Thursday, December 4, 2008
On my website bio I say that my name is pronounced "Yahn Show-in-hare". Legend has it that my father's fondness for the paintings of Jan Vermeer led him to want to call me Jan (pronounced "Yahn"), but there was concern that folks wouldn't understand and call me Jan (as in Jan Brady, or something). My mother, meanwhile, being English and Irish, liked the name Ian (pronounced "Ee-in"). So they compromised and named me Ian, but always called me "Yahn" - as do most people who know me well. I'll answer to "Ee-in", but, frankly, it grates a little. I've tried to justify the odd or alternate pronunciation by explaining that the old German (or Latin?) alphabet didn't contain the letter "J", so even Jan (a diminutive of Johannes) Vermeer used to spelled his first name with an "I", but even I find this rationale barely convincing. Then again, I still think "Yahn" is really more of a permanent nickname and that my actual full name is Ian Gray Schoenherr, pronounced "Ee-in Gray Show-in-hare". So I half-wish that I was named and called either Jan Schoenherr or Ian Gray Schoenherr instead of occupying this uneasy middle ground.