Four Little Letters

I’ve never liked my name. Never liked the sound of it.

I pronounce it Erma, and many people try to write it that way. But it takes an I, an I that actually sounds like an E, as in eerma. But even then, it’s not correct for it lacks the trill, eerrrrma.

It’s a wonder how four little letters can be so misconstrued.

In many families, a name appears more than once. My mother and her only sister were both name Maria, with different middle names. But no one in the family had my name. I wondered if that was because nobody wanted it. Not until I married did I end up related to another Irma, with the same last name to boot.

Growing up, I didn’t give my name much thought. I figured I was bound to it regardless of how I felt. It wasn’t til I began searching for names for my own children that I wondered about my own name’s significance.

According to this site, and several others I’ve searched, it’s German, Spanish, English, among others. I wonder now if that’s what prompted me to study German in high school, though back then I had no clue as to its origin.

Its meaning, whole, universal, gives me pause.That is such a responsibility!

But I suppose I am whole and universal to my family, my children. The youngest of which was to be named Amelia, so that all would have names starting with A, and be written the same in English and Spanish.

Alas, when my husband called his father to tell him of her birth, his father heard “Emilia,” which was the name of his recently deceased mother. I grumbled, but didn’t have the heart to tell him he was wrong and disappoint him by refusing to name her after Grandma. I caved, and my baby’s name soon was shortened to Emma.

Emma was quick to make herself known as a focused overachiever and when she reached high school she insisted on studying German. She disregarded my pleas to study Spanish, as I could help her with that language. I’d never told her that I had studied German myself, since by then the only words I still recalled were mach schnell, hurry up.

Nonetheless, she hurried up through high school and went on to university to fulfill my unrealized, but unbeknownst to her, dream of studying journalism. It turned out my little Emma was another me, but better. And I’m not in the least surprised to learn that the name Irma is related to the name Emma.