Budgeting for Vowels

Sunday, November 16th, 2008, 5:10 pm

I got busy yesterday and didn’t post anything. I could make excuses, but let’s just cut to the chase and say that I suck. I’ve been reading Change100’s tweets from Poland as she and the PokerNews crew cover the European Poker Tour’s Warsaw stop. It doesn’t sound like she’s much enjoying the country or, especially, the cuisine.

I’m Polish on my father’s side and I’ve thought about visiting the old country sometime down the line. My last name, Bromberg, is the name of a northern Polish city. Or, it was–“Bromberg” is the German name the city was called during the late 1800’s and early 1900s when the area was part of Prussia. And I think that’s about the time my ancestors decamped for the New World. The Polish name for the city, back in the very old days and in modern times, is “Bydgoszcz”. And no, my spell check isn’t broken.

I really don’t know much about my family’s history, if they showed up at Ellis Island and, like Vito Andolini, some clerk decided to give them the name of their hometown (of course in The Godfather the clerk independently renamed him Vito Corleone). The name “Bromberg” isn’t the most pleasing combination of vowels and consonants you’ll find. BRAAHM-BERG. I always thought that if I ever had a child (a possibility that has been downgraded from “absurd” to “preposterous”) I’d have to give the brat an especially musical first name to make up for a family name that sounds like a grandfather clock pushed down a flight of marble steps.

But while it might be unlikely that there will be an Alejandro Bromberg or a Persephone Bromberg waddling around anytime soon, I should probably be thankful that I’ve only had to worry about navigating through life with “Bromberg” as a last name. Because, Jesus, what would life have been like had my Polish ancestors brought to America the surname “Bydgoszcz”? If you’re not sure how to pronounce that join the crowd. It sounds like this. I can only imagine the nightmare of having to explain over and over and over again how to say my name. My friend Mark also has a borderline-unpronouncable Polish last name–these days he’s professionally known as “Doctor B”. And with all due respect to his tongue-spraining surname it doesn’t hold a candle to “Bydgoszcz”. I know the old saying, “What’s in a name?”, but what if no one can pronounce that name? You meet someone and they can’t say your name…does that predjudice them against you? If a resume arrives on your desk and you’ve no clue how to say the applicant’s name, do you discard it because you don’t want to embarass yourself?

These are the silly things I worry about when the Steelers have a 4pm start.

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2 Responses to “Budgeting for Vowels”

  1. STeelerJosh Says:

    And what a 4 PM start…. and WTF finish it was. Unreal. I was at last weeks game and left in disbelief at the way the game ended. At least last week I could be frustrated with the playcalling and the team. This week? At least is was a win and a Baltimore loss, buying some breathing room at the top. Here We Go Steelers

  2. Darcy Says:

    I was thinking of Mark from the 2nd paragraph. I couldn’t hear the current city name; I’m assuming that link is a sound file? Help slake my curiosity, because I have no idea how to sound it out myself.

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