We need to come to some kind of agreement on how to spell names

12 Nov

Have you ever met someone named Brian? Are you sure it wasn’t Bryan? What about Derek? Sure it wasn’t Derrick? I don’t know how it started or where, but we have an epidemic in America. It’s been a problem my whole life, but it seems like it’s getting worse. We have lots of names. There are correct ways to spell these names and there are incorrect ways. It seems like people are disagreeing more and more about which spelling is correct. Luckily this hasn’t been as big a problem for me as it is for some. But it’s still a problem. My name is Matthew. You might not believe me, you might find it ludicrous, but there are people in America named Mathew. Honest to God MATHEW. What’s wrong with people?

It seems like this is a worse problem for girls than for boys. I don’t know why that is, but things are seriously getting out of control. I’ve known Lindsays and Lindseys. Kristens and Kristins. Alyssas and Alissas. Rebeccas and Rebekahs. Sarahs and Saras. I’ve known Catherines, Katherines, and Kathryns. Caties, Katies, and Katys. Nichole. Karyn. Rachael. Lea. This needs to stop.

It’s not just inconvenient. This is a serious problem, and not just for people who suffer in silence with disputed names. Think of all the time and resources that are wasted on misspelled names on official forms and certificates. Students constantly correcting substitute teachers. Celebrities unintentionally mistakenly addressing autographs to fans. We’re better than that. We can solve this problem and lead America into a new golden age.

Luckily for you, dear reader, I’ve decided to take a leadership role in addressing this crisis. I’m proud to announce, right here on TPY, my new organization: The International Society for the Standardization of the Spelling of Names (ISSSN). We’re fighting an uphill battle and the work will be hard. There might be disagreements. People might get offended. This is a burden that the Society is willing to bear. It will take courage for us to shoulder this weight. This courage is what America requires of its leaders. And here at the Society we have nothing if not courage. I know that we can prevail.

We won’t be afraid to ask the hard questions: How many L’s are there in Phil(l)ip? If your name is Marcus, is it acceptable to shorten it to Marc, or must you use Mark? If you’re a prominent sports broadcaster, should you be obligated to change your name from Cris to Chris? (Speaking of which, I can confirm the existence of men named Kris, Krys, and Khrys. Terrifying.) We won’t be afraid to ask, and we won’t be afraid to give you the answers. This will be a valuable resource for America’s parents.

I’m not wasting any time. Let’s get right to the rulings.

KRISTIN. Sorry Kristens. I’ve known and liked Kristens. Even a Krysten once. But your names are spelled wrong. Kristin is a Norwegian name derived from the correctly-spelled name Christina. Kristen is a name for Danish men, not American women. Being in a different country doesn’t allow you to use it for girls.* Kristin has been the standard spelling for eight centuries. Changing the I to an E doesn’t change the name’s pronunciation, it just makes it look different. Kristin’s not good enough for you? You need to be different? Get over yourself.

*This is a separate but related issue. I’ll get to you in due time, Mischas and Sashas.


DEREK. Derek comes from the low German Theodoric. Theodoric>Dederik>Derek. It’s related to Dietrich and Dirk. A derrick is an apparatus for oil drilling. It’s named after Thomas Derrick.* Read about him and decide if you want to name your son after him.

*Derrick is an acceptable surname

Nice try

ALAN. Sorry Allens and Allans. Alan is a first name, with a history of many centuries in France and England. Allen is a surname. Allan is some kind of combination of the two. This seems like a common trend–a surname that works its way into first name rotation. Now there’s bound to be some overlap and I’m not opposed to it. But don’t give your son an alternate name spelling to match a last name somewhere. Come on. If you want to name your son Robinson or Jones good for you. Unless you’re thinking about Robbinson or Jonze. Then you’ll need to shut it down.

Not even allowed in poetry

That’s it for today. A decent start. Don’t worry, there will be more rulings to come. For Society membership information, please inquire in the comments.

3 Responses to “We need to come to some kind of agreement on how to spell names”

  1. Vito November 19, 2012 at 7:37 am #

    Brilliant, where do i find the documentation on how to join this society. I’ve been waiting for years to find an organization with the courage to take up this fight.


  1. The International Society for the Standardization of the Spelling of Names rulings 12/13/12 « The Pensive Years - December 13, 2012

    […] bet you loyal readers thought that this was some one-off gimmick and I’d just forget about it. Absolutely not. We’re doing important […]

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