A few responses have come in for my post about Names That Ain’t Workin’ so I figured I’d add something about my name, the use of “foreign” names, and more.
First, the last issue. I don’t really see the point in taking on a foreign name. Sure, it would give Koreans something to call me that would be easy for them to pronounce, and avoid them mangling my real name. (Which they sometimes do.) But I like to think human beings, languages, and cultures are flexible things. I like to think I could live in another culture and keep my own name.
To do this, though, you need a certain flexibility of your own. You need to be ready to see your name spelled “wrong,” and take it with a certain grace and amusement. For example, the name credit for the first story of mine translated into Korean (in this book) is spelled “고드 셀라.” In fact, I have also seen it spelled other ways, like “고든 셀랄” (which ignores that I go by Gord, not Gordon, and which adds another L where there should be an R).
In fact, I spell my name in Hangeul this way: 고드 셀러. It’s a compromise, the ㄹ러 at the end meaning the “R” is swallowed, but then, it often is anyway when some Anglophones say it (and that’s how my father pronounced it all his life).
I can’t call such a thing “name discrimination” (as I’ve seen it called elsewhere) because, well, it seems too overblown to me, for my own experience with this kind of thing. It’s just people getting a name wrong. Not a big deal. Maybe because at least I could expect people would get it close to right for most of my childhood. (Even if, thanks to a famous hockey player, lots of people wanted to call me “Gordy” or “Gordie” — which, like my father before me: he was another “Gordon” — I absolutely hate. Calling me Gordie is a good way to experience pain very quickly.) Even if I got teased because suddenly it stopped being a Scottish name and became an alien name… ah, yes, Alf, who, like me, played the saxophone. Er…actually, I think it’s just a the way the image from the season 3-4 intro stuck in everyone’s heads, but:
Anyway, my point isn’t that I was victimized. I pretty much think it’s amusing, funny, no big deal. It’s life. At least, that’s the attitude I expect an adult to have about these things.
I get people’s names wrong sometimes too. Or forget them. Er, sorry, in advance, if I forget your name. I don’t even mean just Korean names. Sometimes I remember a face, but not a name. (By sometimes, I mean often.)
Some people suck at names, too. That’s also just a part of life.