Spell your name, please

Published 10:42 pm Thursday, March 12, 2009

It’s frustrating to have someone misspell your name. It can be just as frustrating to be asked repeatedly how your name is spelled.

This happens to me all the time. Yes, even though there are a billion Mims in the Chilton County phone book, the name can look foreign to someone who is not from here. Or, maybe I just write sloppy.

If there’s one thing I’ve learned in the newspaper business, it’s that you cannot guess on the spelling of names. There are multiple ways to spell many names, and then there are the clever people who invent new spellings so their kid can be “unique.”

Hardly a week goes by that I don’t encounter a name that is totally new to me. Even after typing in countless school honor rolls, this still happens constantly. I start to wonder sometimes if some of them aren’t made up.

For this reason, I typically don’t change the spelling of names printed in our newspaper unless they are obviously misspelled. That way, if they appear the way they were submitted to us, we can’t be blamed for the mistake.

Of course, when a phone number is provided we try to contact people to confirm name spellings. But people are not always reachable, and in that case we just do the best we can.

Then there are the names that crack you up. Face it, some names are just funny, unless of course they’re yours.

We have even compiled a list of hilarious names here in our office that we add to from time to time.

What I will say is this: If you have a weird name and don’t tell somebody how to spell it, don’t expect people to spell it right.

I personally think any name longer than three syllables should be outlawed.

– Scott Mims is the news editor for The Clanton Advertiser. His column appears each Friday. He can be reached at scott.mims@clantonadvertiser.com.