i didn't have to explain it all the time. i could just say the "b is a v". it's the spelling it over the phone that drives me nuts.

i also hear what those who have "normal" names are saying - you still have to spell it.

i think my plan will be to get a dept email that goes to me as suggested by several folks (deptname@business.com) to avoid having to spell either of my names! that would help a lot and i'm sure they'd do it. i will give more thought to the shortening/phoneticizing/nickname for the phone people based on everyone's replies.

thanks again mefites!
posted by sio42 at 10:15 AM on November 15, 2008


just a follow up - i did indeed get a dept email just for me! comes to my same inbox and all. very easy. people don't seem to care about spelling my name when it's not involved in my email address - and that is just fine!

so i will *not* being changing to sam or any other name :)
posted by sio42 at 7:25 AM on December 1, 2008


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