Sunday, May 24, 2009

How we learned to pronounce our son's name correctly, part 2

We thought we had this figured out back in January of last year. The Thai waitress at our favorite restaurant spent a lot of time helping us learn to say T's name correctly in Thai. (It's not pronounced as it appears.)

Today, we were lucky to be invited to the Thai American Association picnic. There is good news and bad news.

The good news: We had a blast and met a lot of really nice Thai families. We also ate our fill of amazing Thai food.

The bad news: Everyone we introduced T to pronounced his name differently than we do (but the same as each other). They all recognized the name and knew the meaning right away (some even shot an imaginary arrow from an invisible bow to demonstrate).

It is kind of embarrassing to have 20 people all correct the pronunciation of your kid's name. Although, in Thai fashion, everyone was extremely gracious and no one actually told us we were wrong. But it was clear. Our non-Thai friends heard it too.

I assume our waitress friend must have a different accent or dialect. In all honesty, our social worker in Thailand also used the alternate pronunciation, but at the time, I assumed *she* was the one with the different accent. We even listened to an online dictionary say his name in Thai about 50 times tonight. To my ear, the dictionary-voice is somewhere in the middle between the 2 pronunciations.

So now my only question is, how long will it take me to remember to say his name correctly? T is totally fine with the change - we used it once or twice and now he's already referring to himself with the new sound, as if to say, "what took you guys so long to get with the program?" (Although perhaps he's just confused, because our little comedian is also telling us his name is "Jim" and "Chicken", with a sly, satisfied smile on his face.)

In the long run, the new pronunciation will be easier for people, as it sounds a lot more like how it's spelled. I feel a little silly, but I'm glad to be able to make the correction when he's only two.


Anonymous said...

I think there are something like 5 or 6 dialects/langauges in Thailand, so that must like you say explain the waitress saying a different version of his name. I think there is the same thing with Western Names, my neighbours boy is called Eli, but people kept pronouncing it Ellie (girls name) even at the doctors surgery, so they ended up having it changed to Elijah.

rosemary said...

It's so hard to get it right with Thai pronunciation. That guy Shyaporn, whose vlogs I love, said in one of his postings that, "The transliteration of Thai to English is the Thai people's revenge for Yule Brenner." I nearly died laughing!! Ya'll are doing a great job and I'm sure T will appreciate your effort.

Hannah said...

Okay - so what's the way to say his name? I'll need to practice too :)

Robin and Kyle said...

Roses - that's hysterical about Yule Brenner. =)
Hannah - it's tah-KNEW. We don't want T's name google-able, but no one would type that into a search engine to look for him. =P

rosemary said...

Hey guys,
Thanks so much for the fancy new thai adoption blog roll that I see you've set up! It's very user friendly and I think lots of people will appreciate having that for our little community!

Wyndee said...

I totally understand your frustration with pronouncing Thai names. We adopted our daughter, Sophie, in 2004 and kept her Thai name as her middle name. I have yet to pronounce it correctly! :-( It's Warinthorn, and I think it might be Sophie's great mystery in life-- how to say her name.