Reflections: Communication Problems

by awindram

“The really astute Englishman..must feign a certain diffident hesitation, put in a few well-placed — ers.”
Aspects of Translation (1958)

“And your name is?” asks the Starbucks barista, a black marker pen in hand.
It is the simplest question you could ask someone, and despite knowing that it has been coming, it is one that I have learned to dread and that I am unable to answer crisply. I can’t help it, I’m not sure if it is a subconscious affectation, but I – and I always do this – hum and haw my response.
“Err… Anthony.”
“Sorry?”
“Erm… it’s Anthony.”
“Okay,” says the perplexed-looking barista and scrawls down onto the paper cup what she thinks might be my name. That I pronounce my name Ann-Toe-Knee rather than the more standard American pronunciation of Ann-Thon-Knee complicates matters further, but it is that momentary hesitation – that damn “err” and “erm” – that I am unable to mute. When friends from the UK visit, I hear in some of them that same faltering indecision repeated in their voice as in mine – I end up loving them for it.
“Grande latte for Anty,” shouts the barista. In Starbucks I answer to Anthony, Anty, Andrew, Aaron, Timothy, Alex, Jeremy. Perhaps some sort of name badge is in order?

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