In defense of a consistently mispronounced name.
I have one of those names that gives immediate pause. Is it Day-na? Dann-ah? Donna? Diana?
I answer to all of them.
The easiest way I’ve found to cue people to (what my parents tell me is) the correct pronunciation of my name, is the same thing I’ve been using since before I can remember: It’s Dana. Like, Dana-Banana.
Think that’s rough? You can talk to my sister Carie, with one R.
My father had a vendetta against consonants. He defended the spelling of our names by telling us that our last name was so long, he didn’t want us to have the hassle of extra, unneeded letters. For me, it just begs the question as to why my middle name is Kathleen. If we’re worried about extra letters, how about something simple like Ann or Sue to bring down that letter count?
As a child, my parents were adamant that I correct people who mispronounced my name, leaving me to the popular rhyme that served me well until a three-year stint in England, where “Dana-Banana” sounds more like “Donna-Bonnona.” That one’s on me.
Is it worth the hassle to correct everyone? Nope. It’s not. I make a case for my name with new friends, coworkers, clients, and neighbors—but I’ll let that barista call me Diana, and not lose any sleep over it.
People have asked me why I don’t change the spelling to Danna or Dannah—but I can’t imagine what Dad would think of all those extra letters, and I like being in a unique club with all of the Kirstys and Meegans out there.
Having a difficult name taught me to speak up for myself at young age. It was the one and only time I was ever allowed to correct adults and my first, little taste of power—confidently being in the right and taking ownership of myself.
In all, not a bad thing to bestow on a kid.
So to all of the Danas, Meegans, Kirstys, Leahs, and Carolyns out there—keep on keepin’ on.
We got this.