We’ll start with a name

This is how I’ve learned to introduce myself over the years. It’s not as though I have one of those long, painfully spelled names like “Conchobhar” or “Anegrethe” or even “Toirdhealbhach” (that one’s a Gaelic Irish name.) In fact, my name is literally monosyllabic. However, I generally run into two problems:

1. My name is not spelled phonetically.

It got to the point where my classmates cheered whenever a substitute teacher said my name correctly. I don't blame the subs for getting it wrong, though.

2. My name rhymes with everything.

It's so bad that I eventually started ignoring anything that sounded like my name. My friends will often scream my name to get my attention, but I still won't notice.

Unlike many Asian-Americans, I don’t have an “American” name that I go by. When my parents named me, they specifically wanted to give my sister and I Vietnamese names that Americans can pronounce. Thus: I’m “Vy,” and my sister is “Lynn.” (The English form of the Vietnamese “Linh.”) My middle name was originally intended to be “Quynh,” but my mom deemed that too complicated.

For all my quips and qualms, however, I like my name. It’s what I’m used to, and I wouldn’t change it to anything else. When asked,

After all, a name is your identity. What you respond to. A part of who you are.Β  Maybe I just lack the imagination to see myself being called by a different name. But for me, Vy is here to stay. Anyone else have stories of mispronounced names? I’m sure they’re fairly common.


12 thoughts on “We’ll start with a name

  1. While my first name is no problem for people, people love to butcher my Korean name. And for some reason, they feel the need to know it. This annoyance then leads to the said-decapitation of my name. I feel ya Vy.

    And I will proudly proclaim that I was one of those classmates who cheered. Those substitutes did deserve it, you have to admit.

  2. AH! Great post. See, your comics make my day better. Your comics are the cure for common Algebra. ❀

    VEEE! V for Victory. πŸ˜› Haha. I don't think I've ever had a problem with people messing up my name–it's pretty simple. Katherine. Kate. SOMETIMES, though, someone will spell my name wrong. Catherine. With a C. I'm like…GODIESOMEPLACE

    You're right, though…our names are our identities. ❀

  3. I got called tori “mo-whore” by a sub once :3 its to the point when people ask me for my last name I say “Mohr, m-o-h-r” except a lot of the time that comes out as “moremohaicharr.” haha I really like your name though. However before I met you but I knew people like ali paul and they would mention you and I got really confused. like, I though that ‘V” was short for some ridiculous name like veronica lol.

  4. While my name doesn’t need any explaining (I am the greatest sniper in the world, who came from Sniper Island!!! Where is it you say? Silly girl, why… it is in… your heart.) Where did you get the idea of Vivian? And do you wear glasses OR NOT?! It’s getting confusing. And your earlier drawings have you with a thinner neck, more freckles on each cheek (of the face) and and WAY crazier hair! The evolution of an artist’s drawings. Very interesting. Watch Gravity Falls.

    • Well, when I was younger, people always asked me if “Vy” was short for “Vivian.” It makes sense. Most people’s names don’t sound like a letter.
      Coincidentally, another friend of mine pointed out that my drawing have changed too! I guess it has, though I didn’t notice. I personally think that I draw my hair crazier now!

  5. Hi Vy,

    I don’t really know you, but I’ve been on an exchange as well (Australia july 2011 – April 2012, high school) and one of my fellow exchange students sent me a part of your blog (something about usefull advice for exchange students, I don’t remember the title anymore xD) I thought what you wrote was very true and interesting and the way you wrote it was just amazing, with all those comics in the middle πŸ™‚ I then read your blog “viet girl in Germany” and I loved it. I love reading blogs from other exchange students because although everyone’s exchange is different, still a lot of feelings/thoughts are actually really similar between all exchange students. It was also great to see your view on Europe (I’m from Belgium, next to Germany and I’ve got a lot of friends that live in Germany so I know the country quit well… I recognised most of what you wrote about and it was really funny and interesting to read about the things you found strange, but we in Europe find normal ^^ A way to learn about someone’s culture, is to find out what they think of yours.)

    So anyways I loved your blog so much that I decided to read this one as well (I’ve read the beginning and the end, but inbetween there are so much posts that it takes some time to read everything xD)
    Like I said I realy love the fact that you combine text with comics, it makes it all the more interesting. I’m not that much into cosplay/anime/manga myself but I’ve got a brother and friends who really are, so I do know the names of all the famous ones but I still haven’t go time to read/watch any of it yet. I do LOVE Harry Potter though!!! It’s the best thing ever written and I love reading it again and again and again, so I was really envious of you Cho Chang Cosplay (BRILLIANT) and I just think that the way you make your cosplay costumes is really nice (I reckon it takes a lot of creativity to find the right things to make a costume with).. oh and I saw some pokΓ©mon as well, I love it πŸ˜€ So the point is that you often call yourself a dork/geek/… like it’s something bad or strange, but I just love dorky people, they’re the best (that’s meant to be a compliment :p)

    Ok here I am rambling on about your blog, so it might seem a bit strange that I’m posting a reply to your first post rather than to your last, but it has a reason. I just re-read this post and I can totally relate to this name-confusion-buissiness. My name is Joke (I bet you spotted the problem right away), it’s a perfectly normal (slightly oldfashioned) Dutch name, so here in Belgium everyone can pronounce it. However I have this passion which is travelling, meeting people from different cultures etc. so since I went on an internation camp when I was 16 I’ve constantly had problems with my name. People make jokes about it (how ironic xD) and give me funny nicknames or pronounce it completely wrong. My teacher in Australia were exactly like your interns, so that cartoon could’ve been a snapshot out of my live as well. That’s why I wanted to reply to this post and then I realised you actually don’t know me, so I found it common courtesy to actually write something about myself as well and review your blogs in general ^^

    So this was my awfully long reply to your blog post.
    I will continue to follow your blog and I hope you don’t think that that’s a bit creepy. I’m not stalking you or anything, I just love your writing style and I’m curious as to what life is like where you live and in your uni (I’m in the middle of my first year at uni, studying psychology).

    friendly regards from a fellow exchange student


    – oh in case you’re curious, my name is pronounced “Yoka” (when I write it this way, every English speaking person can pronounce it quit well) –

    • Hi Joke,

      First of all, thank you so much for taking the time to leave a comment! Reading comments is one of my favorite things about blogging. And it’s not strange or creepy at all! I have a few people who comment regularly, and I’m posting my comics on the world-wide internet- it’s here for people to read and enjoy! πŸ˜€ Trust me, no one stalks my blogs as much as my mom does.

      You’re from Belgium and did an exchange in Australia?! That’s kind of super awesome! I’m actually applying to go to University of Sydney this fall (fingers crossed, I hope I get in XD) so, if you don’t mind, can I ask how your experience was? Were there any things that surprised you/wished you had known before going? I guess we’re from different countries, so we have different perspectives– but you’re right, all exchange students share similar feelings. Where did you stay?

      And thank you– I definitely take your comment about dorky people as a compliment πŸ™‚ I often make fun of myself for being such a nerd, but it’s also something I would never change. It’s the same with my name– it’s a bit inconvenient at times, having to constantly explain it to people (you understand πŸ˜‰ ) but I’m quite fond of my name and wouldn’t change it!

      Again, thank you for reading my blog! (And even Viet Girl Goes German… wow, that takes me back) Feel free to leave a comment/send me a message whenever you want, I usually try to reply to everyone. I’m glad you found my site– this comment really made my day. πŸ™‚

      From one exchange student to another,

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