You Know What Really Grinds My Gears?..Pronouncing Complex Last Names

So, welcome to my new series “You Know What Really Grinds My Gears?” inspired by Family Guy.

So, what grinds my gears this time; your convoluted last name of course. I absolutely hate pronouncing these particular last names with a passion for several reasons… 1) I won’t remember your last name 2) I’ll probably butcher your last name and lastly 3) I don’t care. I work in an industry where customer service is paramount and of course you don’t want to offend the person. Some individuals are very sensitive about their surname and given any chance they will correct you. Silent letters and a mixture of vowels confuse me even more. I am educated and love learning new things but keeping up with last names is not one of them. In high school I took French for three years and I distinctly remember the students who studied Latin across the hall. While knowing the origin and etymology can help it’s the thought of saying it when it’s not necessary that bothers me. Yes I’m lazy.

Now, I love my eclectic group of friends from different regions and countries but pronouncing their last names is like pulling teeth. The thought of trying to correctly pronounce a 15 character, string of letters with an alphabet soup of random vowels is something I rather avoid. In my quest to at least try I say their first name and then last letter and many will respond with “yes”, “that’s it”, or “good job.” There’s a fine line between mispronouncing a letter or two and incorrectly calling someone a fly or cricket instead of a mountain, waterfall, or courageous warrior. HA, you get where I’m going.

Recently I commented on a friend’s Facebook status and a female (changed her first name) by the name of “Jana” Flugstashahian contributed to the conversation. Being the sarcastic person that I am I referred to her as Jana Whatever Your Last Name Is. I continued to refer to her as that on purpose in hopes of getting a correction and proper pronunciation but she never returned to the conversation.


I can pull off the above last name but…hey lets keep it simple.

Lastly, your last name, surname, or given name is something to be proud of, I must admit, but it’s irrelevant if it’s too difficult to say, murmur or even slur. If I casually meet you through a mutual friend then it’s a guarantee that your surname goes into one ear and out the other; I’m sorry that’s reality. I’ve provided a tool here to help those who want to take it to the next step. I am culturally diverse, I love everyone, and our differences make us unique but your first name is enough for me. Speaking of first names lets not get on the subject of naming your child something they can never afford like Lexus, Porsche, or Mercedes. That’s a different post and I have a lot to say trust me. Lets keep it simple.

– Trae McNeely

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You Know What Really Grinds My Gears?..Pronouncing Complex Last Names

So, welcome to my new series “You Know What Really Grinds My Gears?” inspired by Family Guy. So, what grinds my gears this time; your convoluted last name of course. I absolutely hate pronouncing these particular last names with a passion for several reasons… 1) I won’t remember your last name 2) I’ll probably butcher […]