Is It Ever OK to Tell a Parent They’re Pronouncing Their Own Kid’s Name Wrong?

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Baby names are a minefield. There are countless ways of spelling names, and brand new names parents invent out of thin air. One UK woman is having a personal crisis, though, because her friends gave their baby a name, and she thinks they’re mispronouncing it. Is it even possible for a parent to mispronounce their child’s name, considering they named the kid in the first place? And if so, is it ever OK to say something about it?

That’s the crisis Mumsnet is dealing with this week.

“Friend has had a baby girl – Anaïs,” a poster going by MrsLeighHalfpenny wrote. “Lovely name, but they pronounce it Annay, and not An-eye-ees. I saw it written down before I heard them say it, and said ‘I love the name Anaïs’ to the grandmother (also my friend). She told me that that’s not how it should be pronounced. Should I explain what a diaeresis is for?”

That’s quite the conundrum. We’ve seen tons of parents come up with names like “Alizabeth” or Abcde (pronounced ab-suh-dee), but this is more like if a parent named their child Phoebe but pronounced it Fobe. Because Anaïs is an existing name that is not usually pronounced “Annay.”

Anaïs is a gorgeous name. It’s popular in France and Spain, and it’s generally pronounced like this:

It’s an easy mistake. I only recently discovered that I’ve been pronouncing Ottilie wrong my entire life. And who among us didn’t pronounce Hermione as “Her-mee-own” at first? (Now I’m feeling paranoid and wishing I’d Googled my kid’s name before filling out the birth certificate.)

The baby’s name is Anaïs, pronounced “Annay.”

But now what to do? The baby has been named, and the parents presumably named her Anaïs while liking the pronunciation “Annay.” One presumes they will not be grateful for the correction and start calling their baby “Ahna-EES.” They made their call, and the baby’s name is Anaïs, pronounced “Annay.”

Mumsnet was deeply divided. Some thought pronouncing Anaïs as Annay was a dreadful crime. Others thought Anaïs was an ugly name if pronounced like Anaïs Nin, and should just be “Annay” because it’s prettier. A bunch of the Mumsnet users were surprised by the controversy, because they’d always assumed Anaïs was pronounced “Annay.”

“Surely it’s up to the parents how the name is pronounced,” one commenter said.

“Totally – my DD is Stephanie, pronounced Sally. I don’t get why people seem to have an issue with it,” another responded.

If it were me, I’d probably just say nothing and call the baby “Sweetie” for the rest of its life.

What would you do? Let us know in the comments.

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(H/T Cafe Mom, iStockPhoto / Liudmila_Fadzeyeva)