11 Struggles for People with Unique Names

Former USC international student Hue La discusses the challenges of having a commonly mispronounced name.

Story by: Hue La

Some 98% of the people I’ve met in the States pronounced my name incorrectly on their first try. My name, Hue, is pronounced “hu-ay,” instead of like the word “hue.” Although my name is fairly simple to pronounce, it’s still a unique and uncommon name. Therefore, I always have to repeat it multiple times whenever I introduce myself to someone and constantly correct people when they mispronounce it. No matter how many times I correct people, some still eventually give up on pronouncing it correctly and just pronounce it the way they want.

To be honest, there have been many times when I seriously considered adopting an American name such as Annie, Lily, or Hannah. It would be so much easier to introduce myself and other people might finally be able to remember my name. However, I like my name a lot and am too lazy to come up with an American name that “suits me.” My name represents who I am and my identity. It may be hard to pronounce and remember, but the name “Hue” is special and I’m proud of it. Upon reflecting on the problem of having my name frequently mispronounced, I came up with a list of 11 struggles for people with unique names:

  1. You have to repeat your name multiple times when introducing yourself to someone.
  2. People come up with variations and alternate ways to pronounce your name.
  3. You say your name or raise your hand before professors call on you during roll calls because you know they’ll have trouble saying your name.
  4. People constantly ask you for your English name.
  5. You seriously consider having an American name.
  6. Baristas and restaurant hostesses always mess up your name.
  7. Microsoft Word and autocorrect perceive your name to be a spelling mistake.
  8. You constantly have to double check how your name is spelled in official documents.
  9. You can never find any souvenir that has your name.
  10. You have to constantly explain to people the meaning and history behind your name.
  11. You get tired of telling people how to pronounce your name correctly.

Read more about the struggles of having a unique name on my blog, Study Abroad Corner.

Hue La is from Vietnam and a graduate of USC. She has over six years of study abroad experience in the US and is the founder of Study Abroad Corner, a blog that gives advice to and creates a network for international students studying in the US.