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'My first name and surname are always a problem for people'

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In light of the story about mispronounced names at graduation ceremonies, people have been sharing their experiences of when others have slipped up saying their names.

Sometimes names may be difficult to say because they are not often heard in certain parts of the world.

Names might not be pronounced the way that they look or their length may leave people tongue-tied.

But names that appear simple on paper may still be problematic for some.

Here is a selection of people's mispronunciation stories.

Ben Bezuidenhout (Bez-ay-den-hote)

"I'm white and I have an English accent and an English first name.

"It always throws people off when they see my surname, which is usually followed by, 'Is that German or something?'.

"Throughout primary school, I got, 'Bezoodenhoot', 'Be-sad-and-hoot', 'Bezoydenhote', 'Bezweedenhoot' et cetera.

"My secondary school was overwhelmingly white British so my name haunted me here too. School registers were a nightmare. In a class of four Bens, I knew it was me when they hesitated after my name.

"The problem was that eventually teachers concentrated so hard on my surname that I was once printed a certificate 'Den Bezuidenhout', as if they assumed, 'No way is this ridiculous surname paired with such a normal first name'.

"My father had three boys so Bezuidenhout looks set to stay for a while."

The BBC is not responsible for the content of external sites.View original tweet on Twitter

Zbigniew Kajota (zz-BIG-niev ka-YO-ta)

"My old and rather traditional Polish name Zbigniew is quite tricky to pronounce for English speakers. I've lived in the UK for 12 years, and only a handful of people have managed to get it right - all of whom have heard the name before.

"When somebody gets my name wrong I never get offended. I don't expect people to be able to pronounce something they've never seen before, even if it's a word rooted in a phonetic language.

"For that reason, I've been going by my alias Ziggy ever since I was a child.

"I arrived in England at the age of 12, and at school every single teacher who saw my name for the first time on the attendance list stopped for a moment, figuring out what they should say. When such pauses occurred, I instantly knew my name was next.

"Usually I saved them the hassle and just shouted: 'That's me! Ziggy is fine!', or something along those lines."

Sion Williams, (male and pronounced Shaun)

"Although my name is fairly common in Wales, I can't tell you about the variants people have come up with, including a curt dismissal from a job interview because I was not the female PA that the firm were expecting.

"Written correspondence often addresses me in the feminine gender. Why? Can't the writer be bothered to check or even to ask - instead of just guessing, and getting it wrong?

"I now succumb to the temptation of saying it's a bit like Sean Connery or Shaun the Sheep."

The BBC is not responsible for the content of external sites.View original tweet on Twitter

Sanjay Batra (SAN-jay BAT-ra)

"Every event at which my name is uttered is an important event, which is why I pronounce it correctly and do not tolerate any sloppy mispronounced effort.

"The name is many generations old and is a huge part of my inheritance. I have given it to my son and daughter, along with knowledge of how it must be pronounced.

"Please, please, help to end unnecessary Anglicisation of names in our tremendous diverse society.

"By the way, the announcer at my daughter's graduation at Warwick some years ago said all the names so well. Kudos there!"

The BBC is not responsible for the content of external sites.View original tweet on Twitter

Ginny Lindle (Jin-nee Lin-dul)

"My first name and surname are always a problem for people.

"My slimming club leader has been calling me Guinea - yes, as in guinea pig - for months now.

"I often receive letters addressed to Mrs Lidl when I give my details verbally - even after my usual description of 'it's like Kindle but with an L'.

"It's embarrassing and very awkward. I've often considered changing my first name so at least one of my names will not confuse people.

"I hold a fairly senior position but it's hard to make a good first impression when people ask your name several times - usually with socially awkward laughter!"

The BBC is not responsible for the content of external sites.View original tweet on Twitter

By Andree Massiah (female pronounced ON-dray muh-SY-ah), BBC UGC and Social News team

Related Topics

  • Names

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