B l o g
My many Names
08 Aug 2006
My name may be beautiful but it's not simple. Added to pronounciation difficulties I may start getting called something different once I have children.
Moreen, Miriam, Mary, Marion, Mao-reeeen, Noreen are just a few of the renditions of my Christian name Muireann. A Microsoft Word spell check will even underline my name in red to highlight that no way on earth this M u i r e a n n could actually be the correct spelling for anything. If the Microsoft Word spell check had a face it would be Ugandan. Most Ugandans turn to my fiancée with a look of “No the poor child doesn’t even know her own name”. They repeat every name they know that is similar to mine and when I’ve rejected them all they settle on one they think most suits me (or their palette).
I completely forgive them because at the best of times even the Irish can’t get my name right. I tell Irish and other Europeans that my name is like Merlin except without the “l”. With Ugandans that’s a really tricky thing to say to them because mostly they can’t pronounce “er”. Water becomes wa-tah, shepard becomes ship-hard and heard becomes had. The “r” sounds are also frequently confused with an “l” and vica-versa. Lisa become Risa and Lauren oddly enough became Noreen.
In attempt to stem the tide of being called Moreen for the rest of my life I’ve decided to tell people that my name is MacCool (I don’t bother with the Irish spelling anymore). Luckily MacCool is similar to a Ugandan name Makumbi. That’s my name these days and it’s good, it works and I respond well to it. I also am known as FX’s wife in Luganda even though we are not married. The luganda word mukala (pronounced muchala) means respected woman, which is not technically wife.
If and when I fall pregnant I will have a troublesome nine months thinking of my first-born’s Christian name (FX’s elder pass on an appropriate clan name which may not be FX’s name). Most parents have to worry about whether the name will result in bullying, be too common or just down right dull. I on the other hand will loose my name MacCool and be called Maama first-born’s name. Will I be Maama Fionn or Maama Bernadette. I have to choose something good for them and me because I’ll be known as Maama So and So for the rest of my days. Also if I bare twins I will also loose my name Maama So and So to the traditional mother of twins name: Nalongo. The father is called Salongo.
For the moment I’m just happy to be called MacCool and so far so good. Moreen is deffinately miles ahead of being called Muzungu.