My father is Jewish and my mother is a Protestant (shades of Judy Blume’s Hello God, It’s Me Margaret, except in that story, Margaret’s mom is Jewish and her father is Protestant! coinky-dinky!). And because my father immersed himself in Judaism (he’s Filipino but he converted when he lived in Israel), naturally his children had to have Jewish names too. Which was okay really, because my last name is VERY Jewish and my one of my first names (I’ve been given one of those 2-name first names) is a VERY common Jewish name for a girl. You would think I would think it was cool. The second name in my double-barrelled first name is nice…I like it A LOT and I don’t mind having to spell that one out. But the first part of my first name is a bit tricky. It’s such a bizarre spelling for the name that I’ve had to spell my name to everyone ever since I can remember (having to spell one’s name out ALL the time will be very traumatic for a 6-year old!).
I’ve learned to accept that my name is my name (not if a deed poll can help it!!!) and I’ve resigned myself to the fact that I will have to spell out my name for the rest of my life. But when I worked at a call centre, I had the chance to “anglicise” my name. So my call name became Evie (and the name eventually stuck, and all my call centre friends started calling me Evie). And you pronounce it EE-VEE.
When I lived in Manila, I used to listen to this morning radio show everyday. I was really impressed with this duo of radio hosts. They were funny, the conversations they had were sometimes silly but always had very intelligent foundations. They had an almost cult-following! And the kicker was that they spoke excellent American-accented English. Now, you might say that I’m being quite the elitist. But it was important to me that the people I was listening to actually spoke good English. I didn’t want to spend mornings nitpicking their grammar (I wasn’t called the grammar police at one of the call centres that I worked in for nothing!).
This morning show would invite viewers to contribute to “top ten” things. And when I wanted to entertain myself whilst being crushed in the MRT, I would send my contributions by text. And one day, I nearly started jumping up and down in a packed MRT carriage when they read out one of my contributions. But the anti-climax was when the male radio show host read my name out. He said the contribution came from EH-VEE. My joy balloon went pffffft! I wanted to say, “Hoy, that’s not my name! My name is Eeee-veeee!”
Then I laughed at myself. It’s the story of my life. If I don’t have to spell my name out, I have to pronounce it properly to people.
Sometimes I wonder what my father was thinking!