People Don't Understand Hyphens

Posted on Tuesday, January 18, 2011 by Alex R. Cronk-Young

It sometimes amazes me how dense people can be. My wife's name is Zoe, which is pronounced exactly how it looks. Still, pretty much everybody with that name pronounces it as Zoey, so I can understand how everyone does the same for my wife when reading her name in written form.

Yet, even when one of us says her name out loud to someone, they come back with, "Oh, hi Zoey." 99% of the time. No, nobody said Zoey, they said Zoe. If I was in that situation I would never respond with anything but an attempt at pronouncing it exactly how I heard them say it, even if I'd never heard that name before. If you'd never met someone with the name hispanic name Jesus (I can't do an accented U on my laptop), would you return their introduction with, "Oh, hi Jeez-Us. Nice to meet you!"?

But after trudging through that swamp of stupidity, I discovered an even bigger pond of muck. Apparently people don't have the slightest idea of what they should do when someone has a hyphenated last name. On top of that, they can't even fathom of a man having one.

When Zoe and I were engaged, we talked about the whole name issue. She didn't want to take my last name, Young, because she didn't like the way Zoe Young sounded. It probably didn't help that my brother joked about it sounding Chinese, but either way I wasn't going to force it down her throat. I didn't particularly want to change my last name completely either, so I understood it.

Still, I didn't want us to have two different last names because we wouldn't seem like as much of a family then. So, we both went with Cronk-Young and I couldn't be happier. I love having a (most likely) completely original last name that no one else has, and it feels like we're our own family, apart from her parents and mine.

But I never dreamed of the responses we'd get. We've seen everything at this point. Some people just skip the hyphen and write out Cronkyoung. Others invent their own name using an amalgamation of the letters. A lot of people just pretend half of it doesn't exist. They look down at what's written and look back up at me to say, "Uh, Mr. Cronk?"

Do people seriously ignore people that blatantly whenever they speak, or are people just completely unwilling to adapt to something they haven't yet experienced? Or is the entire world full of complete morons? Those are the three reasons I've thought up. Have you got a better explanation?

2 Response to "People Don't Understand Hyphens"

Chris "Cosmo" Ross Says....

I work with a girl with a long, hyphenated last name. Her parents did the same thing as you. Anyway, one time she told me that when she was getting her debit card, the people said that her last name was too long and wouldn't fit on the card. "Would you like to just use the second last name?" She told them no, that that's her last name. They ended up fitting as much as they could or something.

Chris "Cosmo" Ross Says....

I meant to include this, too: No, people don't understand hyphenated last names. And they don't understand regular names, either.

Also: Zoe Young does sound Chinese!

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