My name is Hue, short, sweet, and simple. It’s pronounced “hu-ay” instead of how you would normally pronounce the word “hue.” 98% of the people I met in the U.S. pronounced my name incorrectly on their first trial. “Hew”, that’s how they would call me, the way hue is pronounced. Surprisingly, more than 60% of the people I met back home in Vietnam also pronounced my name incorrectly when they first met me! This is because my Vietnamese name, “Huê,” is a translation from the Chinese word “華” (“hua”), which contains no accent. But in Vietnam, the more common name is “Huệ,” so pretty much everyone thought that my name is also “Huệ” instead of “Huê.”
Although my name is fairly simple (3 words, 1 syllable), it’s still a unique and uncommon name. I’m sure there aren’t a lot of people with the name “Huê” like mine. If you know someone whose name is “Huê” (pronounced “hu-ay” with no accent in Vietnamese), do let me know because I really want to meet him/her! Because of my unique name, I always have to repeat it multiple times whenever I introduce myself to someone new and constantly correct them when they pronounce it wrong. The majority of people tried to say it correctly after attempted several variations of my name. But a few others pretty much just gave up after a while and ended up pronouncing my name the way they wanted it to be, no matter how much effort I put into correcting them.
To be honest, there were many times when I seriously considered adopting an American name such as Annie, Lily, or Hannah. It’ll be so much easier to introduce myself and for other people to remember my name! Ultimately, I still like my name a lot and am too lazy to come up with an American name that “suits me.” My name represents who I am and my identity. Although it may be hard to pronounce and remember, “Hue” is unique, special, and I’m proud of it. So to those who know me, or want to know me: Please at least try to pronounce my name correctly instead of butchering it up! And to those with unique names: Be proud of your name because it’s awesome!
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Below is a list of the most common struggles for people with unique names, mostly international students studying abroad, but also for foreigners working abroad. I’m sure you guys have experienced at least half of these struggles before.
- You have to repeat your name multiple times when introducing yourself to someone new.
- People come up with variations and alternate ways to pronounce your name.
- You say your name or raise your hand before professors call to you during roll calls.
- People constantly ask you for your English name.
- You seriously consider having an American name.
- Your baristas and restaurant hostesses always mess up your name.
- Microsoft Word and autocorrect perceive your name to be a spelling mistake.
- You constantly have to double check how your name is spelled in official documents.
- You can never find any souvenir that has your name.
- You have to constantly explain to people the meaning and history behind your name.
- You’re tired of teaching people how to pronounce your name correctly over and over again.
The people you just met are very likely to remember you as that guy/girl with a unique name but can’t remember your actual name or how to pronounce it. Therefore, you have to repeat it over and over again, either by spelling your name out or associating your name with similar words until they finally remember. For me, I had to explain that “Hue” is pronounced similar to “way,” just replace the “w” with an “h” sound at the start.
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“Your name is “Hu-ey,” “Hay,” “Hoi?” You know what, I’m just gonna call you “Hoi” since it’s easier for me.”
No matter how much effort you put into, there are always some people who will just give up trying to pronounce your name correctly. Instead, they’ll choose to say it however they wanted it to be. Sometimes I’m OK with that, especially when I’m too tired or lazy to correct any further. But for most of the times, I would really appreciate it when people attempt to call me “Hue” the way it really is instead of butchering it up and calling it however they like. That way I know that they actually care and respect my name.
Roll calls were scary for me, especially on the first days of classes, because I knew for sure that professors will always mess up my name somehow in their attempts. Out of all the teachers and professors that I had in both high school and college, only 3 of them were able to pronounce my name correctly on their first try. Yup, 3 out of tons of teachers/professors that I’ve had. Therefore, I tried to remember the name of the person before me on the attendance list and always raised my hand before the professors call on me to avoid the awkward silent.
A lot of people often ask what my English name is and are surprised to know that I don’t have one. I have plenty of friends with longer names that are harder to pronounce and they ended up taking more common American names. I also have friends who only use their native names, like myself. There’s no right or wrong in doing that, so whether you choose to have one or not is really up to you.
Because of how often people incorrectly pronounce my name and/or can’t remember it, sometimes I seriously considered having an American name or changing/shortening my name to something easier to remember and pronounce. But on the upside, I do feel special because while there are plenty of “Jessica” and “Michelle” around, there aren’t a lot of people whose name is “Hue”!
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I always cringe in horror when a barista at Starbucks or a restaurant hostess asks me for my name, since I’m certain that they will end up pronouncing or writing down my name incorrectly. I’ve had baristas who wrote my name as “Hey” and “Hewey” on my Starbucks drinks before! “Hey, a drink for Hey!” *cringe in horror*
The struggle is real when Microsoft Word thinks that your name is a spelling mistake and the squiggly red line appears underneath your name. Or when autocorrect simply changes your name to something else. I’m pretty sure I know how to spell my own name… Thank you very much.
Because of your unique name, people are very likely to make a spelling mistake when typing your name on official documents. This is worst if your name contains more than 6 letters. You won’t want to get into trouble later on because your name is spelled incorrectly on important official documents, so always make sure to spend a few extra minutes double checking them!
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This happens to me all the time when I visit a new place and want to buy some souvenirs in my name. You’re almost always certain to not be able to find a T-shirt, mug, pin, accessory or any souvenir that has your name on it when visiting souvenir shops while traveling. If you actually manage to find one (which never happens to me before), you’ll either buy it immediately or take pictures of it to show your friends!
People constantly ask you the meaning and history behind your native name, and you have to give the same answer over and over again. But hey, feel special because people are more interested in your name than they are with common names such as “Alex” or “David”!
The struggle is very real with this one. After repeating your name over and over again and putting in so much effort to get people to correctly pronounce your name, you just feel like giving up on it! If you meet 10 new people every single day, that means you’ll have to teach them how to pronounce your name over 10 times (because it’s very likely that they won’t get it right on the first trial).
But on the bright side, a lot of people who have common names are jealous of your unique name! It’s different, it’s special, and it defines who you are. Every name has its own story, and all of them are beautiful. I’m proud of my own name, and you guys should feel the same way too! Not to mention that it always makes my day when someone I just met pronounce my name correctly on his/her first trial!
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About Hue La
Hey there, I'm Hue (pronounced “huay”, not “hue” like how you would normally say it in English). I'm a USC graduate and traveler with 6+ years of study abroad experience in the U.S. I founded Study Abroad Corner with the goals of providing helpful advice and building a social network for fellow study abroaders around the world.