When no one can pronounce your child’s name

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 fatherinsisted on naming herAmalasunta ,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 onChiara . 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 fromKiera toShe-ierra toShe-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 toClaire – 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’skey-are-ah – comes to love teaching people how to say her name, the right way.

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