Chelo

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“Chloe”, called the teacher reading out the class roll. There was no answer. She called several more times, before adding the missing student’s family name.
“Chloe Tan?”

Still no response. And it didn’t make sense because the number on the roll didn’t tally with the number of students in the class. Chloe had to be here and not responding to her name being called, for some reason. The teacher then went down to the only child who hadn’t responded to the roll call and asked, “Chloe? Why didn’t you answer when I called your name?”, to which the child answered, “but that is not my name”.

Pointing to the name on the roll, the teacher asked again, “this is your name isn’t it?”

The child then very innocently replied, “yes, but my father and mother call me ‘Chelo’.”

That and other tales of parents naming their kids Anglo-Celtic-Judaic-European names and then mispronouncing them were exchanged by troopers waiting for our last parade to assemble last Saturday. There was also the story of how people were late for a ‘Jeremy’s‘ birthday party because the banner at the party venue read ‘Happy Birthday Jerome’. It took a while but it was finally explained by the birthday boy that he was named ‘Jerome’, but that his parents pronounce it as ‘Jer-o-me’, and that’s what he has always answered to.

It’s not dyslexia, obviously. Any other non-European, non-Roman alphabet-using ethnic group would have difficulty even approximating the correct pronunciation of their given names, and Mandarin pinyinisation has simply given Chinese in this country names just as foreign-sounding. Add to that parents who embrace the use of names from other than their own ethnic origin, and you’ll get instances of kids telling their teachers, “my name is Penelope and it rhymes with antelope”.

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4 thoughts on “Chelo”

  1. haha, this is so funny, because i actually have friends with perfectly nice names, but a really thwarted pronunciation. eg: josiah –> joe-sia (sia: as in prawns in chinese).

    But they’re cool about it.

  2. haha, this is so funny, because i actually have friends with perfectly nice names, but a really thwarted pronunciation. eg: josiah –> joe-sia (sia: as in prawns in chinese).

    But they’re cool about it.

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