Is Your Name Erin?
November 8, 2014 8:33 AM   Subscribe

11 Struggles Only People Named Erin Understand is a Buzzfeed listicle written by an Erin which has become extraordinary thanks to the Facebook comments section which is almost exclusively filled with other Erins of various spellings sharing their experiences. Like watching Too Many Cooks develop in real time.
posted by feelinglistless (109 comments total) 12 users marked this as a favorite
 
Evidently having a friend named "Erin" gives you the superpower to distinguish between "Erin" and "Aaron".

sends this story to the Erin she knows
posted by egypturnash at 8:41 AM on November 8, 2014 [4 favorites]


I think the Erin/Aaron pronunciation thing is regional. I can do it now, when I'm paying attention, but only because my college roommate spent MONTHS teaching me the difference between Tara and Tera (her name). I still generally feel overly precious making the distinction.
posted by jaguar at 8:48 AM on November 8, 2014 [3 favorites]


I know a Kerry, a Cari, a Carrie and even a KeRi. Erins have it easy.
posted by jeff-o-matic at 8:49 AM on November 8, 2014 [7 favorites]


This struggle is real, believe me.
posted by azpenguin at 8:51 AM on November 8, 2014


The comments are a thing of beauty. Get out of there, Nancy. You're ruining it.
posted by figurant at 8:51 AM on November 8, 2014 [3 favorites]


I like to tell people that I can hear the difference between Stephen and Steven. This makes some gullible people really uncomfortable about the 'fact' that they have been saying one of them wrong for their entire lives. Then everyone just calls me Steve.
posted by srboisvert at 8:57 AM on November 8, 2014 [30 favorites]


My Irish (from Dublin) ex always found the idea of Erin as a personal name amusing; according to her, it's the sort of name one has to be American, or at least definitely not from Ireland, to wear.
posted by acb at 8:57 AM on November 8, 2014 [3 favorites]


Is being able to hear the difference between Erin and Aaron related to being able to hear the difference between Mary, merry and marry? Because neither of those give me any trouble.

I've spent a lot of time in Ireland, and Irish people used to mock the names Erin and (especially) Colleen, because they're popular Irish-American names that aren't common at all in Ireland. (And Colleen means girl, which is sort of a strange thing to name your daughter.) But now I'm over it, and I think Erin is a fine name. In general, I would say that I have liked most of the Erins I have met.
posted by ArbitraryAndCapricious at 8:57 AM on November 8, 2014 [1 favorite]


I am an Erin, and seriously, none of this has ever happened to me (except for the first, since I work in a cube right next to a guy named Aaron). But, I also admit to being confused by people named Erin who *aren't* Irish-American -- like, why would your parents give you that name if you weren't?
posted by heurtebise at 8:59 AM on November 8, 2014 [1 favorite]


"Erin" and "Aaron" are very different sounds to an Irish person, corresponding as they might to "Éirinn" and "Aran", two very different words. I'm trying to do accents in my head that make them sound similar.

I would pronounce "Erin" in my head as something like "air-in", with a somewhat flatter, elongated first syllable, as its original form would be spoken in Irish. Which is probably different to how someone from the States named "Erin" might think their name is pronounced. But I would never suggest to anyone, of course, that they don't know how to pronounce their own name. I would just think it, keeping quiet.
posted by distorte at 8:59 AM on November 8, 2014 [3 favorites]


a Buzzfeed listicle written by an Erin which has become extraordinary thanks to the Facebook comments section...

thus giving a neat example of everything that's wrong with what's happened to the world wide web.
posted by ennui.bz at 9:01 AM on November 8, 2014 [4 favorites]


Like watching Too Many Cooks develop in real time.

I mean, hopefully it doesn't wind up too much like Too Many Cooks.
posted by Itaxpica at 9:01 AM on November 8, 2014 [9 favorites]


But, I also admit to being confused by people named Erin who *aren't* Irish-American -- like, why would your parents give you that name if you weren't?
Well, most people who name their kids Brittany aren't attached to their French roots. Most people who name their kids Savannah aren't from Georgia or a grassy plane in a subtropical region. Most people who name their kids Brooklyn aren't from Brooklyn, etc., etc., etc. I think some people just think it's a pretty name.
posted by ArbitraryAndCapricious at 9:04 AM on November 8, 2014 [9 favorites]


Used to date an Erin (I'm an Eric), and when we would both meet someone for the first time, it was not uncommon to be asked, "Did you do that on purpose? With your names?"

People are dumb when it comes to names.
posted by elr at 9:04 AM on November 8, 2014 [14 favorites]


I want it to end up exactly like Too Many Cooks.
posted by dortmunder at 9:04 AM on November 8, 2014


My eyes must not be focussing this morning because I would swear all those reposts said "It Struggles Only People Named Erin U..." again and again.
posted by Catblack at 9:04 AM on November 8, 2014


Also, the adjective erinacious means having the qualities of a hedgehog.
posted by acb at 9:06 AM on November 8, 2014 [29 favorites]


And Colleen means girl, which is sort of a strange thing to name your daughter.

Just about every name means something. Except for etymologists and people who write baby name books, most people do not get distracted by a name's literal meaning. The only Colleen I know is involved with a fellow named David, and I do not really think of them as "Beloved" and "Girl." That being said, it might be fun to think of the Beatles as God-is-Gracious, Humble, Farmer, and Ringo.
posted by ricochet biscuit at 9:07 AM on November 8, 2014 [57 favorites]


Also, the adjective erinacious means having the qualities of a hedgehog.

Spiny? Nocturnal? Insectivorous? Prone to projectile defecation?
posted by ricochet biscuit at 9:10 AM on November 8, 2014 [7 favorites]


Is being able to hear the difference between Erin and Aaron related to being able to hear the difference between Mary, merry and marry? Because neither of those give me any trouble.

I'm assuming so, because all of those words/names have pretty much the exact same vowel sound in my idiolect.
posted by jaguar at 9:14 AM on November 8, 2014 [1 favorite]


And Colleen means girl, which is sort of a strange thing to name your daughter.
Just about every name means something. Except for etymologists and people who write baby name books, most people do not get distracted by a name's literal meaning.

I think the difference in this case is that Irish people know that cailín means "girl", so when you say "Colleen" we hear "girl", and would not be very used to hearing it as a name. The same way a French person might double-take if you called your son "Garçon".
posted by distorte at 9:15 AM on November 8, 2014 [13 favorites]


I am an Erin, and seriously, none of this has ever happened to me (except for the first, since I work in a cube right next to a guy named Aaron). But, I also admit to being confused by people named Erin who *aren't* Irish-American -- like, why would your parents give you that name if you weren't?

Because it's a nice name? (And because it was c.1980, and it was a given that any girl not named Jennifer had to be named Erin?)

I knew a guy in high school named Erin with an E. He was born in England, which we took as a satisfactory explanation, but in retrospect, no, it totally isn't at all. Luckily, this was in Nova Scotia, where boys named Shannon and Ashley are not unusual.

And, finally, no, I don't pronounce Aaron and Erin differently, because I have a central Canadian accent and that's just how it works. (Erin might be slightly raised, but not much.) Tough shit, Aaron.
posted by Sys Rq at 9:19 AM on November 8, 2014 [1 favorite]


I want it to end up exactly like Too Many Cooks.

I was really disappointed that it didn't. It stops like a minute and a half into Too Many Cooks.
posted by chrominance at 9:21 AM on November 8, 2014


Perhaps it's because I was raised Catholic, but Erin = totally ordinary 70s and 80s name, right in line with Michelle/Jennifer/Scott/Ross/etc. and not a place name. On the other hand, using something like India or Asia for a girl's name is deeply weird to me.
posted by Flannery Culp at 9:22 AM on November 8, 2014 [3 favorites]


If I say the first syllable of the words "error" and "arrow", can you hear the difference?
posted by Hatashran at 9:23 AM on November 8, 2014 [11 favorites]


If people can fuck up Chris, they can fuck up anything, and people fuck up Chris all the time. Erins are nothing special (except my daughter Erin Anne who is the best goddam Erin of ALL TIME) when it comes to having shit fucked up.

Add to the fact that i'm actually a Christophe and not a Christopher (thanks, mom!) and it will get fucked up 100% of the time. Had a teacher ask me once "Is it really Chris-tu-FEE, or did they forget the R?"

I'm awful glad I don't get etymology lessons all the time though, because it ain't my Christ to bear.
posted by Devils Rancher at 9:25 AM on November 8, 2014 [7 favorites]


Is being able to hear the difference between Erin and Aaron related to being able to hear the difference between Mary, merry and marry?

Yes, it's a vowel merger common to most of the US outside the Northeast.

My new utopian fantasy is a Buzzfeed that even gave enough of a shit to add a footnote to Wikipedia
posted by RogerB at 9:27 AM on November 8, 2014 [4 favorites]


I was in a class of about 15 once which had an Elissa, Elisha, and an Alicia. No Alyssa though.
posted by Bwithh at 9:28 AM on November 8, 2014


Other sucky things about being named Erin: no nicknames at the ready, and there's a birth control pill called "Errin."

(My name is not Erin. I do have a name with a listicle's worth of drawbacks, though.)
posted by Metroid Baby at 9:29 AM on November 8, 2014


But, I also admit to being confused by people named Erin who *aren't* Irish-American -- like, why would your parents give you that name if you weren't?

Doesn't seem any weirder than naming your son Joshua even though you don't believe Yahweh is salvation, or Jacob even though he doesn't show any tendency towards grabbing heels, or Hunter even though he earns his living as a writer, or Jefferson even though he isn't Jeffrey's son, or Roosevelt even though he is neither Dutch nor a field of roses.
posted by ROU_Xenophobe at 9:30 AM on November 8, 2014 [3 favorites]


Um, hello? "ALASDAIR"?

(sings Paul Simon)
posted by alasdair at 9:33 AM on November 8, 2014


The Erin/Aaron mix-up could be avoided if we all start pronouncing Aaron as A-aron.
posted by cazoo at 9:36 AM on November 8, 2014 [12 favorites]


At least Erin is not a euphemism for a body part or vulgar activity....
posted by GenjiandProust at 9:36 AM on November 8, 2014


Is being able to hear the difference between Erin and Aaron related to being able to hear the difference between Mary, merry and marry? Because neither of those give me any trouble.

For people who make the distinction, Erin has the vowel in "merry" (the DRESS vowel) and Aaron has the vowel in "marry" (the BATH vowel). But yeah, in most parts of the US people don't distinguish those vowels before an R, or only distinguish them in that context when they're speaking very carefully or precisely.

Whether you can hear the distinction depends on (a) whether you can produce it (without training, people tend not to be able to hear distinctions they don't produce) and (b) whether the person you're listening to produces it.
posted by nebulawindphone at 9:37 AM on November 8, 2014 [1 favorite]


Perhaps it's because I was raised Catholic, but Erin = totally ordinary 70s and 80s name, right in line with Michelle/Jennifer/Scott/Ross/etc. and not a place name.

That's interesting, because the reason it formerly wasn't used in Ireland was because of Catholic doctrine. When I was a child, it was the norm that children could only be christened in the Catholic church using a saint's name, and the idea of christening a child with one name and registering it legally with another didn't seem to occur to anyone. There are lots of really obscure old Irish saints' names, but I never heard of any saint Erin. So we classed Erin with Colleen, Shannon, and Kerry as names which had Irish associations but weren't in common use in Ireland for people.

I'm not sure whether the church rules changed, or whether people started ignoring them, but Erin and Kerry are both quite common now in Ireland. Colleen, as mentioned above, isn't, since children are still taught Irish in school and calling a girl Girl puts most people's teeth on edge.
posted by Azara at 9:39 AM on November 8, 2014 [1 favorite]


he same way a French person might double-take if you called your son "Garçon".

But "Guy" is an actual name in French, so they have no room to talk.
posted by Pogo_Fuzzybutt at 9:40 AM on November 8, 2014 [16 favorites]


It's probably not so much that they were Catholic as that they were of the "Americans deeply into their Irish heritage, no matter how slight or distant" type. You know, the ones who keep those "Erin Go Bragh" stores in business and cover themselves in green once a year and have the Irish flag license plate frame on their car, even if their connection to Ireland is four generations back on one side.
posted by Flannery Culp at 9:46 AM on November 8, 2014 [2 favorites]


For people who make the distinction [...] Aaron has the vowel in "marry" (the BATH vowel).

Not that it matters much at all, but there are in fact New York dialects in which the vowel in "Aaron"/"marry" is distinct from the one in "bath" too (I know because I speak one). This doesn't seem to be widely shared even among New Yorkers, in fact to my ear it sounds a bit like a marker of Queens/Long Island, but I've noticed it in some people's Pennsylvania and Boston dialect as well.
posted by RogerB at 9:52 AM on November 8, 2014 [1 favorite]


I am reconciled to being named the Irish equivalent of Vinnie or Tony. At least I don't have to spend my life explaining that io is pronounced sh or mh/bh, v.
posted by Diablevert at 9:58 AM on November 8, 2014


Now I have semantic satiation for the name Erin and think it is a totally bullshit name.
posted by ernielundquist at 10:00 AM on November 8, 2014


It's probably not so much that they were Catholic as that they were of the "Americans deeply into their Irish heritage, no matter how slight or distant" type.

I don't know if it's even that; cf. Tyrone.
posted by Sys Rq at 10:00 AM on November 8, 2014 [2 favorites]


It is way too early and not really apt to compare this to Too Many Cooks, or to say anything is like Too Many Cooks developing in real time. Though I guess saying something clickbaity is fitting for a buzzfeed listicle.
posted by Catblack at 10:06 AM on November 8, 2014 [2 favorites]


I always wondered why Tyrone was a popular boy's name in America. It's the name of a county, but I've never heard of an Armagh or Fermanagh.

I was surprised there would be any confusion over the pronunciation of Erin as I assumed it was a popular and straightforward name, (though I also hadnt realised some dialects don't distinguish between the vowel sounds in Mary, merry or marry). Try explaining "Róisín" to non-Irish people for a few decades and get back to me...
posted by billiebee at 10:13 AM on November 8, 2014 [3 favorites]


I like to tell people that I can hear the difference between Stephen and Steven. This makes some gullible people really uncomfortable about the 'fact' that they have been saying one of them wrong for their entire lives. Then everyone just calls me Steve.

As a Stephen myself, I was thinking I could come up with a similar Buzzfeed list. And then there are the (English speaking) people who look at my name and say "Stefen" or "Step-hen". Gah. It's not even and uncommon name! There are several famous people who spell it the same way!

But I do tend to introduce myself as Steve in social situations. As a kid I never understood why my dad preferred that way too, but now I do.
posted by sbutler at 10:20 AM on November 8, 2014


So, it isn't pronounced Ay-ay-ron?
posted by OHenryPacey at 10:26 AM on November 8, 2014 [11 favorites]


You are thinking of do doo ron.
posted by biffa at 10:29 AM on November 8, 2014 [3 favorites]


Geoff vs Jeff? I asked a Geoff about this, and he turned to a friend and said "I don't know-- what do you think GEE-orge?"
posted by Devils Rancher at 10:37 AM on November 8, 2014 [5 favorites]


Every time someone brings it up I am baffled anew that various people hear no difference in the mary/marry/merry thing. Now this aaron/erin thing is even more baffling.
posted by poffin boffin at 11:05 AM on November 8, 2014 [7 favorites]


My name Stuart, inevitable gets the spelling Stewart, especially in Starbucks.

The other weirdness I encounter is because I use my middle name online, so Stuart Ian Burns, to make me more identifiable in searches and the like and in a way hide myself from stuff that related to my real life where its Stuart Burns on everything, I get called Ian *a lot* in emailed replies, almost as though they think in glancing my first name is some kind of title. Even when I reply with a correction, I'll still get Ian back. It's odd.
posted by feelinglistless at 11:06 AM on November 8, 2014


I'm from central/northern New York state and I definitely both pronounce and hear Erin/Aaron differently, and so do most people in my family to my recollection (I have cousins named Erin and Aaron), so it must be regional. And I can also vouch for the idea of it being an extremely common name among girls my age (I was born in 1979). It wasn't quite as common as Jennifer, but there were always at least three Erins in my grade.
posted by katyggls at 11:08 AM on November 8, 2014


@feelinglistless: For a long time I had "Stephen Joseph Butler" as my email From name. IDK why, it's just something I did. Then one guy started making comments to "Joe" in an email thread. I kept scratching my head, wondering who he was talking to. "There's no Joe's on this email..." until I realized he was talking to me!

Now it's just Stephen J. Butler.
posted by sbutler at 11:12 AM on November 8, 2014


poffin boffin: "Every time someone brings it up I am baffled anew that various people hear no difference in the mary/marry/merry thing. Now this aaron/erin thing is even more baffling."

I pronounce "merry" differently from mary/marry, but when saying the latter two words I cannot hear or discern a difference. I am baffled that there's supposed to be a difference between mary/marry.
posted by katyggls at 11:13 AM on November 8, 2014 [2 favorites]


@sbutler. Yes, thought of that but Stuart I. Burns looks rubbish. Plus it only saves me one character. So I just let the Ian's have their way when necessary.
posted by feelinglistless at 11:15 AM on November 8, 2014


Somehow there aren’t really any famous Erins, despite the fact that we are amazingly talented human beings.
Erin Gray?
posted by Flunkie at 11:15 AM on November 8, 2014 [2 favorites]


I always wondered why Tyrone was a popular boy's name in America. It's the name of a county, but I've never heard of an Armagh or Fermanagh.
I think it may be related to Tyrone Power, who was a movie star in the 30s, 40s and 50s. He was one of a long line of actors named Tyrone Power, the first of whom actually was born in Ireland. I think that Tyrone in the US may be a movie-star name, rather than an Irish name. In the US, it's stereotypically associated with black people, not Irish-Americans, for what it's worth.
posted by ArbitraryAndCapricious at 11:24 AM on November 8, 2014 [2 favorites]


There was an Erin in my kindergarten class, which was very confusing for me, and I assume also for her. I never met another Aaron (or even heard of one other than Aaron Copeland and the guy in the Bible) until I was around 10. Growing up in the upper midwest, I never heard anyone pronounce the two names differently, and even now the only person I know who pronounces my name differently than I would expect to hear "Erin" is from England.
posted by aaronetc at 11:27 AM on November 8, 2014


To complicate the Erin/Aaron thing, I know a male person named Erin. (Because of his Irish ancestry. At least he is free from Erin-Go-Braless jokes.)
posted by scratch at 11:28 AM on November 8, 2014


The acid test for Irish naming is not Erin or Colleen, it's Caitlin.
posted by Thing at 11:30 AM on November 8, 2014


Somehow there aren’t really any famous Erins, despite the fact that we are amazingly talented human beings

Yep, none at all, and definitely none notable enough to have had their life story made into a major Hollywood movie staring Julia Roberts. Maybe one day an Erin will have their moment in the sun.
posted by Jon Mitchell at 11:35 AM on November 8, 2014 [9 favorites]


Katelyn was in the top 100 girls names in Ireland in 2013, and Erin was in the top 50, so I think our "things that Irish people don't name their daughters" info might be out of date, though, Thing.
posted by ArbitraryAndCapricious at 11:37 AM on November 8, 2014 [3 favorites]


I'm an Erin. #4 was the bane of my existence in junior high. I'm surprised to hear people say Erin was almost as common as Jennifer; I've generally always been the only Erin in school and work.

21st century first world Erin problem: iPhone always wanted to autocorrect my name to Eric. I suffered with it for over a year. Then I switched to Android, which learned my name after the third time I typed it.

In conclusion, Android is better than iPhone.
posted by rabbitrabbit at 11:40 AM on November 8, 2014 [11 favorites]


In British accents: Erin is Eh-rin (short e), while Aaron is usually either Air-ron (long a) or Ah-ron (short a).
posted by rh at 11:40 AM on November 8, 2014 [2 favorites]


Katelyn was in the top 100 girls names in Ireland in 2013, and Erin was in the top 50, so I think our "things that Irish people don't name their daughters" info might be out of date, though, Thing.

I remember some years ago when I learnt that all these women in the US called Caitlin had the same name as my aunty Kathleen, but none of them knew how to pronounce it. Maybe Ireland should've sent a mission to help them before the problem reached their shores. I guess it's too late now. Next you'll be telling me they're naming girls Kerry too.
posted by Thing at 11:47 AM on November 8, 2014


If I say the first syllable of the words "error" and "arrow", can you hear the difference?

In my Texas dialect, those are identical. The are homophonous with "air."
posted by Pater Aletheias at 11:54 AM on November 8, 2014 [3 favorites]


I was one of three in my extended group of high school friends. We all spelled it differently (Erin, Aerin, Ehrin) and used numerical additions for differentiation. So much fun to be Aerin, so many misspellings and mispronunciations and gender confusion.

"I love how you spell your name! Where did it come from?"

I didn't spell it this way, I deserve no credit for this mess. It is something my mother made up in the 70's because my dad's family wouldn't let her name me Arwen from Lord of the Rings. I laugh now because my brother's daughter is Eowyn.
posted by monopas at 11:54 AM on November 8, 2014 [5 favorites]


You know, Erin, the brother of Moezes.
posted by blue_beetle at 12:02 PM on November 8, 2014 [4 favorites]


I am Monopas's Mother and I love her name. I didn't like "Erin", and I was young and grew up in the San Francisco area during the sixties. At least she didn't wind up as "Moon Unit".
posted by Altomentis at 12:15 PM on November 8, 2014 [11 favorites]


And I don't know that Aerin Lauder is exactly famous except among snobby cosmetics lovers who can afford to shop at Saks Fifth Avenue.
posted by Altomentis at 12:17 PM on November 8, 2014 [1 favorite]


Every time someone brings it up I am baffled anew that various people hear no difference in the mary/marry/merry thing.

It's not that we don't hear it. It's that we don't hear it often, because people around here don't pronounce shit like that. Play us an old David Brenner routine, we'll hear it vurry, vurry, vurry, vurry often.
posted by Sys Rq at 12:17 PM on November 8, 2014


Try Sean, the name that despite being incredibly common is still mispronounced way too often, "See-anne, Seen??" Or at dinner parties with any noise is heard as John.

American doesn't do well with Irish names I guess?
posted by Ferreous at 12:18 PM on November 8, 2014


Not that it matters much at all, but there are in fact New York dialects in which the vowel in "Aaron"/"marry" is distinct from the one in "bath" too (I know because I speak one). This doesn't seem to be widely shared even among New Yorkers, in fact to my ear it sounds a bit like a marker of Queens/Long Island, but I've noticed it in some people's Pennsylvania and Boston dialect as well.

So those would be dialects where "trap" and "bath" have different vowels, right?
posted by nebulawindphone at 12:21 PM on November 8, 2014


I think the difference in this case is that Irish people know that cailín means "girl", so when you say "Colleen" we hear "girl", and would not be very used to hearing it as a name. The same way a French person might double-take if you called your son "Garçon".

I think the French might also do a double-talk at "Colleen." "Who names their daughter 'Hill'?"
posted by ricochet biscuit at 12:25 PM on November 8, 2014


30 Erins agree: coleslaw deserves a second chance.
posted by batfish at 1:37 PM on November 8, 2014 [3 favorites]


Try Sean, the name that despite being incredibly common is still mispronounced way too often, "See-anne, Seen??" Or at dinner parties with any noise is heard as John.

American doesn't do well with Irish names I guess?


Seans represent! And we aren't even going as fast as the spelling issues. (I tend to tell olderish people "It's Sean as in Connery, not as in Cassidy."

Rest of you name-whiners can just bugger right off.
posted by Samizdata at 1:37 PM on November 8, 2014


To complicate the Erin/Aaron thing, I know a male person named Erin.

I know one as well, and I think his last name is generally Irish, but I don't know him well enough to know whether that's significant.

To complicate matters further, I also know a male Arin.
posted by LionIndex at 2:11 PM on November 8, 2014


We should probably get a free birthright trip to visit Ireland, since our name literally means “Ireland.”

No, it literally doesn't. It's an anglicisation of Éirinn or Éireann. The only thing in Ireland named Erin is a soup company.
posted by DarlingBri at 3:26 PM on November 8, 2014


Add to the fact that i'm actually a Christophe and not a Christopher (thanks, mom!) and it will get fucked up 100% of the time. Had a teacher ask me once "Is it really Chris-tu-FEE, or did they forget the R?"

Try being a Christoff. The double Fs make some people's brains stall out completely. At least now I can say "Y'know, like Frozen, but with a CH."
posted by CKmtl at 3:30 PM on November 8, 2014


MeTa.
posted by homunculus at 3:55 PM on November 8, 2014


Try Sean

My father got the other side of this. His name is Shaun but the Irish parish priest who married my folks decided he knew the proper spelling so he used Sean on the paperwork. Hence their marriage blessing from the pope says Sean.
posted by biffa at 4:29 PM on November 8, 2014


Next you'll be telling me they're naming girls Kerry too.

I knew several girls named Kerry in high school. It was at least as common in my corner of suburban Chicago as Carrie.
posted by me3dia at 5:22 PM on November 8, 2014


So those would be dialects where "trap" and "bath" have different vowels, right?

Not really, though it maybe does affect those two words; but that page appears to be talking about a different vowel thing in some (not all) British accents; the thing I'm talking about is what the footnote and another post on that blog calls the tense-lax vowel split. That article gives some good word pairs, cap/cab and batch/badge, which (for me at least) are super-distinct in some forms of New Yorkese but indistinguishable in almost any other US English context.
posted by RogerB at 5:24 PM on November 8, 2014 [1 favorite]


So can we try to compile all the different mutations that show up in that comments thread?
(Excluding differences in gender) I got:
Erin
Erinn
Eryn
Erryn
Aeron
Aeryn
Erron
Airin
What am I missing?
posted by Potomac Avenue at 5:31 PM on November 8, 2014


Re: the one about doing errands... my mother's name is Erin and so as a child I always thought her small tasks were called Erins and mine would logically be called Carmichas.
posted by carmicha at 5:44 PM on November 8, 2014 [11 favorites]


I once was working with an Aaron, Erin, and Karen at once. As a Jennifer, it was nice to be the unique one for a change.

Where's the Buzzfeed list for Jennifer complaints?
posted by jenfullmoon at 6:11 PM on November 8, 2014 [1 favorite]


One could create a pretty good blog or wiki with the standard list of bullshit everyone with any specific name gets. Bonus points for automatic cross-referencing linking of rhyming names; I'm sure that all the Lauras and Doras can sympathize with me for always getting mixed up with each other.
posted by NoraReed at 7:24 PM on November 8, 2014


But, I also admit to being confused by people named Erin who *aren't* Irish-American -- like, why would your parents give you that name if you weren't?

I have been asking myself that for three decades. Then again, they also named my brother Erik, so I'm going to answer your question with, "because my parents, in particular, are jerks."
posted by sephira at 9:25 PM on November 8, 2014 [1 favorite]


Another rich vein of name complaints are from Todds who want you to know that they're not Scott.
posted by Space Coyote at 9:35 PM on November 8, 2014


My 22-yr-old son is Sean. Had he been born after I saw this xkcd, I would have used the "seen" pronunciation from Day 1.
posted by she's not there at 10:05 PM on November 8, 2014


I don't see any Erans.
I think we may be the rarest sort of Aaron.
posted by St. Sorryass at 12:22 AM on November 9, 2014 [1 favorite]


I am a Colleen. It is hardly ever pronounced or spelled correctly. When I introduce myself to people I get, "of course your name is Colleen....the map of Ireland is on your face". I wish that would end.

I have a goddaughter whose stoned and stupid parents saddled her with the name "Cahleen"...it is a variation of the name Caitlin that they created. I begged them not to do that to her, but stupidity won out. According to them the name has a silent T and is pronounced Cawtleen with some heavy breathing in the middle. Since no one could pronounce it she became Kate.
posted by cairnoflore at 1:08 AM on November 9, 2014 [5 favorites]


At least Erin is not a euphemism for a body part or vulgar activity....

So far.
posted by Bruce H. at 2:12 AM on November 9, 2014 [2 favorites]


I'm an Erin from NH, where people can distinguish between Erin and Aaron, but generally don't bother. The Aaron in my class also had a last initial of K., and we were in nearly every class together from 2nd grade one. Most teachers just called us by our full names, but Mr. Marcoullier called us the Good Erin and the Bad Aaron, and Mrs. Stavropolous just called us Boy and Girl.

I didn't really like Mrs. Stavropolous.
posted by ChuraChura at 4:56 AM on November 9, 2014 [5 favorites]


Oh man ... I am visiting Boston and yesterday in the coffee shop that I had carefully sourced on Yelp as having Real Stumptown Cold Brew, there were no fewer than FIVE Erins called during the hour I was there. (Well, 4 Erins and an Aaron, going solely by the gender breakdown of the coffee-grabbers.)

It was very disconcerting, as I am on the leading edge of Erins, having been born a good seven-eight years before the start of the Erin demographic bump. (This tends to make people think I'm younger than I actually am ...) In my head I'm still convinced that I have a dumb unusual name, but Erin is no longer unusual (it's still a bit dumb, in my opinion). On the plus side, I'm much less likely now to be called "Ann" or "Erwin"!

(I went to Ireland for the first time a year ago and spent most of the time being embarrassed about my name, but folks were nice about it.)

I really, really wish my parents had named me after my paternal great-grandmother. I would have been an excellent "Maud", but I'm really just an average "Erin".
posted by esperluette at 7:33 AM on November 9, 2014


Woe upon those named Eron . The name stinks.
posted by Yowser at 8:02 AM on November 9, 2014


On the other hand, I'm one of two Erins and an Aaron in my graduate program. We call ourselves Bone (the bioarchaeologist Erin who specializes in osteology), Stone (the archaeologist Aaron who studies lithics and stone tool technologies), and Monkey (I'm the primatologist Erin).
posted by ChuraChura at 8:14 AM on November 9, 2014 [8 favorites]


My mother, Erin, was born in the mid-30s and so grew up as the only one with her name everywhere she went, especially after she took on my father's long complicated Dutch name. When Erin became super-popular, she reacted with pleasure that it had finally achieved pop culture lift-off and she didn't have to spell it anymore and sorrow that her name was no longer unusual.
posted by carmicha at 8:14 AM on November 9, 2014


Whether or not there is somewhat of a pronunciation difference between Erin & Aaron, the problem is that it's close enough, given standard variations in accents and ambient noise, that if we hear either word we're going to tune in.

The Erin/Aaron distinction, along with the fact that I lived with another Aaron, is why I still go by lemur to about half of my friends. It makes my life so much easier.
posted by Lemurrhea at 3:42 PM on November 9, 2014


Every time someone brings it up I am baffled anew that various people hear no difference in the mary/marry/merry thing.

Probably the same people that can't handle the Sebastien/Sebastian pronunciation divide.
posted by sebastienbailard at 2:33 AM on November 10, 2014


I'm a Gillian and people constantly think I'm called Julie, Julianne, or Julian. The latter is the most confusing since it would be very hard to mistake me for a man.

How popular was Kayleigh before the Marillion song of the same name? There seemed to be a lot of little Kayleighs and Kylies (thanks to the popstar) in the late 80s.

'Shaun' always looks odd to me, as both my sister and myself went out with Seans. I occasionally have to phone people in Ireland for work, so I can now pronounce Eimear, Aoife and Saiorche well enough. Erin and Aaron are very much pronounced differently in the UK IME.
posted by mippy at 4:56 AM on November 10, 2014


I knew a girl named Arin, which just seems like an intentional challenge to anyone who thinks they've got the hang of the Erin/Aaron distinction.
posted by naoko at 7:44 AM on November 10, 2014


he same way a French person might double-take if you called your son "Garçon".
But "Guy" is an actual name in French, so they have no room to talk.


My understanding of "Guy" in French (and it surprises me that this isn't in the Wikipedia entry) is that it originated as short for "Guillaume," which is French for William. Thus, pronounced "Gee" with a hard G, and not like any old guy. I don't know how or when the pronunciation mutated.
posted by dlugoczaj at 9:07 AM on November 10, 2014


How popular was Kayleigh before the Marillion song of the same name? There seemed to be a lot of little Kayleighs and Kylies (thanks to the popstar) in the late 80s.

In America, I don't know, because I don't think Marillion ever hit a huge popularity level here. I do know one American Kayleigh who was named expressly for that song, but she was the child of one of the few Marillion fans I knew in college. Same for Kylie, since Kylie Minogue was never the huge deal here that she is in Britain (I think Americans know her "Locomotion" cover and that's it). I think those names both started climbing in popularity in America more recently, as part of a boom of similar names (Riley, Bailey, probably Miley, etc.).
posted by dlugoczaj at 9:18 AM on November 10, 2014


"It's not that we don't hear it."

That's not completely true. It's sometimes true. Other times, though, if someone doesn't have a phoneme in their dialect, then they (usually) can't "hear" it without more familiarity and practice.

The most familiar example to many people is the diphthong /aʊ/ in dialects with "Canadian raising", as in about. People who lack that particular phoneme (most of the US south of the upper midwest) don't really hear it, but rather interpret it as the closest phoneme in their dialect. Thus the notorious "a-boat" interpretation, which isn't what those with Canadian raising actually say and they tend to get annoyed about claims to the contrary.

"No, it literally doesn't. It's an anglicisation of Éirinn or Éireann. The only thing in Ireland named Erin is a soup company."

Yes, it literally does.

The anglicized transliterations Rome, Copenhagen, and Seville do, in fact, literally mean Roma, København, and Sevilla, as do -- to pick a couple at random -- the anglicized place names Shandon and Owenbeg for the Irish Gaelic An Seandún and An Abhainn Bheag, respectively. And, of course, there's a large body of literature of Irish writers writing in English who use Erin for Éirinn. You know all this, of course, but you chose to rudely respond to someone and authoritatively assert a falsehood merely because Erin annoys you.
posted by Ivan Fyodorovich at 2:42 PM on November 10, 2014


On the other hand, I'm one of two Erins and an Aaron in my graduate program. We call ourselves Bone (the bioarchaeologist Erin who specializes in osteology), Stone (the archaeologist Aaron who studies lithics and stone tool technologies), and Monkey (I'm the primatologist Erin).

I move that all Erin/Aaron namespace collisions be resolved by application of these three nicknames.
posted by nebulawindphone at 3:51 PM on November 10, 2014 [3 favorites]


The most familiar example to many people is the diphthong /aʊ/ in dialects with "Canadian raising", as in about. People who lack that particular phoneme (most of the US south of the upper midwest) don't really hear it, but rather interpret it as the closest phoneme in their dialect. Thus the notorious "a-boat" interpretation, which isn't what those with Canadian raising actually say and they tend to get annoyed about claims to the contrary.

You're thinking of "aboot." That's the one that doesn't exist. "Aboat" is the thing we do say up here. It's kinda hard to get that across to people in certain places (*gestures in the direction of Philadelphia*) where a boat is called a beewt, though.

(That said, point taken re: familiarity and practice.)
posted by Sys Rq at 6:53 PM on November 10, 2014


"You're thinking of 'aboot.'"

That's how I heard it before I married a Canadian; but some people hear it /oʊ/ as in boat. Depending upon both the speaker and the hearer, it can go either way. I think most people with Canadian raising /aʊ/ consider it as distinct from /u/ as in boot, but that doesn't mean that this must necessarily be the case for you, even if you have Canadian raising /aʊ/.

But I'm very familiar with it now and learned to hear it as itself, and I can manage it in speech, though not entirely casually. I have a few relatives in Wisconsin and Minnesota that have very mild Canadian raising, too. It certainly doesn't sound like aboot to me anymore, though it once did.
posted by Ivan Fyodorovich at 12:55 AM on November 11, 2014


I occasionally have to phone people in Ireland for work, so I can now pronounce Eimear, Aoife and Saiorche well enough.

I live here and I occasionally ask Twitter how to pronounce a name when I am about to ring someone I don't know. Rionach and Caoimhe were my most recent consults.
posted by DarlingBri at 3:08 AM on November 11, 2014


I occasionally have to phone people in Ireland for work, so I can now pronounce Eimear, Aoife and Saiorche well enough.

I live here and I occasionally ask Twitter how to pronounce a name when I am about to ring someone I don't know. Rionach and Caoimhe were my most recent consults.


I wish the Internet had been a big thing when I first read Roddy Doyle's books. "Aoife" threw me for YEARS (and I so hate it when I don't know how to pronounce character names, it just messes up the text flow in my head).
posted by dlugoczaj at 2:39 PM on November 11, 2014


I also, as a Sean, used to date a girl named Seana, who most people just called Sean.

It was kind of amusing to see us both turn around when someone would yell "Hey! Sean!"

I think...
posted by Samizdata at 3:26 PM on November 17, 2014


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