One “T”

When I was a kindergartner, my teacher wrote everyone’s name on the board and one by one called each of us to the board to find our name and erase it. When she came to me, I informed her that my name was not on the board so she passed me by, moved to the next little kid, and thought I’d eventually catch up to the rest and find my name on the board.

Until the end … there I was, one name on the board and one child still in his seat and not recognizing his name on the board.

On the board was “Scott,” and I finally informed her that my name was not “Scott” but instead was “Scot.” (As in “Scotland.”)

Shall I refrain today from mentioning that a rash of folks have been misspelling my name, a name connected to a country? So, if you are having trouble remembering, just jog your memory by saying “Do we spell it ‘Scottland’ or ‘Scotland’?” Shall I mention that one of my professors kindly informed me that the first thing you learn about a person is his or her name and the second thing you learn is how to spell the name?

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  • Chris

    Our names are significant for they identify us. For instance, my name is Chris and not Christopher.

  • rjs

    I assume the questions in the last paragraph are rhetorical.

  • It could be worse. I have a collection of 175 different ways that my surname has been misspelled. I guess not everyone took a class from your kindly professor.

  • Ann F-R

    “one T” sounds much better than “without the e” 😀

  • Yeah, I remember very clearly that I spelled your name wrong on the first thing I handed to you, lol.

  • Like most things, this reminds me of a Brian Regan skit:

  • Shaylin Clark

    Having grown up in rural Kentucky with the name Shaylin, I very much feel your pain. Half the time when people who read it could pronounce it correctly, they assumed I was a girl (because who names a boy Shaylin, anyway?) or they assumed I went by my middle name (because really, who goes by Shaylin when they have a perfectly good middle name like Timothy to fall back on?).

  • My name gets spelled “Brain” a lot. I still haven’t figured out whether I should get slightly annoyed at the misspelling or just take it as a compliment 🙂

  • Andy Crouch

    If it’s any consolation, Scot, I’ve been bothered by this on your behalf countless times. It drives me crazy when I see someone refer to “Scott McKnight.” 🙂 I’m also going slightly mad about all the responses to “Warren Buffet’s” op-ed in the NYT last week.

  • Terry

    No, you shall not refrain; yes you shall mention. I’m in a empathetic space today, first RJS, and now you Scot (-t), for I have always been a male Terry (always) with people — especially those of the female persuasion — who have been insistent upon spelling my name “Terri” or “Teri” my entire life. Along with T, I share the nickname T, but many gals like that too: Tea. I can’t win at Starbucks.

    I’m glad you were named after Scotland, for I was named after my dad’s childhood dog, a Terrier. With an “i”. Maddening.

    Some days are like that, even in Australia.

  • Warwick

    My first, middle and surname all have multiple alternate spellings. I feel your pain.

    Although, with a slightly more unusual first name, I’ve been dumbfounded by some of the variants people have managed to come up with.

  • Greg Drummond

    I get asked if I spell my name with one “G” or two. I say two… One at the beginning and one at the end!

  • When I was 8 I received a red leather (faux as it turns out) bible with my name gold embossed on the lower front cover – mind you this was for a year of attendance in Sunday School, and yes you guessed it Hale became Hail! Ah well, what’s a name after all.

  • It’s enough to make one reach for a Scottch.

  • Dwight Peterson

    My name is Dwight…also with one-t!

  • For some reason this makes me think of the following quote from Frederick Buechner:

    Buechner is my name. It is pronounced Beekner. If somebody mispronounces it in some foolish way, I have the feeling that what’s foolish is me. If somebody forgets it, I feel that it’s I who am forgotten.

  • jinny

    Yep, names mean something, and it’s especially helpful when there are Jennys, Jennifers, Ginnys, and Jimmys around.

  • I don’t know if this will make you feel better or not. But, I have gotten so used to seeing your name that I keep miss-spelling my new staff member’s name as Scot and he is really fond of that second t. I grew up as Wendy Miiller (pronounced Miller) so I totally feel your pain.

  • T


    Maybe folks are trying to address us both? 😀

  • Dan

    Scot, as in “Scotland,” huh? Here I have always thought it was Scott, as in “Scott Towels.”

  • TJJ

    Well, you were fiesty even as a five year old! Your teacher leatned more about you than just how to spell your name.

  • DRL

    A wonderful story. The stuff of legends! The next time you tell it, you need to add: “And so up the board I went, erasing SCOT and leaving only the last t on the board, resembling the shape of the cross. It was in that moment that I knew I was destined to teach T-ology.”

    Seriously though, Scot, you are a legend indeed!

  • Holly

    Ahhh. I am sorry if I have ever misspelled your name. 🙁

  • alison

    Everyone spells my name wrong, too, and people still ask me if it is my first name or last name. What’s worse – the name gave rise to some really unfortunate nicknames when I was a child.

  • Alistair Wilson

    Scot, As one of the guilty ones – in a published essay, what’s more -, I add a public apology to my earlier private one. I am particularly cross with myself for misspelling your name as my own first name has numerous recognised variations and I have had to learn to answer to the wrong spelling more often than not. Since coming to teach in Africa, where ‘Alistair’ is not a familiar name at all, I have encountered several unusual variations, the most entertaining and flattering of which was ‘All star’! As a Scot (with respect to my nationality), I hope not to make the same mistake with your name again!

  • Ah, Scot … this took me right back to the old One T Saloon days 8)

  • David Himes

    My name is spelled, H-I-M, as in Mary -E-S

  • I seriously get irritated when people spell my name Erick or Erik. They both look ghastly. But I just hold it in most of the time and cry on the inside. 🙂

  • I’ve actually had people (usually immigrants) spell my name “Christ.”

    I always politely decline the promotion.

  • Jon G

    As a “Jon”, and not a “John”, believe me, Scot, I sympathize.

  • This made my whole day. I have several experiences with this. My car even had ONE T on my plates. You are not alone my friend!!!

  • AHH

    I sympathize, being an Allan which is only the 3rd most common spelling of that name. My Ph.D. advisor tried hard to learn it, and finally did after about 2 years. I have known one Alon in my life, so it could be worse.

    A related problem (which Scot does not have) is that my name is reversible; the last name is sometimes used as a first name and my first name sometimes is a surname. So I had to put up with substitute teachers and others who reverse my name as something like H—- Allen, and people thinking they are being familiar calling me by what is actually my last name.

  • Kenton

    Ken? (No.) Kenny? (No.)

    I know it sounds formal like a William or a James or a Robert. I’m not that formal of a guy, I just have a name that sounds that way.

    Just North of Dallas where I live is a town called Denton. Locally I can use “Denton with a ‘K'”. But if I venture off too far that doesn’t work.

    My last name: Self “Like myself, yourself, himself, herself”

    And it still comes our wrong.

    “S-E-L-F as in Frank”

    “Who’s Frank Self?” (AHHHHH!!!)

  • CJ

    Mine would be no periods. I’ve gone by my initials since 4th grade and I think my dad has just recently understood that I don’t use periods (I’m almost 31). My wife’s name is Joscelyn, but most people spell it with either the s or the c. She’s never met anyone who spells it the same way she does (or, as her parents say, the right way).

  • My father and I share a first name that is hard to spell and even harder to pronounce.

    But, I’ve always gone by my middle name, mainly because that is what my parents have always called me. It annoys me to no end when people ask me what my “real” name is. My “real” name is Carter. My first name is just something different.

  • Eric R

    My last name has on unusual spelling. I once told someone how to spell it, and they asked, “Are you sure?” Well, it has been my name all my life.

  • MatthewS

    To be fair, we all are likely to offend at some point or another.

    My name is Matthew, many shorten it to Matt. I don’t prefer that.

    One of my stupidest offenses was when I was working my way through school in eastern Texas. I worked at a healthy-ish cafe called “Bless Your Heart.” The southern drawl took effort for me to follow sometimes. A lady pulled up to the drive-through window and said she was “Smith with two T’s”. So I said “Smitth?”

    She was amused-but-annoyed. “No, my two ice teas. I ordered two teas. Where are my two teas?” Oops!

  • I have people regularly misspell my first name with every variation known to man, but the most common, of course, is Johnathan. Every now and then when it happens, I feel the urge to pull out a big black hard-cover Authorized Version, smack them over the head with it, and yell “If you actually read this thing, you’d know how to spell my name, heathen!”

  • It is Diana with an A NOT Diane with an E. Cannot even begin to count the number of times I’ve been called the wrong name and it really, really gets old. It feels like I don’t matter enough for people to pay just the tiniest bit of attention – on my worst days. Other days, I just try hard to let it slide off. Amazing how painful one little letter can be.