I've had baby names on my mind lately, as, well, no one ever seems to be able to pronounce my daughter's name correctly.
I named my son, my daughter's older brother, Daniel. Long before I was pregnant with him, I was on an elevator in Eilat, Israel, where a quote from the Hebrew Bible - the Book of Daniel - was inscribed on the silver doors. I remember thinking that Daniel would be a strong name for a boy, and I placed it in the back of my mind. My son was a Daniel from the first second I saw him, and to this day, he'll let you know that he's Daniel and not Dan or Danny. The great thing about the name Daniel is that everyone - everywhere we go - from Brazil to Italy to Israel - everyone can pronounce and is familiar with the name Daniel.
Here's the story behind my daughter's name - the name no one can pronounce: When it came to naming our daughter, her father insisted on naming her Amalasunta , after the ancient Queen of the Visigoths . "No, nope, that won't work," I said, standing firm, "No one will ever be able to pronounce that!" And so we settled on Chiara . It means light and fair; the perfect name for our little blonde-haired, blue-eyed daughter.
Well, as it turns out, no one seems to be able to pronounce that, either.
While I was pregnant, we kept the name a secret from everyone, so it was never tested out. Of course we don't have a problem pronouncing Chiara (KEY-are-ah) - one of the more popular girls' names in Italy - and we just assumed that everyone else would be able to pronounce it fine, too.
I don't know whether to laugh or wince when, at the doctor's office, for example, the receptionist on duty calls out everything from Kiera to She-ierra to She-are-ah. I can't tell you how many times I've politely had to say, "It's Chiara - key-are-ah" - and even then, most people still don't get it.
For a brief moment in time, it crossed my mind to perhaps officially change her name to Claire - the English equivalent of Chiara. But she's already my Chiara, and her name fits her just perfectly.
Here's to hoping that our Chiara - that's key-are-ah - comes to love teaching people how to say her name, the right way.
Amy Bizzarri is a mom of two living in Logan Square. She also blogs at tiramisumom.com.
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