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Why getting the name right matters…

When I ask someone I interview for their name, it seems a normal, logical question.

When I ask them to spell Joe or John or Susan, they look at me funny. They especially do this if I’m somewhere with a program or name tags or if it’s someone who feels I should know how to spell their name. But I always assure them, I’m particularly sensititive to having my name misspelled, or in at least as many cases, completely wrong. I’ve had my name wrong on more name tags than it’s been right on, and I’ve even received certificates with an i instead of an e. Though you’d think someone would proof them.

At least five times this week I have received e-mails with my name spelled wrong. There’s the obvious, Miranda. I can at least understand that, as usually if I’m calling or if they’ve called and simply asked “Who do I send this to?” it really isn’t worth the time to mention the spelling of my name.

But aside from that, this week alone I’ve gotten: Marinda, Maranda, Merenda and Melinda. Two of them from people I regularly interact with on my beat. Two of them also from people who were responding to my own e-mail (with my name correctly spelled).

I usually laugh. At one point, I probably would have been offended. But I’ve gotten used to this at this point in my life, and it never ceases to amaze me the crazy spellings people come up with.

Which is why, even though people look at me crazy when I ask them how to spell Lizz (two z’s in this student I interviewed yesterday) or Brandan (an a not an o) or Jon (no h), I will continue to do so. And someday, maybe, someone else will return the favor.

2 Responses to “Why getting the name right matters…”

  1. Maria V Says:

    That’s the mark of a professional journalist — no assumptions! :)

  2. Brad Says:

    Working in radio, I have this bad habit of asking someone their name, recording the answer, and then promptly forgetting that name.

    This is especially true when I’m doing person on the street interviews where I meet dozens of people in a matter of an hour or so. I feel like my recording is a safety net, but as often as not I’ll get back to the office and listen to the tape only to realize that I can’t quite make out what they said.

    I’ve lately taken to repeating people’s names when I meet them. Lucy, why do you think crime is the biggest issue facing Philadelphia? Or at the very least, thanking them by name when the interview is over.

    Spelling doesn’t matter as much in radio (unless you’re posting a transcript online), but it’s still important to get names and pronunciations right.