The mispronouncing of my name


Quiz Magic Academy Figure Clara, from AmiAmi

Occasionally, I come across people that take the pains to ensure that others pronounce their names properly, especially if their name has a particular spelling that can often lead people to splutter over the pronounciation. While I was once also like that for many years, I haven’t been that way ever since mid-high school, and it’s interesting to go back and look at why.

The way you pronounce my first name is in fact the American way, where you stress the first four letters in a ‘Claire’ sound, then add an ‘ah’ to the end. Unfortunately, most people that I meet will usually be more acquainted with the British way, where the name sounds more like a hard K, then ‘Lara’ tacked on the end.

I don’t blame them, because I usually prefer the British version of things too, but in the case of my name, it’s hard to change the pronounciation of it when I have been hearing it that way for my entire life.

Teachers usually mispronounce

I remember trying to correct teachers about the pronounciation of both my first name and last name in primary school, but eventually towards the later years, it seemed that there was really no point. I think it was at this early stage that I first began to think that there was no point defending the pronounciation, and rather just learn to answer to more names, as constantly correcting was more difficult than just living with it.

In year 4 when teachers constantly mispronounced my name, for a while I considered changing my name to ‘Clera’, as it would stress the ‘e’ sound that my name needs, and seemed phonetically more sound. For my troubles, I was laughed by a malicious classmate called Gloria who mocked the change, pronouncing it as ‘Clear-ah’ before laughing in my face.

For some reason, my teachers never had a problem with my friend’s name ‘Clare’, but always used the British pronounciation of my name. I suppose ‘Clare’ must be a more common sight than my name, even though there was only the difference of one letter between our names.

Eventually, when teachers asked if the pronounciation was right after pronouncing it the British way at the first roll call, I would just shrug and say ‘it’s fine’. Friends witnessing this that knew the real way that my name was pronounced interestingly also eventually took to defending me on my behalf by notifying the teacher of the accurate pronounciation despite my own apathy.

Not just English

Back in Year 8 though, a seed of that defiance still lingered about the way my name was pronounced, such that when we were distributed name signs to be placed on our desks I felt that the sign that I had been given definitely felt wrong.

I knew very little katakana at the time, but from the teacher’s pronounciation, I knew she had written my name as ‘Kura-ra’ (クラーラ), as the name tags were just an excuse for her to use them to call on us. I felt at the time that it should have actually been written as ‘Kure-ra’ (クレーラ), but as we had not learnt katakana, I couldn’t change it myself, and additionally couldn’t bring myself to let her know.

Today however, which inspired this post, I discovered a figure on AmiAmi called Clara — not something that occurs that frequently. To me it seems most characters named ‘Clara’ are written ‘Kurara’ (くらら), showing just how widespread this British pronounciation is.

At least if I ever talk to an American, I can be sure of them getting my name right in an instant, judging by the American friends I’ve talked to through Skype, who addressed me accurately immediately and notified me that they always thought my name was pronounced as… the way it is.

But wait, spelling?

Despite having given up on spelling my name alternatively in order to assist in proper pronounciation though, only a few years back I noticed that my neighbours have always spelt my name as ‘Claira’, though I wasn’t entirely sure they always addressed me with the right pronounciation.

This idea was interesting enough for me to use it in an email address, but I have realised since that it was a bad idea, as it often lead to questions asking if I had misspelt my name on forms because my email address is different. Oops.

Let’s not even start on last names.