The Boy Who Could Not Say His Own Name
It seemed like such a good idea at the time: give our baby boy a special name that would connect him to my husband. We didn’t want to give him the exact same name, so instead we gave Monkey the same middle name as my husband. It is one of my favorite names in Spanish, and having the same middle name as his father is like a hidden treasure wrapped up inside him.
Except that Monkey can’t pronounce it. Not really.
Lately, Monkey has been very interested in learning everyone’s names. I think every child thrills at discovering that his parents are not just “Mommy” and “Daddy” but have names, and he gets a kick out of hearing anyone call us by them.
So we have been talking more about names in general, including his full name, which he had always heard but never really tried to say.
As I have discussed previously, Monkey prefers to speak English, although more and more he is asking my husband how to say things in Spanish, and when they spend time together without me, he is more likely to reply to my husband in Spanish.
Yet still, Monkey has told me several times recently that Spanish is what Daddy speaks, while he and Mommy and Baby speak English. (Keeping in mind, of course, that Baby doesn’t actually speak yet 😉 ).
It is clear that Monkey understands everything said to him in Spanish, and he often does nearly instantaneous translations of what my husband says. But because Monkey doesn’t speak Spanish much, when he does, it’s with a bit of an accent.
And so, like many English speakers, he has trouble with those infamous Spanish r’s: the rolled ones, of course, are the biggest problem. For Monkey they tend to come out more like l’s, so “carro” (car) becomes something like “cahlo.”
But even the single r’s are troublesome, since in Spanish they are flipped. The closest equivalent we have in English is the “d” sound in “Eddie.” These aren’t quite as difficult as the rolled r’s, but still they aren’t easy. Monkey sometimes pronounces them like an “l,” or sometimes in a consonant cluster the “r” becomes more like a “w,” as in “tres,” which he says more like “twes.” (“Cuatro” becomes “cwat-lo.”)
As you might have guessed with all the build up, there is a flipped “r” in Monkey’s middle name, and so he has trouble saying it.
In fairness, he can’t really pronounce my name either, and it’s in English. Lots of little kids have trouble with my name, I think because of the double vowel sound. They usually try to resolve it into a single vowel sound (Monkey says “Lana” instead of “Leanna”), or they add an extra consonant so that the “e” and “a” aren’t together anymore (as in “Lee-lana” or “Lee-nana”).
So how much does it really matter? Monkey is only three, and there are many words in English that he still pronounces in that adorable little boy accent (“yellow” becomes “hello” and “helicopter” becomes “dacocter”). Still, when someone can’t pronounce his own name, it raises questions about why the parents gave the poor child such a difficult name.
But I am hoping that as Monkey grows he will come to appreciate his beautiful middle name, and that it will become a hidden treasure, wrapped up inside him, a symbol of his heritage and a tie to his father and his father’s homeland. A treasure that, hopefully, he will one day be able to pronounce.
This post has been shared at Best4Future’s Wednesday link-up party.