Thoughts on purposefully mispronouncing a name/Americanizing?

My husband really loves the name [name_f]Catriona[/name_f] for out little girl due in the [name_f]Spring[/name_f].

However, both he and my son prefer the pronunciation [name_f]Cat[/name_f]-ri-o-na (the correct Irish pronunciation being [name_f]Cat[/name_f]-ree-na).

Honestly, since we live in [name_u]America[/name_u], I imagine most people would pronounce the name [name_f]Cat[/name_f]-ri-o-na…but is that odd to stray from the actual pronunciation?

I think if you change the pronounciation, then you should change the spelling, too. Then it’s more of inventing a new name than mispronouncing one.

I would 100% stick with the original pronunciation. As much as it might sound nice, I don’t think it’s a good idea to change a pronunciation of a name, just because. Especially as [name_f]Cat[/name_f]-ree-nuh itself isn’t difficult to say.

I do understand though. I love [name_f]Orlaith[/name_f] pn. how it looks (Or-layth) but I’d never do it in respect to the original roots and origins, especially as it’s outside my own culture.

I think it’s important to always respect the culture it comes from and thus use the correct pronunciation. [name_f]Imagine[/name_f] she meets an Irish person and get told that she has been pronouncing her own name wrongly her whole life. If you/them really don’t like it, then maybe use different name instead?

I wouldn’t purposely mispronounce the name. As @luneth said, I think it’s important to respect the culture and the proper pronunciation. If you want that pronunciation I would change the spelling. Maybe to [name_f]Katriona[/name_f]?

I wish I liked “K” names:) I should also add, I do have an Irish GG, and took Irish dance classes for years, so I have been involved in the community. Names were all over the board, and “Americanized.” :slight_smile:

When I see/hear this, I assume the parents didn’t do their research or are just ignorant enough not to care.

What would be a reasonable way to change pronunciation (as Catreeona looks so silly!). Emphasis the o-acute?


I’m a little on the fence on this issue. On the one hand, I get respecting the culture the name comes from and think that’s a good thing to do. On the other hand, most Americans pronounce [name_f]Caitlin[/name_f] like [name_f]Cate[/name_f]-lynn, not the more authentic [name_f]Cat[/name_f]-leen, and I think that’s okay, too. Ultimately, whether a name’s pronunciation is linguistically “right” or “wrong”, I think the parents are the ones who get to decide what their child’s name sounds like. (At least until the child is old enough to have a say in the matter!) An Irish person can tell your daughter that she’s saying her name wrong, but that doesn’t change the fact that the name you gave her is pronounced “Ca-tree-oh-na”, and insisting that it is “Ca-tree-na” would, in fact, be wrong.

That all being said, those who are familiar with the Irish pronunciation may be judgmental about it, so I think it’s best to ask yourself if you’re okay with the possibility of that. Of course those of us who hang around a name board are more likely to be aware of the original pronunciation, but the general population probably won’t be and will probably default to your preferred Americanized pronunciation anyway.

Names and words are just letters we give meaning and sound so no I don’t find it rude. There are many different pronounciations of the same name (eg [name_f]Eva[/name_f]: ee-vah, ay-vuh, ev-uh) , but do your research and see if it has any spiritual or religious significance that could make it an issue.

Thank you for the insight! Apparently I am not the only one on the internet who has a back and forth with this particular name! Ha! I found one name board in which the Aussies pronounced it Catri-o-na, and another board in which the mom was looking for Irish names and lived in [name_f]France[/name_f], and her friends wanted to stress the o! [name_m]Even[/name_m] futher, another board said her Irish friend pronounced it with the long o.

Is it reasonable to look at Catrióna like [name_u]Andrea[/name_u] (On-dre-a vs. [name_f]Ann[/name_f]-dree-a vs. Aun-dri-a)? I think the o-acute makes the difference in how we would pronounce?

I am now wondering if my neighbors little girl [name_f]Riona[/name_f] ([name_f]Ree[/name_f]-o-na) is pronounced as [name_f]Ree[/name_f]-na in [name_f]Ireland[/name_f]? And does anyone pronounce the Gaelic [name_f]Fiona[/name_f] as “[name_u]Fee[/name_u]-na,”?

I think the analogy to [name_f]Caitlin[/name_f] is more relevant here than [name_u]Andrea[/name_u]. [name_u]Andrea[/name_u] is a variant of [name_m]Andrew[/name_m] in several languages: it’s masculine and pronounced on-dree-a in Italian, feminine but pronounced the same way in Spanish, and feminine but pronounced differently in English and Hungarian. [name_f]Caitlin[/name_f] is more similar to [name_f]Catriona[/name_f] in this case.

I’m also on the fence. On the one hand, this is a pretty clear cut case of cultural appropriation: it’s a name that is not from your culture (no matter how much interaction you may have had with [name_f]Ireland[/name_f] or Irish dance) and you’re intentionally changing it to “improve” it. It is likely to come across as ignorant (or worse, offensive) to Irish people. You’re also giving this name to a child whose life path you can’t predict- she may move or travel to [name_f]Ireland[/name_f] as an adult and others may judge her for the name she didn’t pick, which would obviously be unfortunate.

On the other hand, this could be viewed as inventing a name, and I don’t think there’s anything at all wrong with that. You’re adding an o to [name_f]Katrina[/name_f], and changes like that happen all the time. I’ve known people named Anthonys (yes, like more than one [name_m]Anthony[/name_m]), Miana, [name_f]Elizabel[/name_f]- inventing a variant on an existing name is a very common practice. Because Irish and English share this name family and even have a cognate- [name_f]Katrina[/name_f]- this case is a bit less clear cut when you reframe it.

The bottom line? It’s your call. I personally wouldn’t. I think you’re entering a minefield of possible cultural insensitivity and imposing that on a child who has no say in the matter. But at the same time, what you’re doing isn’t totally without precedent or even particularly uncommon. I’d respell it [name_f]Katriona[/name_f] or Catrionna or Catreona or abandon the name altogether. But in the end, it’s up to you.

I agree with previous posters’ thoughts on this issue. I just wanted to add that the pronunciation of Catríona in [name_f]Ireland[/name_f] is usually more like “cat-TREE-uh-nuh”, so while the stress is on the “tree” part, it does have four syllables, and as such is distinct in sound from [name_f]Katrina[/name_f]. Perhaps you prefer that?

Ríona would indeed be “[name_f]REE[/name_f]-uh-nuh” in [name_f]Ireland[/name_f], but [name_f]Fiona[/name_f] is usually pronounced the same as it is here, as it’s an anglicised name anyway. :slight_smile:

This helps immensely!

I am still so on the fence…normally, I am such a stickler for pronunciation! That’s why my husband’s suggestion of [name_f]Saoirse[/name_f] is off the table!

Since [name_f]Catriona[/name_f] is the Anglicised version of [name_f]Caitriona[/name_f] (as you mentioned with [name_f]Fiona[/name_f]), linguistically it would stand to reason it could have the same pattern?

[name_m]Just[/name_m] further random thoughts (pregnancy brain), my name is the Irish [name_f]Shauna[/name_f], which I think is pretty straight forward with the dipthong, but 50% of the time I am called “Sha-na.”

I have friends with name [name_f]Genevieve[/name_f], which either go by [name_f]Gen[/name_f]-a-veve (which seems very American to me) or Zhahn-vee-ev.

My son’s Spanish teachers pronounce his name Att-i-coos ([name_m]Atticus[/name_m]) and I would imagine it would be the same if a future daughter hung out in [name_f]Ireland[/name_f], they would just call her Ca-tree-uh-nuh as you suggested?

Thank you for your feedback!

The Catrionna spelling makes the most sense so far.

You mentioned [name_f]Katriona[/name_f] (as have a few other posters, thankyou!), but I don’t personally see how changing the first letter would stress the o!

Pregnancy brain (thoughts come to me later) + my ability to over analyze; perhaps my flexibility on name pronunciation is due to my perception/experience with [name_f]Catherine[/name_f] in general.

Those I know who go by [name_f]Catherine[/name_f] either pronounce Kath-ə-rin or Kath-rin. Perhaps this is my subconscious reason for not going one way on [name_f]Catriona[/name_f]!

I first encountered the name [name_f]Catriona[/name_f] in a book as a young teenager, and thought it was pronounced as it was spelled: [name_f]Cat[/name_f]-ree-oh-na. When I learned that it was actually pronounced [name_f]Cat[/name_f]-ree-nah, I was dismayed. Not because I had been wrong, but because I really liked my original pronunciation as a unique name (I was reading a fantasy novel set in a made-up place, so I was quite prepared to accept any and all names as made up but close to reality; there were many names in that series which I thought were invented, only to find out they weren’t). Anyway, [name_f]Cat[/name_f]-ree-nah, to me, was spelled [name_f]Katrina[/name_f]. So for me, even now, [name_f]Cat[/name_f]-ree-oh-na has a sort of magical and romantic sound.

That being said, I would stick with pronouncing a name as the actual pronunciation dictates. I am a fan of being and sounding educated.

On the other hand, I would consider playing around with spelling to see if I could come up with a spelling to match the pronunciation I wanted. I’m not sure I could find one I’d be pleased with, though.

Also, truthfully, the spelling [name_f]Catriona[/name_f] is so unusual here in the States that I’d seriously consider using whatever pronunciation I wanted for it. If a British kid can be named [name_u]Brooklyn[/name_u] or [name_u]Cruz[/name_u] or [name_m]Romeo[/name_m], without any personal family ties to [name_m]New[/name_m] [name_m]York[/name_m] or [name_f]Italy[/name_f] or the Spanish language, and if girls can be named [name_u]Ryan[/name_u] and any child can be named [name_u]River[/name_u], I’d say [name_f]Cat[/name_f]-ree-oh-na spelled [name_f]Catriona[/name_f] is totally and completely a viable choice. A kid with a story about their name in this day and age, especially one in which the choice was deliberate and not a mistake (as opposed to my HS teacher, years ago, whose friend was named Janith because her dad had a lisp and the nurse wrote it down that way), is totally fine.

Edited to add: I wrote my post before I’d read all 4 pages of comments, and I have to say now, after reading about other pronunciations, etc., GO FOR IT. It’s a legit pronunciation, anyway. I wouldn’t change the spelling or anything, except maybe including the diacritic you mentioned. But if your main concern is “being correct” I’d probably leave the diacritic out if it’s not original to the spelling. This is a head-vs-heart decision: you like it but you think it’s wrong. :slight_smile: Well, it’s not actually wrong, so there’s no actual debate, here, after all.

Personally I wouldn’t change the pronunciation of a name myself but it is an interesting subject. As a [name_m]French[/name_m] name [name_f]Jacqueline[/name_f] is supposed to be pronounced zhak-leen but English speakers tend to say [name_m]Jack[/name_m]-uh-lyn or [name_m]Jack[/name_m]-uh-leen instead. Is that wrong? I don’t think there’s a simple answer.

It’s really not about stressing the O- it’s more related to avoiding the appropriation issue than changing the pronunciation. The name is not pronounced cat-ree-OH-na in its native language, so changing the spelling to a K would, to me, denote that it is a different name. I think it would be less confusing/offensive/odd to Irish people if spelled differently.