Tuesday, December 08, 2009

Banana Fanna fo Faura

This is going to be a challenge, because this message is best communicated through speech. Unless you and I have already had this conversation in person, you're not going to know how to pronounce the various spellings of my name the way I mean you to when you read it below.

To assist you, I'm going to provide a pronunciation guide to this post. Whenever you read these words, you should pronounce them accordingly in your head:

The vowel in Laura rhymes with fauna as in flora and fauna.
Lora rhymes with Dora as in the Explorer.
Lara rhymes with Sarah -- take your pick of reference.

I was introduced to another Laura this past weekend. Every time I meet a Laura, we have the same conversation:

Laura: "How do you spell it?"
Me: "L A U R A"
Laura: and do you pronounce it "Laura" or "Lora"
Me: I say "Laura"
Laura: Me too! People seem to have a hard time with it.

She told me about her struggles in getting people to pronounce it right. She asks people to say “Laura” and they always look at her with a focused face and say “Lora”.

Here’s another conversation I have often when I first meet someone:

New person: Hi, what's your name?
Me: Laura
New person: and how do you pronounce it...

This is where I stare at them for a few seconds to see if they can figure out that they just heard me say my name two seconds earlier.

You'll never hear me correct people when they call me Lora. If they ask, I'll tell them how I prefer it. But there are people who've been calling me Lora for years and I don't mind.

OK, so if you've been calling me Lora and you do something to tick me off, I might say, "It's Laura" when you say my name just because it might be all I have to express my displeasure with you at that moment.

I'll tell you what though, if you call me Laura, whether it's because you once asked me how I pronounce it or you've picked up on how I pronounce it when I refer to myself, I might hold you in a little higher regard because that tells me you pay attention.
But if you've been calling me Laura (the correct pronunciation) for years and "Lora" finds its way out of your mouth in reference to me, I'll flash you a confused glance.

I decided I was going to write about this a long time ago when I was in Cancun at a little grill on our resort. I ordered a burger and the cashier asked,

“What is your name?”
“No, LAH-ra”

I sat down and several minutes later I heard,

“Sarah? Your burger’s ready.”

Had I not been the only person there waiting for her food, I would have had no idea he was referring to me.

I was at Rubio’s recently and I ordered my meal to go. They asked for my name. When I picked up my food, they gave me my receipt:

For awhile, my sister tried to campaign to get me to change the spelling of my name to “LARA” so people would pronounce it right. I don’t think she will, but if she does deny it, I can show you a manila folder with pictures of me down in my parents’ basement with her handwriting that spells: “Lara.” I never really jumped on that band wagon. I’ve always been fine with the spelling of my name.

The fact that my name was difficult for people to pronounce was made even more clear whenl I tried to get a robot to say it. Apparently robots have a hard time pronouncing my name the way I do. Awhile ago I was sending a Monk-E-Mail to my niece. I tried to get the monkey to say my name right with the following spellings (in this order of trial):


And the winner is...Laara. At least I figured it out.

Yesterday I was surfing around for online name pronunciation guides. I felt vindicated when I looked up “Laura” and found this:


I wish I thought of that phonetic spelling when I was trying to get the monkey to say my name. But click on the “listen” link.

Right? The voice even sounds like me doesn’t it? I swear it isn’t.

I immediately looked up “Lara”. There was no audio file but it did say “rhymes with Sarah” – THANK YOU!

Then I looked up “Lauren” – another name similar to “Laura” that people seem to pronounce differently. This time there were two pronunciations available:


In conclusion, I would like to say that there is no general right or wrong – there’s simply the way the person who possesses the name prefers it.

I know there are Lauras out there who prefer to be called Lora. That’s OK too.


Annie said...

I know that I called you Lora once and you gave me a dirty look. It was weird when it came out of my mouth. And I'm pretty sure it was Carri who originally clued me in that it's Laura and not Lora, so don't ever call you Lora. Thanks Carri.

And don't even get me started on Sundee. Looks pretty phoenetical, (is that a word?) but no one knows how to pronounce it.

Laura Lee said...

I remember when you called me Lora that one time. That was weird.

You're forgiven though because I know you had a previous roommate who spelled her name LAURA but preferred to be called "Lora".

carter said...

You need a "Laura" to get REALLY famous so that everyone learns to say it right. That's really the only way, I think.

Doing a quick Google test, it appears Laura Ingalls might be the most famous, and unfortunately she pronounces it "Lora", right? You're screwed.

Jergs Family said...

So little Lauren deals with this ALL the time! Even her Grandma (not Suzi) says "Loren". And as far as a famous person goes - there is Lauren Becall! (Did I spell her last name right?) Anyway, I feel your pain. And Lauren has it double bad since people always mispronounce our last name as "Jorgenson" even if I spell it "J-E-R-G-E-N-S-E-N"!

carter said...

Oh, don't think people don't mispronounce "Durham".

Jergs Family said...

Serious? I can never tell with you, Carter. What do you get? Dur-Ham? I say that just for fun!

Annie said...

Carter, I can change that, I'll find a way to mispronounce Durham.

Laura Lee said...

Yeah, people mispronounce it all the time. When I graduated high school my name was announced as Laura Durman or Dunham or something. Mostly they just read it wrong.

Although I do hear DurHAM too.

Lisa Marie Trent said...

hehehe it was "Durman."


Yeah I remember that campaign. I was all alone.

carter said...

People say "dur-HAM" (like the pig meat) ALL the time. More often than not. Growing up I always knew that if someone called asking for "Thomas der-HAM" I was to say he wasn't home, because it was undoubtedly a telemarketer.

Kelly D. said...

I know I struggled at first. I had a really good friend growing up who did the "Lora" thing. At least I don't call you "Lisa," right? (Although I know the kids sometimes do. Sorry!) I get called Katie all the time by friends and family :) My brother even ended up texting the wrong sister the other day.

And yeah, Durham is a challenging last name. Most people say it wrong initially and you ALWAYS have to spell it for people. Sometimes I really miss my old "Rose." Everybody, even telemarketers, could say and spell that one perfectly.

Ilene said...

Remember when I was pregnant with Thomas but I didn't know the baby was a boy and I of course wanted to name the baby "Laura" if it was a girl but Dan said we would have to spell it "Lara" (which is totally Lair-a) because he didn't want for our daughter to have to have her name said wrong her whole life and so I had you write him an email saying that you didn't mind being called "Lore-uh" and in fact you found that the mispronunciation to be a great conversation starter?

Well do you?

That was my longest run on sentence ever.

Unless you exclude my voicemail messages.

dre said...

I want to thank you for all the times you stood up and told people my name was Dre and not Drea. I still don't get where they get the a from.

And it's the kristen, kyrstin, kristie, krjistins I will refuse to ever say. It's just too hard.

Anonymous said...

You are extremely IGNORANT saying that the pronunciation of Laura as Lor-uh is a mispronunciation. Look up the name on any pronunciation site or dictionary and there are two ways to pronounce it: Lor-uh and Lah-ruh. And guess what? Lor-uh is often listed first. So, how does most of the population pronounce dinosaur? I rest my case!!! Lor-uh rules!