It’s Carolyn, Damn It!
My sister’s name is Carolyn, spelled C-A-R-O-L-Y-N, pronounced Carol-Lyn, not Carol-Line. However, it sometimes seems as though she is called anything but her correct name. Former boyfriends have given her names such as Carrie, and one odd fellow she dated briefly insisted on calling her Carol. She has regularly been referred to as Caroline, Carolina and even Karen, far more often than she has been called Carolyn, which is actually her proper name.
She has had to deal with ridiculous comments such as “Oh hi Caroline, I see you spell your name with a “Y-N” at the end.” I, as well as my sister, find this exasperating.
Growing up, my sister was extremely shy. This may be one of the reasons she eventually gave up on constantly correcting people when they mispronounced or misspelled her name.
While there is indeed one name called Carol, and yet another name called Lyn, for some strange reason, although most folks have no problem pronouncing either one of those two names correctly on their own, when the two are put together, it becomes somehow impossible for the average brain to register how to properly say the name Carolyn.
Funny, people who actually do bear the given name Caroline most likely do not experience the same frustration as my sister does. In other words, they probably don’t have to say “My name is Caroline, not Carolyn.” Why is the reverse so difficult an idea to grasp?
Why can’t people just accept that there is actually a name known specifically as Carolyn, just as there is the name (a completely different name) Caroline? It is annoying enough for me to hear the mistake in pronunciation of my sister’s name made over and over again; I can only imagine how irritating it is for her, having to go through life constantly correcting people when they address her.
When my own name was repeatedly misspelled by an editor recently I had a small taste of how my sister feels. The fact is that once a name is pronounced or spelled incorrectly, it often becomes a different name altogether.
Even when my sister and I go out for coffee to a place where the barista asks for our names, ultimately when her coffee is ready, the cup is almost always adorned with the name ‘Caroline’ or some other such variation – just not, of course, Carolyn.
Family members are not exempt from guilt when it comes to calling my sister Caroline, even though they have known her since she was a baby. I myself once made a careless spelling error and accidentally left off the last letter of my sister’s name when sending an on-line condolence from our family, leaving the reader to possibly wonder if she now referred to herself as “Caroly” rather than Carolyn.
When people ask me “How’s Caroline?” I feel like answering “Don’t you mean who’s Caroline?” Constant mispronunciation of a person’s name is almost the same as getting the name wrong altogether – because as much as Caroline may sound like Carolyn, that is not my sister’s name!
After dealing with this her entire life, she now occasionally finds it easier simply to go along with people when they say what is essentially a different name when they should be saying Carolyn.
In this day and age when there are so many unusual, often made-up names, the name Carolyn should not seem like such a foreign concept but, surprisingly, it is.
I would love to be over at my sister’s place the next time someone calls her and asks for Caroline just so I could watch her inform that person that he or she has the wrong number and then abruptly hang up the phone.
Personally, from now on if anyone enquires about Caroline, I think I will simply respond by saying “I don’t know anyone named Caroline, but I will be sure to pass on your regards to Carolyn.”♦
Copyright © by Andrea Freedman 2014
Posted on January 29, 2014, in Weekly Thoughts and Observations and tagged Some of the simplest things sometimes seem like the most difficult to grasp.. Bookmark the permalink. 10 Comments.