What’s in a Name?

My first name, Helyn, is a different version from my grandma’s name, Helen. My parents thought it was a beautiful name (and yes, I think it is) but it has created some irritation with me over the years. Why? Well, both ways are not pronounced the same. Ah ha! Yes, that’s the trick. You might think it’s like Helen but no. It’s actually, “Hel-lyn”, if you will. Just think of “Lynn”. Close enough.

I’m becoming more amused when I tell people my name and it takes them several times to find the right pronunciation. I still have some friends who pronounce it wrong. I’ve received all sorts of name variations from “Helain,” to “Helene” (a French version).

And then there’s the spelling of my name. I would say my name over the phone of for another person and they would stare at me with a blank stare, “Um, what?” Really, though, it’s not that hard to spell. H-E-L-Y-N. One time I had someone who put an “i” where the “y” is supposed to go. Close, but not quite.

When I’ve gone on first dates I usually ask them how to pronounce my name. I’ve become more amused with it over the years as they try to look like they know how it’s pronounced. But they usually get it wrong.

Anybody else have funky name problems? I could tell you about my long last name and the spelling of that but that might be for another post.


This was an assignment for the DS106 (Digital Storytelling) assignment in Writing. http://assignments.ds106.us/assignments/whats-in-a-name/

It is a really simple assignment that can be used in the classroom as an ice breaker for students. It’s a great way to let them write about themselves and talk about their name and the experiences they’ve had with it. As I kept writing the ideas and stories just kept flowing. This would work really well for a high school ELA classroom and would work well for a prompt to a character — the students could write about a certain character’s name and see what type of story comes from just doing that.