is Bryn. It is a one-syllable masculine Welsh name, common in the British Isles but not even on the U.S. Census radar for male names. If you remember that you can pronounce the letter "y" as "ih" (as in "physical") it is easy to pronounce in English. My daughter, now an adult, had the name taped by age three. (Welsh is another matter, but unless you're a Welsh speaker, that's not your problem.)
All my life my name has been a useful intelligence test, and I have to say most people flunk. My observation after fifty-some years is that most Americans are lazy, stupid, arrogant, or all of the above when it comes to name recognition.
Let's parse that.
Most people hear me say my name and then say something else, usually Bryan, Byron or Byrne. Same goes for those who read it. I rarely bother to correct them any more. They just get one of Bill Engvall's signs
and we go on from there. It's a helpful name to have in crowds: my daughter learnt very young to call out "Bryn" instead of "Dad," if we got separated.
Over the last generation, I've had to contend with the new breeds of arrogant American. One is the single-malt arrogance of people who assume that I'm unable to spell and pronounce my own name. Regrettably, many of these people find work either in human resources departments (or developing resume-screening software) and can't deal with anything but standard (and usually WASP) names. Such people and their software also assume I'm Bryan, Byron or Byrne, and a sloppy speller. I've even had a couple of these people tell me to my face that my name is Bryan.
I read the "advice" of one of these geniuses recently on a job-hunting Web site. H/she said smugly that s/he deletes any Word resume that has "those red error marks."
Well, D'uh. I've been in the name business as a subset of my occupations for a long while, and I don't think Word has more than two percent of possible individual, company and product names in its default dictionary. Has anyone done a poll to see whether John Smiths and Jane Joneses get more work than Teodoro Guzmans or Bryn Evanses? (And heaven help anyone who hasn't worked for The Redmond Goliath or its suppliers: Word has a very hard time with competitor names, even when you train it.)
The second brand of arrogance is the blended variety. The blended arrogant encompass the pseudo-Celtic cutesy name cult of the suburban bourgeoisie. They can't quite get their brains and tongues around the idea that, for instance, Caitlin is more or less pronounced "Kathleen" in Irish, so their daughters go into the world as someone they call "Kate-Lynn" (hello, Bubba, it's Katie Lynn: got a clue?) Some twenty years ago, one of the intellectual giants who publish books of baby names stumbled across "Bryn" and decided it was a cute girl's name, especially if you add "ne" to the end. The feminine equivalent of Bryn in Welsh is Branwen. This name, with its decidedly Wagnerian overtones, has yet to take off in pseudo-Celtic circles. Still, let's imagine what happens when one of these female Bryns reaches sensitive adolescence, happens to develop an interest in opera, and discovers that she shares her first name with a leading baritone
? I don't think witness protection would help the parents.
Perhaps it's all ingenious Celtic revenge. The people most prone to these solecisms are the grandchildren of people who did their utmost to keep Celtic Americans from even graduating high school. In this generation, Celts at home may have a problem with the gender of the unfortunate offspring, but they'll have no problem deciding who the idiots are.