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The last is first

July 11th, 2004 · 3 Comments

I had to laugh today while reading Fred’s description of the song and dance he does when asked for his last name. I laughed the laugh of those who feel a sudden companionship in their sufferings, those who finally know that they are not alone, that another traveler has shared the same road. In my life I’ve had two last names and both of them have been troublesome for forms.

My maiden name was an English one. English as in British. It was a compound word (perhaps more appropriate for my German heritage), an oxymoron, a subject of numerous teases in childhood. Although it was simple to spell, I always received questions. It’s a common name in other countries but an unfamiliar one here in America, at least in certain locales where I lived. So I ended up spelling the entire last name, all umpteen letters of it. “Just like it sounds”, I’d say. “Just like it sounds.”

So when I chose to take Ted’s name, only five letters long, I figured it would be easier. Ha ha. Funny. At least it takes less time to spell it out. If I pronounce it the way it should be said, it is more difficult to spell. So I’ve learned to say “Leung” with a more phonetic pronounciation for English speakers, and I’ve learned patience as people almost inevitably, even when I spell it out, misplace or mutate letters of my name.

If I could make my last name my first name, perhaps that would be easier. But then again with the variations in spellings, even “Julie” can’t be assumed.

For Fred though, his last name is First….

Tags: journal

3 responses so far ↓

  • 1 Bob V // Jul 11, 2004 at 7:49 am

    I feel your pain too. I experience the reverse problem more often. It is virtually impossible for the average American to work up the confidence to start to attempt to say either my first or last name. The names contain too many letters they have never seen adjacent to each other before. When someone is calling out names and I see that they are about to break out into a cold sweat, I get up, smile, and tell them it’s me.

    That’s why I go by Bob.

  • 2 fred1st // Jul 12, 2004 at 4:06 am

    Okay, Julie: the phonetic pronunciation of your last name please. I’ve been all over the map trying out different spins on Leung. At least FIRST is easy to say! Still, better not to have a name that is a noun or adjective. Knew a guy in college named Charlie Pancake. Sheesh!

  • 3 Kris Hasson-Jones // Jul 12, 2004 at 1:48 pm

    My maiden name was always mistaken for Martin. (It’s Marlin, like the fish.) Then I married Mr. Hasson–a name nobody seems to get right, most frequently mistaking it for Hassan (even when I spell it). Can’t wait till the kids grow up and I can drop the Hasson and just use Jones, my current husband’s name.