Wednesday, July 20, 2011

Spell It Right

As I was riding home on the subway last night, I came across this passage in Sloane Crosley's hilarious essay collection I Was Told There'd Be Cake, which my building's book fairy left in the mail room. (Thank you book fairy whoever you are!) Ms. Crosley was doing a tally of various things that happen as a result of having an unusual name. (In her case, Sloane.) This particular part resonated with me:

Number of times I have received an email with my name spelled incorrectly in response to an email originating from me and therefore making use of the correct spelling of my name and thus have passive-aggressively retaliated by leaving off the last letter of the sender's name in all future correspondence: 32. "Thanks for getting back to me, Rebecc."


Like Ms. Crosley, my name is somewhat unusual, not in the religious community where I grew up but in the more secular sphere I now inhabit. In addition, my parents chose an atypical spelling of my first name -- "Dvora" instead of the more common "Devorah" or "Devora." As a result, I don't get too riled up when someone spells my name incorrectly. I'm usually just happy if the person can pronounce it correctly. But like Sloane, I do find it rather odd when I initiate an email correspondence and the person spells my name incorrectly in the response. Don't you see how I signed it? I wonder. Or more simply -- look at my email address. It's spelled properly there.

Same puzzlement goes for Facebook messages no matter who they originate with. It is very easy to see how to spell my name since you had to click on my profile or select my name from the list in order to send it. And yet I get many that begin this way: Dear Devorah. How hard is it to look one centimeter above your message to see how I've elected to spell my name? No matter how frustrating/amusing this is, I haven't retaliated as Sloane has by adding an "e" or "h" to people's name though her essay puts me in mind to start.

But "correcting" the spelling of my name predates email and Facebook. It goes all the way back to nursery school. Like any four year old, I was proud that I could write my name and proudly showed off to my teacher, who proceeded to correct me. While I handle this just fine as an adult, four-year-old me when she got home and showed my mother what my teacher had done. My mother sent in a note with me, explaining to my teachers that "this is how we've chosen to spell Dvora's name."

So if you're sending me messages via email, Facebook or any other place where my name is plain as day, please try and spell it right or I'll have to get my mother to send you a strongly worded note! (And this note will arrive via snail mail since she doesn't own a computer.)

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