Friday, January 17, 2014

How to pronounce Dr Liz's surname - Chmurycz

I need to warn you before you read this.... this is not your average veterinary blog post.  But then, I am not your average vet either!

Every day, when I see the appointment scheduler packed,  I know I am blessed to meet so many
Fairy Meadow Russell Vale vet
absolutely awesome pets who are much loved. The fact doesn't escape me that there are so many people out there, like you, who really don't care that I have an unusual, virtually unpronounceable surname.

What is important to you, is the special care that your beloved pet receives.

So, Thank You for that! 

It, however, does put  a smile on my face, when someone whom I may have known for years, either by phone, email or by reputation, develops the courage to actually ask "And how do you pronounce your surname?".  There is no embarrassment as far as I am concerned in asking... It is Ok if you don't ask.   At the end of the day, how my surname is pronounced does not change the care and love I feel for those who are part of my animalclinic family or my broader online family.

Anyhow, how is "Chmurycz" pronounced?

For me, I pronounce it as "Dr Liz".(a line I learnt from my Dad - he was a taxi driver, and they always had to have their taxi rego in clear view - when people saw his surname, in the anonymity of probably never seeing him again, they would ask him about his surname - and he would say, " It is pronounced Stan".

I encourage everyone to refer to me as Liz, (or Dr Liz - whichever they prefer).

The strange thing is, I always do a double take whenever someone pronounces my surname correctly,
as I am so used to people not using it all, or mispronouncing it.  I suppose that would be hard for anyone to comprehend who has a surname that is like Smith or Jones.

In other words, Dr Liz or Liz works fine, as far as I am concerned.

Seriously, though - the pronounciation of Chmurycz is difficult - I get that.  Which is why, on the phone with Telstra and the like, whenever I have to say my name, I usually say "My name is Liz, and the surname is "C" "H" (and I then go on to spell it before I pronounce it).  I can then just imagine the look on their face as they try to marry the surname in front of them with the pronounciation of it. Strangely, virtually all of them ask how to pronounce it, but I guess it is always easier, and less embarrassing on the phone (especially if they are in some call centre in Tasmania).

It is the CH part that throws many people - in the Polish language, it has a funny sound, like you are gagging. If you were to say my surname like a Pole,  it would sound something like Kh-moor - rich (using phonetics).

The way I pronounce it, is that I ignore the CH part (treat it like a silent CH) I then start with the " M".  Then it is mu (as in mew (rhymes with few)) - rich.

In other words - I usually pronounce it  "Mew-rich" or "Mu-rich"

With  my brother, however, his wife and their family pronounce it like "Moritz",  as in St Moritz, the famous ski resort for rich people.

The irony doesn't escape my brother nor I, that neither of us have ever been to St Moritz, and we can only dream of being "more - rich".

And the heritage of Chmurycz?  Well it is very very rich and highly  respected/   It is a very old, traditional surname, but it is not a common one.  Even in the Polish phone book, there would be very few entries (from last search, there were none).  It arises from a region of Poland, which is now the Ukraine (thanks to the World War II border changes).  My father was born in a town called Bialo Kryncia, which means, White Water. It is in the area of Podhacje.  My family heritage are crop farmers - ie of those who respect the land.

An interesting fact:   Australia has one of the highest population of Chmurycz's, with most of them based  in Wollongong.  I am not sure of how many other surnames in the world that could claim this.

The interesting thing for me though,  is not that it is  a bunch of the most unlikely letters to come together with only one vowel in a single word, but that it actually has a meaning when translated into the English language - and there are English surname equivalents. (OK, some leniency here - I know welsh names can be equally challenging).

During my youth, I had fantasies of being the long lost great grand daughter of a  Polish Prince (and who is to say that isn't the truth knowing the antics of European Royalty).

Fantasy aside...  "Chmura" is the Polish word for Cloud (I used to think it was Storm - which sounded so dark and romantic). The -ycz is equivalent to "son of" that is so similar in the English Language (such as Johnson and Smithson).

Therefore, the English equivalent of "Chmurycz"  is "Cloudson", which would mean, by translation, my name is Elizabeth Cloudson.

Can you imagine calling me Dr Cloudson or a variation of that?

Dr Liz suits me just fine, don't you agree?

Of course, I had considered anglicising my surname. But you know what?  Shakespeare got it right when he said " A rose by any other name...."  In other words, we cannot escape what is our true selves.

I am Dr Liz, the mad animal vet in Bellambi Lane. I answer to  Dr Liz, Liz and the mad vet

Thanks for being part of the animalclinic bellambvets family.