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Your Name Is Too Difficult for Me to Pronounce

 
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One of the biggest things that shape your identity is your name.

And one of the most common things for Latino/a/x’s is hearing that your name is “too difficult to pronounce.”

“Oh sorry Jesus, It’s easier (and more comfortable) for me to call you Jay”

I know you know EXACTLY what I’m talking about here.

Here’s the thing: 

When you refuse to pronounce someone’s name properly, you disregard them.

When Jesus becomes Jay the consequences may seem mild to you because what’s the big deal right? But to us, it feels like yet another slice in the “thousand papercuts.”

Your name is like a melody. It’s the song of your life and cultural history.

After I married my husband aka the #gringocowboy I kept putting off changing my last name.

I wanted to take his last name, but I had finally gotten into a place where I was owning and honoring my history which included the correct pronunciation of my maiden name “Soler.”

The better part of my life had been spent allowing people to mispronounce my name because it was “easier” for them. It still shocks me that this is still acceptable.

“I’m gonna say your name this way bc I can’t pronounce it” was an all too familiar response to my trying to be helpful by saying “It’s pronounced Soh-lehr with a soft ‘e’ .”  

Commercial Break: Who was Tchaikovsky and how much time did you devote to pronouncing his name?

My mom was smart as a whip in school and skipped two grades. Not only was she the youngest in her new grade but also she was and still is very petite. Remember those kids? The smart nerdy ones that get all the answers right? Suffice it to say it wasn’t pleasant for her. But there was one girl who went out of her way to be kind to my mom.

Her name was Denise.

I love the intimate meaning behind Denise and love the history and cultural connection to Cuba behind my father’s last name Soler.

Names have meaning. Pronouncing them correctly honors that meaning and connection to family, culture, and history.

Pronouncing it correctly honors the song and I know you care about that right?

And just in case you’re wondering, I chose to legally change my maiden name to my official middle name as a way of honoring my ancestors and including them every time I say my name. Denise Soler Cox.

What’s the story behind your name?

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