Surreal surnames

The unknown background of unique Falcon last names


Sarah Bernick

Freshman Brianna Aleksiejczyk shrugs her shoulders as she is no longer bothered by the questions or mispronunciations of her surreal surname.

Sarah Bernick, Reporter

Something we’ve all seen, something we all hear, something we all struggle to pronounce… Last names are part of a title that every person has, whether we like them or not. We’ve all seen our names in the yearbook, or on the attendance list, but have you ever looked at someone else’s last name and wondered how to pronounce it, or even the background behind it?

These names are something many people take pride in. Whether it’s the uniqueness of it, or having a fun nickname to shorten, last names can be the start to getting to know incredible new friends.

You’re sitting in class, the teacher is reading off the attendance list and suddenly pauses. You realize the teacher is trying to pronounce a last name without completely butchering it. He/She gives it their best, but unfortunately say it wrong. You sharpley turn to see your fellow classmates’ reactions. Are they laughing? Do they try to correct the teacher? Wait, who’s last name is this?

Freshman Brianna Aleksiejczyk can strongly relate to this scenario.

“My last name is mispronounced constantly, always, everyday,” Aleksiejczyk said. “I usually just let it go, but if they ask if this is how it’s said, then I tell them.”

She explained how most people just call her “ABC” or “Alphabet” since it’s easier for people to say and she doesn’t mind going by this nickname anyways.

Don’t worry, we were only four letters down the alphabet when we came to another interesting last name. The teacher stutters to say the name and then stops. This time he/she is interrupted by a classmate yelling out the correct way to say his/her friend’s last name. The class turns to the girl who doesn’t seem to be fazed by the mispronunciation. Who might this girl be?  

Freshman Kylie Duyvejonck is no longer bothered by people mispronouncing her last name because it has been a common occurrence.

“At this point I don’t really care anymore. It’s a different last name so I understand and I don’t care that much. Most of my coaches just call me ‘Duvey’ for short,” Duyvejonck said. “My sister plays basketball so when they called her for the spring kick off let’s just say it did not go well.”

Another freshman familiar with this type of scenario is Katie Giebelstein.

“You grow used to it after awhile, but if you’re in a new class and they mispronounce it and you have to correct them, it kind of makes you embarrassed,” Giebelstein said. “My last name is German and it means stone tablet but there’s way too long of a story that goes with it. People make fun of it a lot. Some people call me a ‘Gerbalstein’ on purpose or Frankenstein.

There was a time back in second grade when Giebelstein couldn’t even pronounce her own last name, so then her teacher attempted to pronounce it. She then explained to her teacher that she didn’t even know how to pronounce her own last name. The teacher ended up calling her mom so she could learn how to correctly say it. Her teacher then tried to teach Katie, her own last name. Giebelstein described this as being a “huge mess.”

A fair amount of people often take offense or get upset with the mispronunciation of their name. Junior Elijah Yzaguirre is not one of these people. He echoes these sentiments, but takes these pronunciation mishaps with a humorous stride.

“I usually laugh when people mispronounce my last name and then they ask me to pronounce it, and I say ‘no.’ Most of the time I just let it go and let people say it how they want to. My football and soccer team like to call me ‘Tido’,” Yzaguirre said. “My great grandpa, where I got my last name from, was part of the mafia in Texas and he died from a shooting.”

With names like these, people can always live interesting lives; however, their lives might just be interrupted by the mispronunciation of their surreal surnames.

“Even though my last name is a lot to write down, I wouldn’t change it even if I could because of how different and unique it is” Aleksiejczyk said.