Wednesday, November 07, 2007

With an F

Are you new here? Thanks for stopping in! For an explanation of this alphabet theme, see my first NaBloPoMo post.

F is for all of the many, many (many) times in my life when I've had to say, "Stefanie. With an F. Yes. S-T-E-F-A-N-I-E. No... A-N-I-E. It's just like 'Stephanie,' but put in an F instead of a PH."

I have no idea why this baffles people so much, and yet continually it does. Veer one letter from the norm and the whole word apparently unravels in people's brains.

I really don't mind the unique spelling anymore. As a kid, it annoyed me, sure. In the mid-80s, personalized stuff was really popular, but on the spinning racks of stickers or rainbow pins or bike license plates, there was never, ever a peg for "Stefanie." Today, though, that's rarely much of a problem.

What's absurd is that my parents say they originally spelled my name this way because they thought it would be easier for me. Let's think for a second about what that means. My parents, lovely and good people though they may be, thought it would be easier for their daughter to spend her life correcting every doctor, teacher, friend, employer, etc., she ever meets than for her to learn a common but not phonetically obvious spelling of her name. Clearly they had high hopes for my intellect.

The unique spelling isn't without its advantages, however. Speaking of intellect, I will admit that at times, I've actually considered the "f" spelling a sort of screening device for potential dates. Rational or not, a guy who sees my name on screen as "Stefanie" and addresses a message back to me as such automatically starts out a few points ahead of a guy who types "Stephanie" right below my e-mail address. It's an imperfect science, of course, and I'm not saying I place full stock in the results, but an eye for detail is rarely a bad thing, right? If a man pays attention (or doesn't) to the proper spelling of my name, surely he'll pay attention (or not) to plenty of other things as well.

Being a Stefanie rather than a Stephanie has had other unexpected advantages, too. For example, at least three people who regularly read my blog likely never would have found it if not for vanity-Googling their own name one day. And while that may not always be an advantage for them, I personally am happy to have them here. Are there any other Stefs-with-an-f out there I should know about? Maybe we could start our own little online club.


Whiskeymarie said...

My "other" name (I know- surprise! My parents didn't name their darling girl after booze) can be spelled three different ways that I am aware of.

I've pretty much given up correcting people.
I'll answer to anything at this point.

Jess said...

My sister is named Alison and she gets "Allison" all the time. Also, our last name is an alternatively spelled version of a reasonably common last name, and it's a huge pain. For that reason, I sincerely want to name my child something that just does not have any alternative spellings, period. Or one that doesn't have a standard spelling that people will automatically assume is correct.

alyndabear said...

I ADORE this idea for NaBloPoMo, Stefanie.

Next year I'm stelaing it from you. ;)

(And I have to spell my name for people all the bloody time.)

nancypearlwannabe said...

I have a friend that's a Stephanie with a PH, but when you call her Stef it has to be with an F. I don't know why she made up this arbitrary rule, but I get inordinately irritable when people forget the second E in my name, so who am I to question it?

lizgwiz said...

I used to know a girl named "Fredonna." (Yeah, I know.) She went by "Phred."

My mother was so basic with the naming, there's not much chance of anyone getting it wrong. Unless you throw in my middle name, which she daringly chose to spell "Anne" instead of "Ann." (Like "Anne of Green Gables.")

3carnations said...

Great post, Stephanie! (just kidding!!!! not about the great post, but about spelling your name wrong after reading that)

I went to high school with a girl named Tania (tonya). I always thought that was an odd spelling.

Just be glad you exceeded your parents' lofty expectations and do not require all words to look like they sound. :)

L Sass said...

While, it's sort of understandable that people would default to the "ph" spelling of Stefanie, I have to say that people are just dumb about name spelling.

I have met a few Laurels, but never anyone who spells it "Laural" "Loral" "Lorel" "Laurelle," and yet I get those allllllll the time.

"It's like 'Lauren' but with an 'l' and not an 'n'"

BadgerReader said...

I'm a Nicki derived from Nicole. I have spent most of my life correcting the Nickys/Nickies/Nikkis and Nicholes that seem to be rampant.
I share the bitter memory with you of not being able to have personalized junk as a child. There have always been others throughout school, church and work that have the same name, but I always get dubbed "the weird spelling" one. As I get older, I have encountered more and more people who had parents that spelled like mine did.

Lara said...

I am laughing at 3carnations's comment right now! Ha!

I feel your pain, as Lara-without-a-u. But, really, I like not having the U. :)

Incidentally, my word verification today is "ilvythsq". I cannot help but think "I love the square" when I look at it.

Stefanie said...

WM--OK, I am hopelessly naive and gullible, because I assumed your name really was Marie. I mean, not the Whiskey part, of course, but the Marie part I didn't realize was an alias.

Jess--I think my parents had the alternate plan. Yes, they've told me that they thought the "f" spelling would be easier, but my mom also said they considered naming me Aimie or Aimee, so I think really they just wanted to be nonconventional. Oddly, my sisters both have normal, traditional spellings. Neither of their names are super common, but the spellings are totally standard.

Alyndabear--You can steal it NOW, if you'd like. You've got only a little bit of catching up to do; we're still at the beginning of the alphabet! :-)

NPW--I'm sorry, but that is just plain stupid. If your name is Stephanie, then the shortened form is Steph. She's just making the rest of us look bad, I say. ;-) Also, I don't know why anyone would call you "Nancypearlwannab"... (Heh. Kidding. I do know your real name.)

Liz--I'm going to file that under Ridiculous, too. Why wasn't she just Fred?? But then, with a name like Fredonna, I suppose you're already bucking the norm, so whatever.

3Cs--Yep. I won Poppy's Grammar and Spelling Award just to prove them wrong. :-)

L Sass--I agree; the people who are most thrown when I specify the spelling are probably the ones who couldn't spell it if it had a "ph," either.

Nicki--That version is a weird spelling? That's one of those names that I would always just clarify (much like Carrie/Cary/Kerry,Keri). There are too many options to assume any one is more common than another.

Lara--I think I like Lara better than Laura, too (no offense to the at least one Laura who I know is reading this!). :-) But then, the only Lara I ever knew before you was an incredibly spoiled and bratty girl several years behind me in school, so mainly I'm just glad you've redeemed the name for me.

Laura said...

None taken. :) I like Lara better as well, but when presented with my other option (my parents up until the day I was born were going to name me Missy. Yes, just Missy, not as short for anything. Notwithstanding the name is horrible, if you combine it with my last name it actually borders on child abuse) I'm thanking my lucky stars I got Laura.

Also, I think you know that I love Stefanie with an f. Them's good people.

VermontRockies said...


Why oh why is it that after we correct them with the F, they automatically assume every ensuing letter will ALSO be some strange variant? That's the aggravating piece to me.

I worked at a public radio station for eight years, and as of the day I left, only TWO of my coworkers consistently spelled my name correctly. A few would get it right periodically just to shock me, and then revert to wrongness. Most never caught on, even with my subtle hints like: "If you won't spell my name with a PH, I won't spell your name with a silent THBBBT."

I went through a stage in middle school where I dabbled in life as a Stephanie. The signature never felt right, though, and I got over it in a few months. Hey, I want to see another Stefanie's signature!! Would you sign and scan your first name for me?

We lived in Europe when I was very little (I was born on a Naval base in Texas but went to Montessori school and first grade in Germany), and my parents gave me the German spelling. My mom was the only one with a 'normal' spelling... my dad is Peder with a D and my sister was Kristina with a K. We even had a cat named Miau. (Which was great...there's nothing like being fourteen years old and having your parents go outside in the evening and start meowing to call in the cat. Yeah, I was cool.) Family joke was that if we had a dog it would have to be named Phydeaux.

Are you ever a Steffi, or only a Stef? I am both, but never both to one person.

Start the club, please! We will all sit around and do spelling and drink and braid each other's hair.

Poppy Cede said...

"Stefanie. With an F. Yes. S-T-E-F-A-N-I-E. No... A-N-I-E. It's just like 'Stephanie,' but put in an F instead of a PH."

Do you know how many times I have said exactly that?! Thousands by now...

steve said...

My full first name is Stephen with the dreaded PH, so I'm officially in the enemy camp, I suppose.

But I do feel your pain; I've always had to spell my last name to people and emphasize that it has no "S" on the end, as that's the more common spelling.

Anonymous said...

You know I've spoken those same words a million times.
How cliche we all are.


As an aside, no one asks explicitly how to spell my first name, and almost ALWAYS asks how to spell my last name, which happens to be an extremely common verb, similar to "Jogging", but faster. I can't help but think the person asking the question is an idiot. I've irritatedly answered "Really? You want me to spell ****ing for you?" probably a few too many times to be considered funny.

Happy F day, fellow Stefanie with an F.
(I'm the one that works at the bank)

-R- said...

I wrote an e-mail to a woman named Jesseca and correctly spelled her name, and she thanked me for the correct spelling at least 3 times. It was very odd, but I am guessing she has the same issues you do.

Your alphabet posts are so popular!

Stefanie said...

Laura--No offense to any Missys out there, but I'd definitely pick Laura over that, too. I was born two hours after St. Patrick's Day was over, and my very Irish grandfather was pushing for me to be named Patty if I'd arrived just a bit earlier. I'm pretty glad I dodged that bullet, too (again, no offense to any Pattys, of course; it's just not my favorite name).

VermontStefanie--Guess I touched a nerve, huh? Glad you could get some things off your chest. ;-) No, seriously, I figured you, Poppy, and the "Bank" Stefanie would all relate. Let's say this post was for the three of you.

I can probably do the signature thing for you... as long as you're not going to use it for nefarious purposes... And that bit about "Phydeaux" cracks me up. Oh, unnecessary re-spellings. In things like "Kwik Trip" or "Playskool," it annoys me, but from possibly overeducated pet-namers? Hilarious.

Oh, and to answer that last question, I am Stefanie or Stef, NEVER Steffie. My family are the only ones who've ever called me that, and only my dad can still get away with it today.

Poppy--Refer to my comment to VermontStefanie about how I KNEW you guys would relate to that part. :-)

Steve--It's not about enemies; it's just about people not understanding how to spell! And now I'm wondering what your last name is... My guess is Meyer.

The one that works at the bank--Again, this post was for you (and the other Stefs-with-an-F, too, of course). :-)

R--See? You are OBSERVANT! If you were a boy sending me emails, I would totally go out with you. ;-)

Pam said...

I work with a girl named "Stephany". I bet you two could spend days sharing stories.

Noelle said...

I'm in a facebook group called "people who always have to spell their names for other people." It has made me determined to have a child and name that child something that can only be spelled one way. I don't think it's possible, however.

Stefanie said...

Pam--Well, maybe not days...

Noelle--That first sentence may be the nerdiest thing you've ever admitted. Oh, who am I kidding; no it's not. It is pretty dang funny, though (says the woman who's never even seen what Facebook looks like and therefore clearly is in no place to judge).

metalia said...

Oh, you don;t even KNOW how many conversations I have each day wherein I spell, respell and then over-enunciate my name. It's fun. Really. I TOTALLY feel your pain. :)

Stacie said...

While I'm not another Stefanie (although I was friends with one in high school), I understand exactly what you are saying. I have had to correct the spelling of my name to just about everyone I have ever met, including aunts and uncles!!