Monday, October 10, 2011

Robison, not Robison!

When I was fifteen, my mother sat me down and told me that when I grew up, I should change my last name. From what it was, to, oh, anything else. I was horrified. I assured her that I would never change my last name. I have kept it ever since. But you know what? My mother had a point.

My last name is hard to pronounce, and hard even to imagine. It is: Robison. There’s no ‘n’ in the middle! It’s not Robinson. And it is not pronounced Rahbison, either. The first ‘o’ is long.

When my mother, in middle age, entered graduate school, the bursar looked at her name on her papers and said, “You do mean Robinson, don’t you?”

When I explained to my friends in teenage camp that there was only one n in my last name, they called me Robinso.

Today, I watched my doctor speak into a microphone to record the results of my visit. This is the 21st century, so he was talking to a speech-to-text system, not just making an audio recording. As you know, speech-to-text logic is not exactly perfect, and sometimes he had to stop, delete some words, and speak again. The first time he mentioned my name, he said, “Mr. Robison ... delete ... Rahbison...”
“It’s Robison!” I said.
He looked at me apologetically. “I have to say Rahbison or the computer will spell it wrong,” he said.

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