According to the good bard, a rose by any other name would smell just as sweet. I am no rose, and I don’t care how I smell, beyond praying I don’t suffer from halitosis, but I long for the day when I can introduce myself and not have a distorted version of my name flung back at me.
My name is Gargi, pronounced Gaar-gee, rhymes with ‘car key’ but substitute the hard g sound instead. The first time people hear my name, the many unflattering variations they conjure up are as follows.
Rhymes with Fungi. This name would be appropriate if there existed an organism called a ‘gargus’ and I amounted to many of them together, thus becoming the plural, Gar-gai. Despite the many flaws in my character, no-one has, so far, compared me to a fungus or any other such moldy substance.
Q. Why did the mushroom go on holiday?
A. Because he was a fun guy.
Why don’t people understand – if my name was George, I’d spell it that way, wouldn’t I? Do they think I’ve deliberately changed the vowels just to flummox potential acquaintances?
Studies have found that people calling me over the phone are especially liable to confuse me for a Greg or a George. They dial my number in feverish expectation of a hunky male voice, and then react in great surprise when my dulcet feminine tones stream down the phone. If I had a dime for every time I answered my cell only to hear ‘May I speak to Mr. Gargi?’ I would be richer than Mark Zuckerberg.
Close on the heels of George came the insufferable nursery rhyme Georgie Porgie. The chants started as soon as I boarded the school bus:
Georgie Porgie, Puddin’ and Pie,
Kissed the girls and made them cry,
When the boys came out to play
Georgie Porgie ran away
It only hurt more because Georgie Porgie was a boy.
This one crosses all boundaries of decency. I assume the offender had consumed one pint too many, and taken it upon himself to spoil my day by drawling my name like this.
In India, one tags a ‘ji’ to the end of a name to connote respect. So “Jar-ji” would be appropriate if one was addressing a jar, but I am not a jar, even if people might accuse me of being shaped like one.
When spoken with a French accent, ‘Jarji’ sounds like a badly cooked French dish, which again, I am not. Maybe they were aiming for ‘bourgeoisie’ but got ‘jarji’ instead?
This is the number one most popular pronunciation of my name. The first syllable rhymes with ‘fur’, and overall it needs only a little juggling of the alphabets to be turned into Fergie, which means I might turn up as a popular Duchess in London. I am toying with the idea of moving there for good, and assuming the title ‘Gergie – Duchess of Dork.’
Fear not, this is neither a mispronunciation nor (I hope) an assessment of my character, but ‘tis instead a mere nickname for my humble self. Friends and foes, fed up with pronouncing my name wrong, resorted to this simple word to express how they felt about me. It helped that when you type Gargi in Microsoft Word, it offers ‘garbage’ as a viable alternative. MS Word, I feel the same way about you.
Gags or Gargs
This is, thus far, the most popular nickname I’ve had. Old friends, who still remember my name and on occasion my birthday, refer to me by this affectionate nom de plume. A friend who eventually moved to Australia hit upon an extension of this that became wildly popular among my colleagues – Gags the Bags.
Graggy or Gragi
I think they mean groggy, but I can never be sure. Possibly I got stuck with this nickname the day I downed two glasses of wine and one glass of champagne and tottered to the loo in a hurry.
This is the word for a coarse, dark sugar, especially the one made from the sap of East Indian palm trees.
It’s nice to be thought of as something sweet, but really its not. I’m not that sweet.
Other alternatives offered by MS Word
No thanks, MS Word. I can get myself misnamed without your help. In the meantime, write down my name – it’s spelt G-A…oh hell, just call me Miss G.
Oh, so many giggles throughout! The permutations and combinations of misspelling and mispronouncing some of our country’s most simplest names, are infinite. My highly common name gets butchered like you will not believe! Thanks for the morning laughs, Miss G 🙂
Glad you enjoyed the piece, Nandini! I’m shocked that even your simple name can cause confusion. Then what hope do I have??
Feeling very smug as I’ve pronounced it correctly in my head. But, should we ever chance to meet, I’ll probably splutter out one of those mispronunciations. You’ve given us all a wide choice here!
Oops! I hadn’t thought about the wide choices I’d given, Anne! But you got it right in your head, so you’re my hero(ine)!
Oh that must get really annoying! Too bad you can’t hand this out everywhere!
I don’t mind making a pamphlet or a placard out of this!
Ha, this was fun! Reminded me of a Goodness Gracious Me bit. Watch this: (I wasn’t able to find a Youtube equivalent.) But yes, as someone who lived outside of India for a long time, I totally get your pain 🙂
Thanks, Sharath! The tragedy is people in India also butcher my name like this!
And thanks for the awesome clip! I think I’ll link to it when introducing myself!
I loved seeing this clip again, that was such a fun programme.
I was reminded that my name – Anne spelt with a silent e on the end – was often pronounced Annie in India, but I quite liked it that way as one syllable does get a bit boring.
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Hi Anne, yes, one of the biggest problems of Indians when it comes to English is that – or at least was, before internet and Youtube – we often knew how to spell and write words, but we didn’t know how they were said.
Names such as yours are an example. In my case, we had a supplementary reader of the ‘Trojan War’ in high school along with phonetic representations of the names. All names ending with ‘e’ were pronounced with the ‘e’ at the end – like Aphrodite, Athene etc. So I used to think Anne should also be pronounced ‘Annie’.
Only after I moved to an English-speaking country did I realize that I was wrong.
That’s a smart way to hit at those annoying spelling of your name, Gargi. It sucks, I know!
Thanks, Vishal! I don’t think you would’ve faced this problem!
Mazaa aa gaya yaar. What a hilarious post!
I love Humor and have been implementing it in my Speeches in Toastmasters and have written a few posts too (check Humor category filter on my site).
My wife’s name is Saru, not Saaru, as some call her!
Gergi – I agree that would be a common one for you!
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LOL! Thanks, Alok!
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