It happened again.
I was at a party with a sizable crowd and where I did not know anyone other than my hosts. So I did the usual self-introduction thing and told them my first name. One woman said, “I remember when I can incapacitated by it in college”. She had, like so many others, thought my name was spelled and pronounced as ‘mono’, short for mononucleosis, the infectious disease sometimes referred to as ‘the kissing disease’ because the Epstein-Barr virus that causes it is spread through saliva and kissing is a common way of transmission.
Actually, there is a subtle difference in pronunciation between the two words but many people miss it and usually go to the first word they are familiar with. I then tell them that it is spelled and pronounced like the Spanish word for ‘hand’ and that clears things up, especially if they know some Spanish.
I sometimes wonder whether I should bother at all. It seems a little picky and suggests an elevated sense of self-importance to correct people on such a minor error as the pronunciation of your name, especially with people I am likely to never meet again. So why do I do it? Perhaps it is because I do not wish it thought that my parents were weird enough to give me a name associated with a virus.
Incidentally, I had never heard of this disease in Sri Lanka, likely because kissing on the lips is something that is only done within the context of marriage or extremely clandestinely between two intimate partners. So while in the US, it can spread widely on college and high school campuses, in Sri Lanka it was totally absent. At least, I did not know a single person who contracted it.