The Disgruntled Kat (kat144) wrote in etiquetteworld,
The Disgruntled Kat

Name-correcting etiquette?

I don't think I have posted about this here before...

Anyway, I'm wondering about the etiquette of correcting people on use of my name and what's the best way to go about it without sounding like a jerk.

Backstory: the name given to me at birth was Katie. I have not allowed anyone to call me Katie since second grade when I started going by Kate (and later to friends, I picked up Kat as well). That is how long I have hated being called Katie. I don't mind it as a name on other people, but hearing it used in reference to me is like nails on a chalkboard to me. No, I don't know why. In part I guess I associate it with being a little kid, or being a little kid's name (even though I've known of countless older Katies) and I guess in part when I hear it it makes me feel like I'm being addressed as a four-year-old. Anyway, reasons aside: I cannot stand it.

After wanting to for years and not being able to for various reasons, I finally went to court and got it legally changed a few months ago, to Katharine (so you can see how much I truly hated Katie if I was willing to spend a couple hundred bucks and jump through hoops of changing my name with work, vendors, banks, etc. all over the place just to make a marginal change to my name). I wanted to do it legally for a few reasons...I didn't want to just USE Katharine because I could not do so legally as it wasn't technically my name and as soon as people found that out they'd probably refuse to use it, and because I always found that while I could tell people my name was Kate until I was blue in the face, as soon as they saw any of my legal paperwork where I had to use my full legal name (work documents, driver's license, credit cards, etc.) I often immediately became Katie (I finally got the people at work to change my display name for my email to come up as Kate instead of Katie because despite the fact that my email signature and stuff said Kate, they'd still write back and call me Katie because it was on my email). It is hard to shake (probably because people always had a hard time grasping that Katie wasn't SHORT for anything but was my full name, so they probably assumed it was a name I chose as a nickname rather than was stuck with as a legal name). I mean, we're talking, people who never were introduced to me as Katie (like coworkers who never saw my legal paperwork) would call me Katie sometimes and I don't know where they got it, people would call me Kate for months or years and then suddenly they'd start calling me came out of the woodwork sometimes.

(I am still allowing people to call me Kate and they had the choice of switching to Katharine if they wanted to); that doesn't bug me

I've struggled for years with correcting people to not call me Katie, as I've never known how to do it without sounding snappish or like I'm making a big deal out of nothing (I have a feeling most people would say, "Katharine, Kate, Katie, Kat, it's all the same name, what's the big deal?").

How do I do this without coming across as a jerk? Especially in passing, if someone says "oh, hi Katie" or "so I was telling Katie the other day that..." or if someone emails me and uses the wrong name? The other day I did it by email and I felt like a jerk and a freak the whole time I was correcting this person--it was someone I don't even know (a coworker of mine is on a temporary assignment out of the country so our group wanted to send her a care package for Christmas, and I asked her partner over there for help in figuring out what we should send her, and when he wrote me back, he addressed me as Katie). I just said something like "please call me Katharine or Kate; I really hate the name Katie," but I have a feeling he got it both from his secretary (who I'd emailed before and in another email she called me Katie for some reason) and from my coworker (who recently sent me postcards addressed to Katie and again, I have no idea why). I mean, if someone's just walking by, or it's the middle of a conversation, should I really pipe up and say, "actually, it's Katharine or Kate"? I feel like "please call me X" is one of those lines for when you're just meeting someone, not something you should interrupt a conversation for?

I am stumped on this, but I'm even more determined not to be called Katie now that I have no legal ties to that name. I know it's stupid to get so worked up just about a name, but honestly it really does set my teeth on edge every time I hear it, and I don't know how to get that across to people without also coming across as a weirdo with a hangup...

(Granted, I know name weirdness must be common--I got an email from someone in another office today addressing me as Kathy, which is TOTALLY out of left field because I have never been called Kathy in any way, shape, or form EVER--in fact, I got stuck with Katie rather than Catherine BECAUSE my mom despises the nickname Cathy/Kathy and wanted to make sure I never got called that, lol.)
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Well, I can suggest that, since you do sometimes use the name Katharine, that you start writing that as your "official name" when necessary. This is, surprisingly to some, perfectly legal so long as you're not attempting to defraud anybody.

Otherwise, so long as you don't make a big deal about it, I don't see how it's rude to say "I'm sorry, I know it seems unimportant but I really prefer to be called Kate instead of Katie". But you should probably handle that privately when possible instead of publicly - take whoever it is aside and tell them.

Or you can be all humorous about it. "I was telling Katie the other day..." "Oh, who's Katie? Does she work here...?" "You!" "I'm not Katie :) I'm Kate!"
LOL, I thought about doing that, "I'm sorry, there's no one by that name here..."

Do you think it's kosher to correct later if need be, then, if I don't want to bring it up right then? "Hey, I noticed you called me Katie earlier, and I really would rather you didn't." That was another of my fears, that if I didn't correct it on the spot--and again, I was not always sure I was in a situation where it was okay to blurt out--that it would seem even more weird to appear to still be brooding on it hours or days later! You know, a "you really bothered to come find me and pull me aside later for THAT?" thing)

People closer to me, like regular coworkers, are generally aware that they call me Katie upon pain of death, but I can't be quite so familiar with people I'm not so close to!
I'm not always so good with the social situations, but I think if you have to correct somebody it's generally best to do so in private so you don't make a scene. And you do have a right to be called by your chosen name.
I'm a Catharine. Having changed my name from Carolyn--pronounced by most numskulls as Caroline--and I HATE HATE HATE the nickname Cathy, (I'm Cat to some and have yet to be called Catie or Cate,) I totally know where you're coming from.

If I'm first meeting or talking to someone, I always correct them, whether I sound rude or not. (All I do is say my preferred name after each time the wrong name is said; I'd rather not interrupt people but sometimes the detour on their train of thought helps them remember.) If it's an acquaintance I've known for awhile, then it's someone who just couldn't get it through their head. I generally correct themselves under my breath when they've gone, because I've just given up on them. If it's someone like a friend or especially a family member, I apologize for putting them on the spot and say that I understand if it takes them some getting used to, but I'd really prefer to be called by my preferred name.
Urgh. My daughter's name is Caroline (rhymes with "spine") and I am constantly having to correct lazy-mouths who call her Carolyn. I take the same approach as you do.
Haha, y'know, it's funny, but it always bugged me on the Little House On The Prairie TV show that Pa called Ma "Carolyn"...because in the books, it's quite clear her name is CaroLINE...unless there was some sort of alternate pronunciation back then where the "line" WAS pronounce like "lyn" (well, kinda like the "rine" in Katharine is pronounced "ryn," I guess).

(I AM having trouble with the spelling since I have the KathArine instead of KathErine--which actually is also the way Katharine Hepburn spelled it, so I'm in good company--but I can't say I care how they spell it as long as they CALL me that! Went to get my oil changed today and found they'd spelled it "Kathren." I'm pretty sure I actually spelled it for them over the phone, too, but, well, whatever floats their boat.
I think the worst spelling I've gotten was Caterhin. It was pretty impressive.
I would think the only acceptable deviation in pronunciation of Caroline would be to rhyme it with "spleen" since it is obviously a name with a French. One of her aunts calls her "Ma petite Caroline" and that's totally OK with us.

Katherine/Katharine/Catherine/Kathryn is one of those names that I can't ever even take a stab at spelling and just ask the owner because there are so many different "correct" ways to spell it that sound the same.
Except that Carolyn isn't a separate name, it's an alternate spelling of Caroline that obviously cropped up as a way to make the ordinary name with the typical pronunciation look a little different, like choosing to spell Lizzy Lizzie instead.

You can tell because Caroline is clearly developed from Carolinnus, which of course does not have an "eye" sound in it at all. And because the "short i" sound is phonetically very similar to the "long e" sound - you can see how close they are on any vowel map.

Of course, contrary to what your second grade teacher may have tried to tell you, speech is primary and writing is secondary. Considering the sort of mess English orthography is and has been, expecting things like names to make sense is probably asking too much.
Uh-huh. Do you say "Katherine" to rhyme with "line" as well?

Caroline has multiple pronunciations. The alternate spelling Carolyn indicates that Caroline (the traditional spelling) often is pronounced with a "short i".


7 years ago

They're not lazy. They're more familiar with the "in" pronunciation of the name Caroline and either they read it that way out of habit or they simply forget.

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I usually just explain that I hate it so they get the idea that it is NOT okay to call me Katie, rather than just thinking it's some whim of mine, and also so they understand there's a concrete reason, rather than "yeah, I just felt like being called something else today" or so they understand I'm not nitpicking on something that is just a small deal to me...
My parents named me Alex. I tell people that it's short for Alexander. :P
"I actually go by Katherine these days. No one has called me Katie for a very long time."

or even just, "It's 'Katherine'."

No need to express how much you hate the name, as that can antagonize well-meaning people, just say that you prefer to be called Katherine. If an individual (it's important not to hold the collective inconsideration of society against the individual) continues to call you Katie, however, you're well within reason to be more insistent: "Please, my name is Katherine. I really don't care to be called Katie."

I can't really relate directly, as my name is unmistakable and doesn't lend itself to casual nicknames, but you have every right to define yourself, and it's not like you're asking a lot for people to remember the name Katherine. A propos of names, though, I have an uncle whose legal name is Ricky; he goes by Rick, naturally.