Picking your baby’s name is both fun and tricky, as people are quick to judge parents based on their decision. Add the potential of unintentionally mispronouncing a foreign name, and the situation gets even more complicated.Flickr CC/slgckgc
As Kidspot reported, one mom found herself in a sticky situation when a friend revealed her new daughter’s name. The issue isn’t that the mom doesn’t like the name. She actually thinks it’s lovely … when pronounced correctly.
Rather, the problem is that the family chose a French name with a diaeresis (those two little dots) and a well-known pronunciation. And they’re saying it wrong. As the mom wrote on Mumsnet:
Friend has had a baby girl — Anaïs.
Lovely name, but they pronounce it Annay, and not An-eye-ees.
I saw it written down before I heard them say it, and said, “I love the name Anaïs,” to the grandmother (also my friend). She told me that that’s not how it should be pronounced.
The mom concluded by asking what others would do in her situation. Would they try to tell their friend about the proper pronunciation of Anaïs? Or just let it go?
Commenters were split on whether to correct the pronunciation and how to go about it. Many understood that it was an awkward situation but felt like they wouldn’t be able to avoid saying something:
Cringe! I would have to tell the parents they are saying and spelling two different names. (Not sure if Annay is a name?) Surely when you are considering baby names from another language you listen to the pronunciation on Google?
Another mom wrote:
I’m not sure I could have resisted a disingenuous, “Oh silly me! I always thought it was Ann-eye-ees because the two dots over the ‘i’ separate out the letter sounds!” But this is just the sort of thing that annoys me, probably unreasonably.
There were a few suggestions that the mom find a subtle way to bring it up, without directly correcting the family:
Oh dear! I am not sure that this information will be particularly welcome!! Is there a closer relative you could discuss this with who could diplomatically bring this up? They are just making themselves look a bit ignorant [to be honest] and poor child! To have to constantly explain…
However, there were also many who saw no way to correct the parents politely:
I think that, no matter how much it might grate, if a parent has decided a name is pronounced a certain way, then that is the way that child’s name is said. It might be pronounced differently to everyone else who has the same spelling but ultimately the correct way is the way that the parents have chosen.
Another commenter wrote:
The polite thing to do here is pronounce the kid’s name the way the parents want it pronounced. It’s really none of your business and you’d just look like an arse […] trying to correct them. Their kid, they choose the pronunciation, just like you’d choose yours. As a [previous poster] said, parents can spell and pronounce a name any way they like.
And a few defended the different pronunciation:
Honestly, it’s none of your business. Anaïs pronounced “Annay” made my shortlist, and despite being aware it isn’t the correct French pronunciation, it wouldn’t matter. It’s my choice.
I would pronounce it Annay too. I loved the perfume and always called it Annay Annay as did everyone else I knew. I guess it is their child and they can pronounce her name as they wish.
But the concept of pronunciation relativism was deeply annoying to others commenters:
I have no patience with the idea that parents can call their child anything they like and the rest of the world is expected to just fall in and accept their idea of how it should be spelled/pronounced. Using a non-standard spelling/pronunciation is going to cause endless hassle and confusion, for your own child more than anyone else. Why would you do that?
Then again, regardless of whether the mom corrects her friend, it’s likely that time will solve the problem.
As several commenters pointed out, the rest of the world won’t bother to ask about preferred pronunciations. Little Anaïs could spend the rest of her life correcting people or just adapt … especially if she ever spends time with people who speak French:
Yes, she will have a lifetime ahead of her explaining the pronunciation (especially if she ever moves to an area with a reasonable sized francophone population — which could of course mean London!)
The mom said she was leaning toward keeping her mouth shut and avoiding calling the little girl by name. But she did admit that there was a chance she would trip up:
“Oh god — I’m bound to put my foot in it at some point. I’m not known for my tact either.”