by jemma margaret

As a kid, I found it pretty annoying that no one could pronounce my last name.

Lore-en-et, I would correct with an exasperated sigh.

Yes, I was well aware that my last name is spelled incorrectly. In no language that I know of are the letters “at” pronounced “et”–“ah” yes, “au” maybe, “ay” sure, “ae” and so on.

The first two syllables are pretty straightforward.

With the current language/accent barrier when no one understands me when I say real French words, I have taken to giving my name in the closest approximation to French phonetics as possible. Even this only works about 10% of the time. Oh well, I am now a pro speller: “El oh air uh en ah tay”!

On Friday at the airport I was checking in with my passport. The lady at the counter read my name and commented that it seemed French.

Rather than I silent nod, I tried to explain in French that it was a made-up last name. What came out, unfortunately, was that my name was not true, was in fact false. Not a good thing to say to someone who is checking your passport at the airport.

For once my terrible French came in handy, she seemed to have no idea what I was talking about and returned my papers unproblematically.

Next step, international spy.