top of page

What’s in a name?

I recently went to get a smoothie. Nothing special or fancy. The nice lady behind the counter asked me for my name and I told her. She asked me how to spell it. I had just learned a new way of answering that from a friend with a complicated name, so I said “However you want” in the quest to not unnecessarily overcomplicate things. Or so I thought. This is how she spelt my name:

My name, in Germany, is about as boring as it gets. Tanja. My last name didn’t help to make me stand out and I wasn’t given any middle names (a story for another time, thanks Mama!). So it blew me away when, moving to the US, my name suddenly was considered different and cool: “So like Tonya but with a J… how exotic!” But the novelty of being called “Taaaansha” quickly wore off.

Why did I even tell the barista to write it however she wanted… Those of you with unusual names (or common names with unusual spellings) will know why – it’s an irritating, sometimes awkward, often funny but mostly tiresome to constantly either hear an odd pronunciation of your name or to have to correct the spelling. For my birthday the other year, I got a

cake that said “Tajna” on it. My husband made it very clear to the baker that he wanted a J and not a Y – so much so that she got so confused and gave up on the rest of the name.

And then there was the time I turned into underwear.

So sometimes I just go by T now ... or TBS. Something so American to just use the first letter(s). I think this is out of a need for self-preservation. Case in point, I have a friend whose name is Jörg… I think he prefers “J” over being called “Jerk”…

22 views0 comments

Recent Posts

See All


bottom of page