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Thursday, February 12, 2015

That's Not My Name!

I am sick and tired of people (i.e. Germans) getting my name wrong. I know I have written about this topic before, but it needs to be said again.

After doing a quick search through my inbox for "Herr Courtney," I gathered this small sample of emails that I have received from people who assumed that:
1) I am a man and/or
2) Courtney is my last name.

And that's not all of them. Even my doctor thinks that my first name is Martin, but since he also has possession of my medical records, he (thankfully) does not make the mistake of calling me "Herr." Instead, I am "Frau Courtney" at his office, which doesn't really bother me.

After getting this so often, however, I have decided to begin shaming the people that write these emails to me. For example, one of the emails above was from a woman that had just written up my new work contract, and she was emailing me to let me know that I could come to her office to sign it. Since she just wrote my name on the contract, I really felt like she should have known better than to write my name wrong in an email.

So, I replied:
"My name is Frau Martin, not Herr Courtney. My first name is Courtney, and my last name is Martin. Please make sure that the correct name is on the contract before I come in to sign it."
A few minutes later, I received my reply:
das habe ich gerade bemerkt, als ich den Arbeitsvertrag in die Unterschriftsmappe legen wollte. Entschuldigen Sie bitte, das ich so unaufmerksam war.
[I just noticed that as I was placing the contract in the folder. Please excuse me for being so unobservant.]
To which I replied:
"Yeah, you were unobservant, and although my initial response may have not sounded so nice, you should be thankful that I didn't go all Breaking Bad on you until you said my name correctly!"
Okay, okay. I didn't really write that, but I wanted to.

Come on, Germans! Learn my name! 

Are there any other expats out there with name troubles?


  1. I get "Herr'ed" ALL the time, and it still surprises me - Rachel is a fairly common name, and, although uncommon, it can even be used in German, and if you're really not sure, GOOGLE IT. When I contact colleagues in China, I always Google to double-check if they're male/female if I'm not sure when I read their name.

    It's lazy, and really gets my goat.


    I also worked in an international office where I had to google names all the time to make sure I addressed it correctly. It is not hard, and if they googled "Courtney Martin," they would see that there are lots of women with my exact name. Ugh!

  3. I get so annoyed when people say my name wrong! My name is has a ae that the Icelanders often turn into their letter of æ which has an i sound. They often get called Kailine, so wrong and so annoying.

  4. I get "Hallo Herr *Surname*" ALL. THE. TIME. On what planet is Beverley a man's name?! (OK, it was a boy's name originally, like 200 years ago. Get with the program, Germans!!) I actually wrote a post about people getting my name wrong a while ago: (I introduce myself as Bev, they assume Beth/Elizabeth).

  5. Just read it, and that is hilarious. As if you were named after the Beverly Hill Cop, hahaha. Germans seriously need to get with it.

  6. Did the tv show Friends not make it to Germany? You'd think between the actress Courtney Cox and the character Rachel, people wouldn't have such a hard time with them. :)

  7. Whenever I introduce myself to someone and they give a weird look, sometimes my boyfriend will jump in with "You know, like Courtney Cox or Courtney Love?!" Unfortunately, it doesn't usually help.

  8. That is awful!!! I used to have this super complicated last name (not really) but everyone mispronounced it! It used to get so mad! And now that I'm married and my new last is VERY easy... People still misspell it. I feel like going Breaking Bad on their asses too! Excuse my language :)

  9. Hhahah, I am lucky to have had a very easy name my whole life growing up in the U.S.! But not so much here.

    The silver lining is that Marco has a very normal, German last name. So, he keeps telling me that if I take his name someday, I won't get this problem anymore, since they will be able to recognize which one the last name is. But I will probably still be called Herr.

  10. Luckily, my name is pretty darn hard to mess up! x

  11. Now this is funny!

  12. I'm so sorry for your name troubles, but at least it made for a pretty hilarious blog post! I don't blame you for wanting to pummel them!

    Since I've taken my husband's German last name, I only have trouble when pronouncing the umlaut. Sometimes I can do it, other times it doesn't come out so clearly. I still pronounce Sarah the American way when I introduce myself. Actually, someone at a party recently asked me "if I had always been called that". I was like...uhh..."Yeah...that's my name." And then I realized that he hadn't yet picked up on my accent and thought I was a German who pronounced her name the English way. It was pretty funny!

    When I named my son Theo and decided to pronounce it ONLY the German way, I expected to have some of my American friends/family not know how to say it. That's why I included a pronunciation guide (TAY-oh) on the birth announcement email. What I did NOT expect was that GERMANS would ask me if we pronounce it Thee-oh, or just assume that it is. Sigh.


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