Deb Dana’s Green Maiden Name

Lots of things come to mind when I think of the word “green”: grass, trees, money, environmentally friendly behavior, envy, split pea soup.

But the one word I think of first is my maiden name: Greenspon.

Having the last name Greenspon was both a blessing and a curse. On the one hand, it meant I was part of the most supportive, wonderful family, who would do anything for me at the drop of a hat.

On the other hand, it meant people mispronounced and misspelled my last name ALL THE TIME.

Notice the last four letters of that name: S-P-O-N. Not “-span.” Not “-spun.” Not “-spawn.” SPON. For twenty-seven years, that wily O confounded everyone who crossed its path.

I think some people thought I was just trying to be fancy with my pronunciation of Greenspan. Legend has it that my grandmother, upon meeting my grandfather — whose name was Sam — smirked when he pronounced his last name. “And I suppose you pronounce your first name ‘Sahm,’ hmm? Is that right, Sahm Greenspahn?'” To which he replied, “Um. No. It’s Sam. Sam Greenspon.”

When I started working at the PBS Nightly Business Report, Alan Greenspan was still chairman of the Federal Reserve. I always found it interesting how quickly sources returned my calls when I first started that job. Until, of course, they realized I was GreenSPON, not GreenSPAN. I had a good run, though.

When I got married, I figured my days of last-name confusion were over. At last! A last name the world wouldn’t butcher!

And then I received a call at work one day from someone looking for Dana Bates. Sigh.

Do you have an easy last name to spell and/or pronounce? Or are people constantly getting yours wrong, too?

5 Replies to “Deb Dana’s Green Maiden Name”

  1. Everyone (almost) mispronounces my kids’ last name (even at my son’s high school graduation, where everyone knows the correct pronunciation). It isn’t the name I use except legally, and in anything regarding them in our small town. The problem is, that’s no longer how I identify myself and people say Amy Marriedname and I have no idea who they’re talking about. And considering I don’t use it to publish (never have) and haven’t used it publicly for 10 years, it sort of annoys me. But that’s another post.

  2. Pronunciation isn’t such a big dead for me, but do you know how many ways there are to spell Schafer? Or Kerry for that matter? The odds of getting them both right are astroomical. I answer to everything without blinking, Although when the telemarketers call I usually know, because for some reason they don’t recognize Schafer, which one would think to be a fairly common name. They ask for Kerry SKaffer. To which I reply, “nobody by that name lives here.”

    1. I get to give that answer to telemarketers at work ALL THE TIME – and I love it.

      My law firm is “Llewellyn + Spann, Attorneys at Law” and we’re always getting people who call up to speak with “Llewellyn Spann.” Now, 90% of the time, they can’t even get the Llewellyn part right – but MY first name is Susan, and my law partner’s name is David, and we are TWO people, not one.

      I shouldn’t make fun, though. It took me forever to learn to spell Llewellyn.

  3. I thought my last name was pretty straightforward, but when I lived in Texas, telemarketers always called me “Mrs. Grim-ez.” And even here in VA, I’ll get the occasional “Mrs. Grims.” At least everyone gets “Linda” right. *grin*

  4. You’d think my name was easy – and “Susan” usually is – but it amazes me how many people have trouble with “Spann.”

    My husband (who grew up with it) heard all the variations long before I did (including the oh-so-mature playground version: “SPAM”), but in the decade-plus that we’ve been married, I find people have about a 50/50 chance of pronouncing it right. The correct pronunciation is “Span” – like a bridge or the first part of the British term for a wrench. What surprises me is how often people try to pronounce it “Spawn” (or “Spahn”). I’m not offended – I can understand the mistake – and if correcting it would be awkward I don’t even bother most of the time (generally only when NOT correcting would lead to more awkwardness later on).

    Hey – at least the Susan part is easy.

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