Me llamo Suzanne

Sometimes the phonetics in one language do not always translate accurately. Simply said, this is the case for the way my family pronouces my name. It’s really quite out of hand, although it has evolved.

My parents have always called me, “Susen” which was fine up until I started to take a hold of my identity or in other words, up until I was old enough to understand language, both Spanish and English. Sort of…

My sisters call me “Susan”, which made sense when I was younger because my parents called me “Susen.” It all got really confusing when I was about 10 years old. I was writing my name at school or maybe at ballet because we always had to sign in before a dance class. As I was writing each letter it dawned me, MY NAME IS SUZANNE, not “Susen” or “Susan.” I marched home that day and told my mom that she had been calling me the wrong name for a very long time. I said, “My name is spelled “Suzanne” not “Susen.” Being the strong-willed mother that she is, she said “I am your mother. I named you. I can say your name however I please.” Case rested.

Ok. Fine, but from that day forward any new friend or person I met I called myself “Suzanne.” So, its worked, people call me “Suzanne.” My sisters will call me Suzanne sometimes sarcastically, but mostly they still call me “Susan.”

As I learned more and more about second language acquisition or more specifically about the phonological system of Spanish I understood why my mother calls me “Susen.” The “Z” in Spanish makes the “S” sound. As far as my mother saying “SusEn,” I think it was her attempt to prnounce it they way she heard it.

So, my name has evolved. I’m even known as “Chuchen” (Ch/ch making the “Shh” sound) because when my youngest sister was barely starting to speak she she would say “Shushen” instead of “Susen.” Today as a bilingual educator to children and adults I use my name in lessons to explain the “Z” sound in English. Students usually giggle at the story I have just shared. Like I mentioned before whenever I am teaching a class I always make sure to eventually talk about how to say personal names in English and Spanish for those individuals who may not be able to pronouce a “foreign” name quite right.

I keep running into the pronunciation block when I travel abroad. Instead of teaching people how to say my name I simply change it to a name with a more international flare, like Susana! That being said,I find it interesting that people decide to call me something else anyways, probably because they know my name is not really Susana. They call me Susi or Sue, both of which really do not suit me. I guess you can say it will be a constant fixture in my life.

My children will definitely have international names!

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