The reddit page Am I The Asshole? remains one of the internet's most reliable resources for people coping with modern life's moral conundrums. This week, a young woman published a uniquely Irish problem on the Reddit page R/AITA, and it pertains to the correct pronunciation of Irish first names. We thought it was worth sharing on.
To fill in the backstory, the arsehole in question is a young Irishwoman living in the UK. She has cousins who grew up in Ireland who moved to the UK. Over Christmas, she was visiting her cousin Liam who has a young son said to be Oisín. It was the writer's first time meeting Oisín. It turns out, the two parties had wildly different ideas about how the name should be pronounced.
We went to the park, we met up with them, and I said "this must be Oisin". Liam asked why I said it like that. I asked what he meant. He said it's pronounced like "oi sin". Like hoisin sauce without the h. I tried to move past it, introduced my son, sent the boys off to play. Liam's wife asked about my son's name (also very Irish) and I told her. Liam joked that with all I know about Irish names, it was shocking that I'd mispronounced his son's name so badly. I said something like "I'm not the one mispronouncing it".
She adds that it was her first time meeting Oisín so she had never encountered her cousin's mispronunciation before. Not surprisingly, Oisín's parents were not delighted to be told they were pronouncing their own child's name incorrectly. The redditor, being Irish and right, also didn't feel inclined to back down, and now finds herself in the middle of a family drama, which you can read here.
— Am I the Asshole? (@AITA_online) December 28, 2020
The situation raises all kinds of moral quandaries. Should a family be able to a pronounce a name however they choose, or the rules of the Irish language mean names like Oisín or Roisín can only be pronounced in one way? The beauty of language is how malleable it is. Irish surnames have certainly been changed over and over again in America (as this writer can attest).
Still, this reminds us of 'St Patty's Day' farce that the Americans inflicted on us during past St Patrick's Day festivities. We feel the woman in question here had a duty to inform the parents of the mistake they were making. What they do with that information is their choice.
How do you see it?