Tag Archives: Mispronunciation

“Pashwa’s” Name

A quick post for a Friday afternoon…

Names… as the Christmas cards are coming in this year, I realized that everyone in my family has finally starting to spell P’s name consistently correct after more than 6 years. He used to get all sorts of variations, often with “Os” and “Zs” and “Ss” and “Hs” included (letters that he doesn’t have in his name at all!) For example, my dad used to write his name as “Pazz” for several years, while one of my favorite variations is “Pashwa” which my Grandmother still kinda calls him, along with my little cousins who honestly think this is his name due to her mispronunciation. It’s kind of cute and endearing, even if it isn’t correct. I always get a smile when I hear my Grandmother ask, “How’s Pashwa doing?”

The uniqueness of P’s name (in my culture) has helped to keep him a memorable character in the minds of my little cousins. Several are still at an age where it is challenging for them to remember the names of people they don’t see everyday. At Thanksgiving I was christened “Aunt Eileen” (wha?) since the little guy couldn’t initially remember my real name, but “Pashwa” they remember right away. They all want to sit next to him, hold his hand, chat with him (he even had to escort one to the bathroom at a restaurant!) When he walks in a room you can hear little kids yell “Pashwa!” while they run over to greet him.

I mentioned before that it took me a while to remember P’s real name. The first week or two I knew him I thought his name was Parajuli (another friend’s last name that is similar sounding). This was just the first in a long line of my family members butchering his name. Luckily he has an easily pronounceable last name, or my family would have been doomed to mispronouncing it forever.

But one of the funniest stories about his name comes from one of his initial conversations with my mother. It was around the same time he had the Christmas in Nepal conversation with her. We shared a ride home from school and he planned to stay a night with my family and meet them before we dropped him at the local airport for traveling home to Nepal. I had talked to my mother about him before, and she had seen his name written out but it didn’t register with her. It went something like this:

Mom: “Does your name translate into something in English?”

P: [honestly ponders this question for a few minutes…] “Well, I guess you could say light or maybe bright light.

Mom: [looks a bit puzzled, this was not the way she expected him to answer the question. The look on her face was absolutely priceless. She was thinking something like Pierre is the French form of Patrick, and P is the Nepali version of Peter] “Huh? Light? I was thinking Peter or Paul or something like that. Don’t you have an English name?”

P: “No, I guess I’m just P_______ or you can call me P__ for short.”

Poor guy.

I have one of those names as well, which is easily mispronounced by people unfamiliar with it. The mispronunciation isn’t as drastic as P’s but it still happens. I guess it runs in the family now. Just wait until we have hypothetical kids.