Tuesday, May 5, 2009

What's In A Name? Mis-pronounciasian Edisian*

One of the things which bug me the most about being Malaysian-Chinese is that people mispronounce my name. Shit, I don't even like trying to pronounce my own name, because it varies according to dialect. And some people insist on asking me how to pronounce it, when they can't wrap their tongues around the accents anyway.

It's not really hard to pronounce when you read it - it's two separate syllables, two separate words, each having its own sound. Some people pronounce it in a single word, which makes it sound different and it's just not my name.

So I stick to the English name I use, because it's so much simpler. Then back in Malaysia people can pronounce it according to their dialect. Other Malaysians, no matter what race they are, find it easy to pronounce my name, because they've been around those names all their lives. Yay multi-culturalism. Whenever I've spoken to mainland Chinese here in Canada, I make it a point to learn how to pronounce their names, and they always get this look of surprised pleasure when I get it right - "you can pronounce it!" they always say, as if it's some great feat. Well, yeah, of course I can, I grew up pronouncing those names!

The other thing that bugs me about this whole mis-pronounciation thing is that people somehow don't know how to say "Malaysia" sometimes. Now, of course, different people will pronounce it differently - most of us say some variant of "Muh-lay-see-ah", with different accents on different syllables. I personally say "Muh-lay-shuh".

The worst pronounciation I've ever heard of was "Muh-lay-zee." WTF?

Recently, a friend of mine said to his circle of acquaintances, "Have you met my Malaysian friend?"

They thought he said, "Have you met my little Asian friend?"

...

Yeeeeeaaaaaaaaahhhhhh.


* Title mis-spelling shamelessly ripped from Disgrasian.

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