My name (Amy, if you didn’t know), doesn’t exist in the Spanish language. I remember the first day in my 7th grade Spanish class the teacher gave us all the Spanish equivalents of our names, which were to be used for the whole year. Michael becomes Miguel, Kristen becomes Cristina, easy enough. When the teacher got to my name on the list she thought for a minute and said she would get back to me the next day. She came back with Amada, which is simply the translation of the Latin root of my named, meaning beloved. I’ve never heard of someone actually being named Amada, but it worked for the time.
Fast forward over ten years and my name is still just as problematic in Spanish. My students who have only ever heard my name pronounced spell it something like Eimi or Eymi. Many genuinely think it’s Emily. Those who see it written pronounce it Ah-mee. When I pronounce my name for someone else to write it down, I say Ah-mee and it usually gets written down as Ami. I just can’t win.
However, pop culture has given me a saving grace. I can’t tell you how many times I’ve met someone and they respond with a frown. Your name is what? Amy, I respond. They pause for a moment, puzzled. Oh! Like Amy Winehouse! The first few times this happened it was funny. Then annoying. Now I’ll actually throw it out there to help people wrap their heads around this strange name I go by.
A few Spanish friends have latched on to this and turned it in to a joke, and I now respond to Vinocasa. (Winehouse. Vinocasa. Get it? Yes it’s that silly.)
Now I just wish there was a slightly less tragic celebrity who can bring some recognition to my name and convince Spaniards I’m not making it up.