28 November, 2012

When am I called "Wen"?

Today I went back to the hospital I went to last week (wrote about it here) for test results. In Australia they'd phone you, or maybe only phone you if there was a problem with a routine test. But, it seems, I needed to go back and get the results myself. As it was, it took longer to register at the front desk than it took in the doctor's office. I didn't even sit down, I was in and out so fast! I'm glad that I only had a 20 min bike ride to get there. If I'd sat on a train or in traffic for an hour, I would have been a bit annoyed.

After my struggle with one staff member last week, I was pleased to find a person in accounts who could see the funny side of things. She apologised with a smile in her voice as she gave me this invoice:

One problem with a Western name is that they sometimes don't fit on computer generated forms such as this. Most Japanese have between three and five characters in their names.

It is interesting that some places they use your actual romanised name. But more often they used our Japanese-spelt name (as in the second photo).

That shortens my name slightly. Marshall becomes five characters. Wendy is the same length, though. So sometimes they can't even fit my Japanese-spelt name into their computers, especially if they decided to add my middle name, even though it is short.

We have a colleague in Hokkaido who has more than one middle name, plus a long hyphenated surname. His name never fits and is downright annoying when filling out forms.

I remember being annoyed that I had to learn a new way to write my name, but even more annoyed that I had to pronounce my name differently for Japanese people to understand it. I didn't expect that when I came to Japan.

It didn't take too long for that to just become normal, however. So I'll answer to "Maashaaru" just as easily as "Marshall" nowadays.

Interestingly my first name, though they don't have a "W", sounds pretty similar in Japanese. I'm thankful for that. It is written phonetically as "Uendi".


KarenKTeachCamb said...

Now you've got me wondering. I wonder what my name would look like if written using Khmer script. Most Khmer people I know seem to be able to pronounce it OK, although I wonder how I'd go in Japan. I'm glad though that my name is Vickie or Veronica, because I suspect it would be Wickie or Weronica. I've lost count of the number of times I hear verbs called werbs!

Janet Camilleri said...

What would Janet sound like in Japanese I wonder???

Wendy said...

Janet, it would sound approximately like this: Janetto (with a gottal stop at the ts).

Karen, we had to know our names in Japanese from the start so that we could open a bank account etc. It is only in recent years that more English alphabet is coming in.