As Latinos, we often like to pass on our heritage through our food, our music, our culture — and, most importantly, our names. But, let's be real, while having a Spanish nombre is great, it comes with its own unique set of challenges.
These are the eight problems that people with Spanish names have all experienced:
1. #1: No One Can Pronounce It
Seriously, your name gets butchered beyond all possible comprehension on a fairly regularly basis. Like, daily. Every time you introduce yourself to someone, you're faced with dread over the possibility that they will A) be unable to pronounce it and simply stop after the first syllable or B) attempt a non-Spanish solution. Suddenly, your name is "Mary-Soul" instead of Marisol.
2. #2: Saying Your Name ALWAYS Means Spelling It
Anytime someone asks you for your name, you automatically begin spelling it. Often, this involves spelling things multiple times, and then just accepting the fact that you've completely wasted your breath because they're going to spell it wrong anyway. While this can prove annoying for legal documents and hotel reservations, it's most obnoxious at Starbucks.
3. #3: You Can Just Forget About Those Accent Marks
Oh, your name has an accent? Well, I hate to break it to you, but it's time to make a decision. Either you need to eliminate your ñ or í entirely, or spend hours of your life explaining to people how to correctly spell your name (and no, it's not correctly spelled if the accent is missing, ok?) As Michael Peña notes, accent marks hold a powerful place in Spanish language and culture. Unfortunately, many people skim over their importance, instead of taking the time to learn how to properly spell a name.
4. #4: People Refuse To Call You By Your Real Name
Instead of attempting to say your name properly, many simply re-christen you with an "Americanized" version of your own name. Oh, your name is Miguel? From now on, you're going to go by Michael. Guillermo? You're Willy now. And Maria? You're Mary. Despite repeated requests, many refuse to call you by your real name.
5. #5: Your Multiple Names Confuse Everybody
Take it from Soledad O'Brien, whose real name is Maria de la Soledad Theresa O'Brien: non-Latinos have a really difficult time understanding the concept of multiple names. Official legal documents also do not seem to understand the necessity for more space to fill out names! Too many Latinos have been forced to count their losses and shorten their names to simplify matters.
6. #6: You're Constantly Asked If You're Related To Someone
Perhaps your last name is Lopez. Sometimes, people assume that means you're related to every single other person named Lopez in the entire universe. Including Jennifer Lopez and George Lopez, presumably. Nope, sorry, I'm not related to your best friend's daughter's middle school teacher, but thanks for asking anyway.
7. #7: People Using The Word "Exotic" As A Compliment
Raise your hand if you've ever heard some variation of the following statement: "Oh, your name is Esperanza. That is sooo exotic."
I actually have two tias and a cousin named Esperanza, but I guess that's besides the point. The real problem here is the subtle implication that Latino culture is different, weird, or simply not the norm. I'd much rather receive a compliment on my "beautiful" name than on my "exotic" one, thankyouverymuch.
8. #8: You Experience Extreme Joy & Shock When Someone Gets It Right
Despite the fact that having a Spanish name can be an enormous pain in the butt, it definitely has its perks. Having a Spanish names means you get to represent your culture every single day of your life!
Besides, there's no better feeling than the extreme joy you experience everytime you meet someone who can properly pronounce (or spell!) your name.