Thursday, December 4, 2008

Pronouncing Myself

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.


debd94 said...

But Ian, your name and its pronunciation make you unique, and, IMHO, hip. Please keep using "Yahn".

Mema said...

Well now we know where Ian came from. We knew where the Gray comes from and have pronounced your first name correctly thanks to Cousin Vera. I'll get her to your site yet!!

Amora B. said...

That's such a sweet story. :3
I was on the web looking for an explanation for this pronunciation, because I've created a character named Jan and wanted everyone to call him Yahn, I just couldn't find the right word (and that would be "Yahn") to explain it to people on my website. So you really helped me a lot! Thank you!
Your work is lovely! Very unique and inspiring!
See ya!

Ian Schoenherr said...

Amora B.: I wish your Jan the best of luck - and thanks for the encouragement!