Tuesday, June 12, 2007

What is in a name . . .

One thing I have noticed about my name, Glen McKay, is that many non-English languages cannot handle it. 'Gl' is not a sound in some languages and 'McK' is a combination of letters that most languages just do not have. So what in English is a fairly simple name becomes a bit of a letter-twist to everyone else.

Case in point: Japanese. 'Gl' is not a sound in Japanese, in fact they don't have a 'L' at all. So the best Japanese could do with my name is Guren Makae (gu-ren ma-ka-ay) because if you say it fast Guren sounds similar to Glen (Grren!).

Well I've just found out that Arabic also has issues with my name. A renewal notice for my car insurance arrived at the office the other day (all my mail is sent to the office because Qatar does not have home mail delivery). The mailguy at the office didn't know what to do with it so he gave it to someone, who thought it might be for me and gave it to me, while other coworkers advised me not to open it because there was "no way that was for me". But sure enough it was. I think my name got translated to Arabic in a database then someone at the insurance company retranslated it back into English. It doesn't help that in Arabic almost every consonant has a vowel after it.

It was addressed to . . .

Ready . . .

Jaline Makay!

Just call me 'Jal' ;-)

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