Saturday, January 18, 2014

My Sister Heinie

My Sister Heinie

Well that settles it! For years, even within the family, there was always confusion about what her name really was. Was it Hanna, or Hannah, or more formally Johanna. The latter seemed to make the most sense to me because she is after all the daughter of Johann. Not only that, but Johanna is a more proper German name than Hanna.

It's kinda too late to settle the matter anyways 'cause mom an' dad are now gone an' far as I know, they didn't leave any record. My money is on Johanna anyways, but then you never know for sure.

Havin' said all that, there's people in this world who have a tough time pronouncin' names that ain't of their own culture, although it seems to be gettin' better these days with all them foreign names showin' up. You figure if you pronounce it for them they'll get the hang of it, but no, that never happens. Seems they got their own way of gettin' their tongues around sylables an' their ain't no changin' it. Let me explain it first so's you get the idea. Hanni, as we call her, is pronounced H-ah-knee, like when the doctor sticks that popsicle stick in your mouth an' you gotta say “ah”. Most non-European folks would say H-aw-nee like ball or fall which, if you're a stickler for pronunciation, is a pain in the Heinie. It just grates on the nerves.

And therein lies the rub. Yeah, that's another thing; in the German language, Heinie is an endearing shortening of the name Heinrich – mainly used on young boys. In English it means something entirely different of course.

A couple of weeks ago my sister Hanni blew into town to stay with her older sister who lives in a large senior's complex. It's quite a place where they serve meals an' have lots of stuff for old folks to do. Apparently she had a great time except at meals. Their table mate is a little set in her ways and is one of them people who has the afore mentioned problem with name pronunciation. As you've probably guessed by now, she calls my sister Heinie, of all names. After a number of exasperating tries to correct the mispronunciation, my sister came up with the idea to re-name herself Hannah. I don't for the life of me know if it worked or not, but she somehow got through the ordeal.

The cardinal sin in this is to have mentioned it to her nasty an' fun lovin' brother. Considerin' all the ramifications of the little adventure I came up with some various scenarios. On the one hand, she is the last of our family and came into this world at the tail end of it. That's a thought. And – over the last seventy – odd years, there have been times here and there where she has acted like, or been considered as a complete Heinie. Mind you, that's no different than the rest of us. Or, on the other hand, she could consider herself named in honor of her Onkel Heinrich, rest his soul.

All things considered, I don't think that's got anything to do with anything. After all these years I'm sure she don't give a rip about what she's called as long as she ain't called late for dinner. What grates on her is the mispronunciation of the word. In our family we got this thing about when we hear a word being said wrong, it's like runnin' your fingernail acrost a blackboard or singin' off key. It's downright infuriatin'. But I'll tell you what. Heinie is one o' them names that's goin' to stick from here on in. So I guess I got me a brand new sister called Heinie. At least that's how it seems to me from up here on the top shelf.

Just sayin'.

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