February 10th, 2008


Writer's Block: Repeat After Me...

How have people pronounced your name? How is it supposed to sound?
Well, my first name is dead easy. No one gets it wrong, except possibly for recent immigrants. And no one has trouble with pronouncing my married name, which is one reason I decided to use it ("just like Fig Newton"). If my husband's name had been Geshltenfuer or something like that, I would still be Karen Wester, even though that is a last name that gets misspelled and mispronounced more than you would think for for two simple syllables.

The problem is, everyone tries to make the uncommon name Wester into something more ordinary—Webster or Western, or even Wister (author of a famous western novel, The Virginian). Back in the days when you could get on a plane without showing ID, I once flew to college as Karen Webster and flew back as Karen Wesser.

But Google has taught me that it's not good to have a dead common name (like Karen Newton, 7,320 hits) so now I always use my full name. So far as I know, I'm the only Karen Wester Newton (510 hits and they are all me).