DEAR READERS: Yesterday I printed some of the letters I received from readers who felt I was wrong to advise a stepmother to caution her stepdaughter about giving her baby a name that will be pronounced differently than it is spelled. Today, I'll share the thoughts of those who felt my advice was on target. Read on:
DEAR ABBY: Thank you, thank you, thank you for your response concerning the odd spelling of a baby's name! I have worked in the public school system and in customer service, and I speak for many when I say that nothing is more annoying than trying to figure out how to pronounce or spell an invented name. It's also frustrating for the owners of the names, who must spend their lives explaining to people how to spell and pronounce the names their parents stuck them with.
Some parents (usually young ones) seem to think a weird name is "cute." Nothing is further from the truth. Thank you for having the courage to speak out for babies who have no choice in the matter. -- LINDA IN PHOENIX
DEAR ABBY: I have worked as a nurse for more than 25 years in newborn nurseries. Too often people give cute and original names that only end up being a burden. Many a time have I asked a child's name, only to hear one that will make that child cringe in the future. And often, these same parents go out of their way to make the spelling impossible!
Suggestion: Give a basic middle name the child can fall back on if needed. Please remember that in the flash of an eye, that baby will be in school, where other children will be cruel. -- R.N. FROM ALBUQUERQUE
DEAR R.N.: You're right. A woman once wrote me that her daughter intended to name her baby girl Diana Rhea, which I emphatically discouraged.
DEAR ABBY: That letter reminded me of a story my mother, a retired schoolteacher, told me about one of her students. His name was spelled on all school documents as "Demacus," so that's how all the school officials and all the boy's friends pronounced it.
One day, the boy's mother came to pick him up from school, heard the teacher call the boy "Demacus," and became indignant that she was "mispronouncing his name -- it's DemaRcus!" The teacher pointed out that his name was spelled without the "R" on all his paperwork, and the mother grew even more irate, stating, "Well, I don't know how to spell it, but it's DemaRcus!"
If you can't spell it, please pick another name! -- JENNIFER IN TEXAS
DEAR ABBY: Thank you for pointing out the social implications of odd name spellings. I encountered a little boy who, I am sure, has felt the impact of this every day of his life. His name is Jade. His mother pronounced it something like Zhar-day. When she told me, I looked at that beautiful little boy, shook my head and said, "I'm sorry." -- CHARLES IN HUNTSVILLE, ALA.
DEAR ABBY: I can tell you first-hand that an unusual name can be a handicap socially and in business. My mother shortened a family name and added an ending that comes from a language not in my bloodline. It was humiliating when I was growing up. People do not remember names because they are "unique." No one ever forgets the name "Mary."
I believe I have missed many business contacts because people felt awkward because they couldn't remember my name, and it has caused trouble because documents and contracts often had to be redone due to a misspelling.
Please urge your readers to consider this when naming a child. Growing up and business life are hard enough to negotiate without having to fight for your identity every five minutes. Trust me. -- "TM" IN KENTUCKY