Thursday, December 04, 2008

My name is Adeel. Adeel is, to my understanding, an Urdu version of the Arabic Adil. Adeel sounds like you just agreed to something, Adil sounds like you just want a pickle. Koreans try and say my name the way it's said in English, but it comes out as "ah-dil" instead of "a-dee-yul". A Korean once asked me if they were saying it right. To be honest, I don't really care how you say my name, because you're going to say it wrong anyway unless you speak Urdu. I tried to explain this to them, but they insisted that it was my name and that they should say it the way I want it said. Exasperated, I said that they were trying to say, with a Korean accent, an English pronunciation of an Urdu version of an Arabic name. The person didn't really understand.

In some frustrating moments, I've thought about a name change. In my time here, I've acquired a Korean name, much as many Koreans acquire English names. Some put lots of thought into it. I know a Faye who gave a lot of thought to becoming a Violet, but in the end decided against it. Others don't give it much thought. I know a Jasmine, Cinderella, Snow White, Honey (a boy), McQueen, Euro, Hercules, Tiger, Celine, Mini and, yes, even a Hubert. My Korean name (given to me) is Cheol Su, which is a popular name for characters in children's books. No one really knows me by Cheol Su, but it's a wonderful icebreaker. I've told maybe 15-20 people my Korean name. Of those, only one has failed to laugh, and he had run the first 16 km of a half marathon.

Of course, you might think that it's no big deal how you pronounce my name. Adeel by any other name would be just as caustic and loquacious, you believe, and you're mostly right. Then there's that retort Kal Penn offered when playing a young terrorist named Ahmed on 24:

Scott: But Ahmed, we're friends!
Ahmed: What friends? You can't even pronounce my name.

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