According to Google, Facebook, and the rest of the Internet, there are several fellows with the same name as me roaming this Earth. Many Michaels Werneburg. At least two are Americans. There's also a motorcycle enthusiast in Austria. And three or four different Germans including an artist.
The name is German, of course, and arose from the Thüringer Wald, a hilly forest (or forested hills?) in the country's current geographic center. The name "Werneburg" apparently started out as "Berneburg", which rose from a town named "bear town" in Germany. The name came to be spelled "Werneburg" instead of "Berneburg" because in German, the "w" is pronounced with a 'veh' sound, and 'v' and 'b' are of course quite close (as we'll see below).
As names go, something dating back to the 12th century isn't bad. In German its vowel sounds have a nice round quality and the "r"s are slightly rolling. It's the non-German pronunciation and spelling that are the problems. I've had trouble with English-speakers mutilating the name all my life. Here's a sample.
Okay, this one doesn't really count, because spell-checking software is .. stupid.
The fellowdimwit who ran the storage outfit in Vancouver addressed me as "Mr. Whatever-it-is", then broke into a digression that suggested I use the name 'Green' to avoid confusion. Another time he called me up asking for "Mr. Werne"; when I told him my actual name, he apologized and hung up.
An unsuccessful job applicant made this most surprising stab at my name. Uccemebug (pronounced Oo'chemebug) became my nickname for a while; I still use it as an alias on various websites.
EnergyAustralia had this. Imagine that one said with an Aussie accent!
In the late 90's, Toronto Hydro (what is it with these power companies!) thought that this was how my name was spelled. Honestly, couldn't they recognize a typo when they saw it?? Or did they think I'd adopted some faux-fashionable web 1.0 name?
Huh? Did the girl at the film counter in Calgary really think someone's name would be spelled that way? Or is this a statement of true apathy. "Whoops, fat-fingered that one .. ah, screw it."
Curiously, this is a constant problem. I don't understand the shift from 'er' to 'ei', but English-speakers are ready to do it at the drop of a hat. In the 80's, one of my teachers even asked if I were related to Casper Weinberger!
Even Google liked to get into the act. This screenshot was made in 2004 when I was looking up a "Werneberg".
This was the name under which I was configured in an employer's Active Directory server. It meant that every document I created had that name tucked away inside it, as did every email I put 'round for the first few hours. Three spelling mistakes in one name.
Geez Louise. I think this person spelled my name this way on purpose, in the 'comments' section of this site. Back when I got comments, that is.
Okay, I'm not crystal clear when I speak....
This is a particularly common one. I've seen coworkers, friends, even my business partner do this.
Nope. Maybe you're looking for my neighbour Beezle?
This is an amusing one, and not too uncommon when I've spelled it to someone on the phone. I suppose if your last name is something like Ford or Chin, Wernegurg's as good as Werneburg....
I had a fun minute with this one, wondering if I'd be able to cash the cheque from the twits who'd spelled my name this way. The bank accepted it, and didn't miss a beat on trying to up-sell "Mr. Wernerbug" some services.
Another amusing mis-spelling I come across from time to time. Of course, it's the famous 'v' to 'b' transwhatever that changed the original name pronounced Berneburg to Verneburg.
This is about the only one I actually find irritating. Do we really need an extra syllable?
Reported by my brother, who shares the struggle.
My mum told me that they received mail for 'Whirlybird' in the 70s.
This was supposedly the way that the itinerant workers on our farm thought our name was spelled. I like this one, it reminds me of the AI Wintermute from a novel by William Gibson.
My health-benefits-insurance firm thinks my son's last name is "Wernebury" despite having my name correct in their files.
Wait, that's the right spelling! What was amazing about a recent item of snail mail that arrived was that "Werneburg" was practically the only thing they got right in the entire address sticker. They had "Slingagala" instead of "Shinagawa" for the city name, then tried again with "Sunugawa" which is particularly amusing because it is the same word repeated in my address. They also got the postal code wrong .. and yet the mail arrived.
So much for the humorous typos and other oddities that English-speakers have come up with. But if I thought it was a hassle dealing with English-speakers, I learned that it could be far worse when I moved to Japan. The saga continues at loneleeplanet.com (local copy), where I contributed an article on the subject.