The art of the misspelling

My name is Emanuele D’Osualdo. I know what you are thinking, and I do not blame you. Actually, let me get this straight from the start:

I hereby forgive you, fully and pre-emptively, for misspelling or mispronouncing my name or surname.

Yes, my name is long and complicated (although it has been pointed out to me that Polish names can be orders of magnitude more complicated), but in fact I am always amused from the strange misspellings I collected during the years.

Before going into that, if you are wondering about the pronunciation, here is my name pronounced correctly:

Misspellings of D’Osualdo

My surname is weird even to Italian ears. Common misspellings include:

  • D’Osvaldo (Osvaldo is an old-fashioned Italian name)
  • D’Osvualdo (if you are not sure, put both)
  • D’Osvivaldo (strangely reminiscent of Vivaldi)
  • Gesualdo (another Italian composer!)
  • D’Osulado
  • d’odusldo
  • Dosualvo
  • Dosvalbo
  • Dosvlaudo — or something like this where it is clear that the one who typed it simply gave up after three letters
  • d’Osualdo or just Osualdo — I get this a lot in Germany, where they seem to interpret the “D’” as an optional decoration. Main drawback: I may be listed under “O” in alphabetic order!
  • New entry: Dr. Oswaldo — that’s how Germans tend to pronounce it.

The apostrophe

A separate category of misspellings concerns the apostrophe: we are in 2016 and still computer systems systematically stumble when dealing with my surname. The apostrophe is to an online form what a mouse is to an elephant.

Sometimes it is simply rejected, sometimes the apostrophe gets removed with arbitrary fixes such as replacing it with a space or removing the character altogether. And these are the good cases. In others it simply makes the system fail because of improper handling of user-provided data. Yes I am Little Bobby Tables!

Exploits of a mom (xkcd.com)

In fact it is the apostrophe in my surname that made me independently come up with my first SQL-injection exploit. Good times.

In Germany the problem is aggravated by the fact that the German language uses the apostrophe very rarely, so people just use the acute accent symbol ` instead, which is more easily found on keyboards!

And then there’s my first name.

The curse of Emmanuelle

To make things worse, my first name, Emanuele, lends itself to all sorts of ambiguities and misspellings. The list of similar, but distinct, names is long: Emmanuele, Emmanuelle, Emanuelle, Manuel, Manuele, Manuelle… To those you have to add the misspellings (once I got Emanuale). Pronunciation is a further issue: at best I get something that resembles manual, at worst I get some irrecognisable mash of ms, ns and ls.

The funniest story around my first name comes from my Erasmus in Turkey. I arrive in Istanbul and go to my hostel. They ask for my ID, start transcribing the data…when they stop at the name and start giggling. Ok, fine, it’s a strange name, whatever, just give me the keys of the room. After some rest, I go back to the reception and the guy starts giggling again after seeing me. Uh, ok, weird. I explore the surroundings, go back to the hostel. Now the receptionist is with a friend and as soon as I show up he says my name in a very refined attempt to signal to his friend that “This is the guy I told you about”. Ok, guy from the reception, I confront you: what’s so funny?!? «Well…you know…when I was little…there was this, uhm, “movie”, you know the ones that they play late at night…it was called Emmanuelle. Every Turk knows it!» This is true, apparently “Emmanuelle” was a popular erotic movie from the seventies. Except:

THE MALE ITALIAN NAME EMANUELE
IS NOT
THE FEMALE FRENCH NAME EMMANUELLE

Beside the spelling and the different language, the pronunciation is completely different. Of course to Turkish ears the two are indistinguishable. With obvious repercussions on my introductions:

- «Hello I am Murat»
- «Nice to meet you, I am…MANU»
[Friend who knew me from before]
- «“Manu”? No…tell him your full name!»

Yes, every time I introduced myself to a male Turkish guy I got the giggles back!