November 19, 2009

I hate name tags. I get it. At large events it’s nice to not have to rely solely on your memory for people’s names. It’s also nice to be able to address strangers by name when you’re helping them. But my name is not the easiest to pronounce. And wearing a name tag usually invites people to attempt to pronounce it. In turn, I have to correct them – sometimes multiple times. It’s not a whole lot of fun for anyone. I usually don’t correct people I’ll only meet once.

So if you even get the pronunciation right, I’m pretty happy. I’ve recently learned that many people find the stress is also important. Sure, there’s a right way and a wrong way. I always introduce myself in the right way – stress is on the ‘Kai’ not the ‘lyn’. But personally, I probably won’t notice if you get it wrong. For some strange reason, it bothers other people a lot more than it does me.

That’s why it was always easier to just shorten it to the first syllable – ‘Kai’. I almost never introduce myself like that anymore. So people who know me from college or high school call me one thing. And everyone since college calls me another. It’s strange.



  1. Why don’t you introduce yourself as Kai anymore?

    You should be grateful though that your name has a very unique sound, so people tend to pick it up once you say it. A normal introduction for me usually goes:

    “Hi I’m Min, nice to meet you.”
    “eh.. Min”
    “Oh Min! Nice to meet you.”

    • You should say – “Like Minimum”

    • I think I’ve always introduced myself as Kailyn – unless I’m in an unusually loud place like a bar. Most of the time, it’s other people introducing me as Kai. People usually just call me Kai after they hear someone else do it.

      • Really? I new knew that, but I guess I’ve never really seen you introduce yourself before.

        Would you prefer we call you Kailyn?

  2. Kai,

    why not just write w/e you want on your name tag? I usually flip mine around and subvert it somehow. I usually do it for comic purposes, but you could do it for practical purposes. Some suggestions:

    1) If it’s a huge conference and you’ll never see these people again, change it to “Sue”
    2) if it’s important – spell it phonetically
    3) Just let them call you w/e they want

    I don’t have a particularly hard surname – Mesa. You wouldn’t believe what a hard time people have if I pronounce it correctly – Mess-uh. So I usually do it Southwest style – May-suh and about 75% of the time that works. Sometimes people like to add in a ‘z’, but I’m thinking haven’t you ever heard of the Mesa Verde? Or Black Mesa? Or mesas as rock formations? Or taken spanish 101? Surely you’ve come across it before. That’s why if it matters how it’s spelled (like when I’m talking to customer service) I always just spell it.

    Is it fair to have to hear your name mis-pronounced? No, not really, but it’s a lot less stressful for everyone. I’d only focus on correcting the people you see over and over.

    • Recently, name tags I’ve had have been pre-made, so it’s a bit hard to make modifications. And changing to a different name never works for me. I’m terrible at remembering it – I do it sometimes at coffeeshops, but then I just forget that it’s me when they call my fake name. Also, I always feel like it’s lying to people. What if I meet someone I do want to keep in touch with? That would be a bit awkward.

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