Hello, my name is Wodline. For almost 18 years of my life I allowed people to pronounce my name incorrectly. It is something I regret not correcting earlier in life. To my family and church friends I was “Wood-leen”. To my classmates and everyone else I was “Wood-line”. I HATED that! I felt like I had two identities. As an adult, I sometimes cringe when former classmates address me as “Wood-line” when they see me. I think it is mostly because I associate “Wood-line” with the shy broken girl who kids made fun of.
I recently asked my mom why she didn’t tell my teachers how to pronounce my name correctly. My mom’s response was, “I don’t know. I was a just come. I thought that’s how you say your name in English”. After her response, all I could do was laugh and smile. The language barrier played a huge role in this, so I couldn't be upset at my parents. My parents and I came to the United States in the early 80’s. If you don’t already know this, I am Haitian girl who was born on the beautiful island of St. Maarten.
With a name like mine, growing up was not easy. Kids made fun of me and said hurtful things about my name, but I had to get over it. Whether they knew how to say my name correctly or not, they still would have probably made fun of me. My name was common to Haitians, but foreign to them. Oh…and then there were the nicknames.
The nicknames I was given were:
- Woody Woodpecker
- Woody Woods
- Wood Chuck
- Woody (I have still have friends who call me this.)
There were probably more, but I can’t remember them all. I didn’t mind them, except for “Woody Woodpecker”. As long as you didn’t call me out of my name, we were cool.
It was during my senior year of high school, when I realized I refused to go to college having to introduce myself as “Wood-line”. That was NOT my name. One afternoon during one of my classes, I decided to tell my classmate Eric that my name was actually pronounced “Wood-leen”. His reaction was PRICELESS! He basically yelled at me for waiting so long to tell him. We’ve known each other since middle school, so I understood where he was coming from. After that day, I felt a load had been lifted off my shoulders. I began to tell others, but there was no way I would have been able to tell everyone I knew at school. I regret not speaking up sooner, but it was something I had to accept.
I know I’m not the only Haitian or immigrant who has gone through this. What saddens me is that I know of so many Haitians who still do that “Creole/French way” versus “English way” of saying their name. Why do we do that? Why can’t we teach people how to say our name correctly? Whatever the reason may be, it is my hope that no matter the origin of your name you teach people how to say it correctly. There shouldn’t be two ways of saying your name, just the RIGHT way.
Hello, my name is [Wood-leen Hip-oh-leet] and I am a Mompreneur, Wedding Planner and Savvy Startup Specialist.
P.S. Please be advised that this post is mostly referring to names that are uncommon in America. I know things can get tricky when you have a name like my sister, Dana [Don-nuh]. =)
P.S.S. My name is spelled with one “O” not two. =)