The difference one letter makes:
“What’s in a name? A rose by any other name would smell as sweet” – William Shakespeare’s Romeo & Juliet ~1597
“What’s in a pronunciation? A name by any other pronunciation would sound as sweet” – The Curator Lady ~ 2015
My daughter’s name is Maruwa Inês. Pretty simple right? Her first name means flowers in the Shona language, which is very phonetic, so there’s no trickery involved in pronouncing the name. Her Portuguese middle name only has 4 letters, which should leave very little room for error. Granted the Portuguese use an excessive amount of the “sh” sound in my opinion, but that shouldn’t get in the way of us saying her name correctly should it?…Oh but it does!
A lesson in pronunciation
So here is where it goes awry. From the moment she was born, literally as they were cutting the cord, I was asked what we are naming her. My response – Maruwa: Mar-Roo-wah. Immediately in unison, my gynae and urologist say “MARWA”. With a gaping hole in my abdomen, I didn’t feel this was the time to correct them, so I lay back and listened as they cheerfully discussed the meaning of the name as they stitched me up and prepped me for my stent removal. From what I gathered on the operating table, Marwa is from the Arabic name of a fragrant plant and Al-Marwa is one of the names of a sacred hill near Mecca. Good to know!
Somehow goes wrong
This would not be the last time I would have this type of exchange, where I confidently say her name then comes the quizzical look because people think I’m mispronouncing my own child’s name! And even worse, the audacity of the ones that go as far as to correct me when I say Maruwa instead of Marwa.
As for Inês, any guesses as to how that is pronounced? The Portuguese pronounce it ee-NAY-sh
I told you earlier about the “sh” sound 🙂 Not so straightforward anymore, is it?
Coming full circle
I set out to write a short blurb to accompany a video about flower arranging with toddlers and took a bit of a turn. But I’m sure you can appreciate how my wandering mind got to this point 🙂 The post is about flowers, my daughter’s name means flowers, which got me thinking about how I’ve suffered 2 years of mispronunciation of her name and how she may have this struggle for a long as we are living in an Arabic speaking country. Is she going to have to politely say to people, “it’s Maruwa with a U”? Or will it be more bearable for her to use her middle name and have it mispronounced with a “z” or an “s” sound instead of “sh”?
It’s amazing what a difference 1 letter can make, which leaves me wondering – did we really think this name thing through? Will the mispronunciations be ok with her?
On that note, here’s a mini movie of Maruwa with a U making her first floral arrangement.