Sunday, July 8, 2007

The Grief with "Greif"

Are you American? So do you see a difference in the two words of the title beginning with G?
If not, you are in good company. Let me explain...

My family name (last name) is Greif, it is pronounced with a vowel like in Friday. It is German, and means griffin.

I first noted that the spelling of my name is causing difficulties for Americans, after my colleagues returned from a WWDC in the late '90es. When they mentioned their affiliation while talking to a Metrowerks compiler engineer, he responded something like
"we know a guy from the same shop, his name is Gabor Grief."
They surely remembered my name because back then I bombarded them with many obscure C++ template compilation bug reports, actually causing them a considerable amount of grief. (They were really good in fixing them.)

Since then this is happening regularly. And I always explain patiently. Now, thanks to this blog, it will suffice to provide an URL :-)

As an aside, after spending my vacation at Fuerteventura in 2001, back on the airport I bought a bottle of Lanzarote wine with the name El Grifo. I have sworn to myself to only open it when I get a son. It took 6 years, and Helena came. The wine still tasted good, we enjoyed it with the family.

1 comment:

asl said...

Heh :) I really understand you. As you can know, pronunciation of russian words really differs from what's written due to many unstressed syllables, sounds omission and substitution and so on.

So, even speaking russian I have to tell my family name by syllables, just only to get it written somewhere correctly :)