Spring and Sofia

Now that we have officially entered spring in the northern hemisphere, I was going to make a short, sweet post to wish you all a happy spring and a happy Friday. However, at the end it won’t be so short and I’m blaming it on Mabel. You see I recently read her post on getting our names wrong, and that inspired me to write my own little ramble on the matter.

My name is Sofia and we can blame that on my parents. Just for the record, Sofia is my real name, I am not using a pseudonym on my blog.

I understand that my parents wanted to choose a Western and Spanish name, but that would be pronounced the same way as you would literally read it in Indonesia, just to make things easier for my relatives in Indonesia. Liking the name was also another requirement. I think they did I really good job on that one.

Thanks mum and dad, I really like my name. It sounds nice (more on that a little further on) and it has a cool meaning. The name Sofia originally comes form the Greek word Σοφíα and means wisdom.

My name may sound simple enough, but somehow it often manages to create confusion.

On spelling: the English version of Sofia is Sophia or Sophie, which is also the French version. When I am outside of Spain, everyone writes my name with a ph: Sophia.

Imagine this one time I’m making an appointment to get my hair cut. The hairdresser wrote: Sophia. I point out: it’s written with an f, not with a ph. They just look at me like they have no clue what I’m on about. So I say: you spell it: S-O-F-I-A. I slowly spell it out three times. They cross out what they wrote, then wrote: Sopfhia.


This is when I decide that they will not be giving me a haircut because if they can’t understand that, they might not understand when I tell them to do something like: cut as little as possible please, only about 2cm.

Anyhow, even though I didn’t like the Sopfhia episode, I really don’t mind at all when people spell my name Sophia or call me Sophie. That’s fine.

On pronunciation: the way to pronounce my name is like you would say Sophia. Yes, like with Sophia Loren. Exactly! But when I lived in the UK, for some reason people would call me something pronounced like this: Sofaya. As if I were a sofa with another ya in the end.

Imagine this scenario. I’m sitting in the doctor’s waiting room. Suddenly a nurse pops out and shouts: Sofaya. Initially I don’t budge, because that’s not my name. Sort of as if I were a dog, I don’t automatically respond to it when I hear it. But then the nurse says it a few more times. Damn, that’s me. Yeah people call me that sometimes and I hate it.

On plain confusion: while I don’t mind being spelt Sophia, called Sophie and I hate being called Sofaya, this one just leaves me perplexed. People have a tendency to call me Sonia or Sylvia.

I can understand that when I have just recently been presented to someone and they can’t remember. But it also occurs in my professional life when I write someone an email, I sign off writing Sofia. Just under that there will usually be my contact details with my name written again. If it’s a first contact I’ll begin by presenting myself as Sofia. There it is for them to see. Yet somehow 75% of the time people reply back saying hi Sonia or hi Sylvia.

What does your name mean? Does it ever cause confusion?

Anyhow, it has already officially been spring for a few days, and the sun has began to shine a little more than a few weeks ago. My daffodils are also a sign of spring. I know in some countries they can nearly be considered like a common weed, but for me they are beautiful flowers. I received my daffodils as a gift at the end of last spring. They withered away within two days. Even so I replanted the bulbs and watered them all year long. It was worth it. They sprouted and flowered.

Happy Friday and happy spring!

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  1. Guillermina Bósquez Stover 2014-03-28 at 23:26

    Oh, my goodness! My name…ah, yes, my name. I am Guillermina and of course the “GRINGOS” here in the U.S. of A. could not pronounce it. So when I went to school in first grade (which is when I STARTED to learn English), I went by Mina. Even Mina was messed up–some would call me Nina, or Minina, or Fina (my mother was Delfina and known as Fina)…oy vey! It wasn’t until I met my husband in 1994 that I STARTED to use my FULL NAME of Guillermina because he insisted on calling me by my REAL name. That’s one of the reasons I fell in love with him! But as a child I HATED my name! It wasn’t until i was close to puberty that I learned to love my name Guillermina because it was DIFFERENT, it set me apart. And I love being the center of attention! Guillermina is the Spanish version of the German Wilhelmina (William for males) and it means strength, helmet, warrior, willing to protect. I don’t know about the protect, but let me tell you, I am one strong cookie!!!

    1. Sofia // Papaya Pieces 2014-03-30 at 17:38

      What a great meaning you name has! The shortened version Mina is nice, but yes the full name with it’s meaning is strong and noble. I bet you’re one strong cookie, Guillermina. Abrazos!

  2. lapetitecasserole 2014-03-28 at 23:37

    My name is Margherita, it means daisy, but it seems originated from the Greek word “pearl”. Since when I’ ve moved to Canada I have a lot of problem to make people understand the correct spelling of my name. Mostly of the times it becomes Margarita, like the cocktail, but in reality my name is written exactly as the pizza!

    1. Sofia // Papaya Pieces 2014-03-30 at 17:42

      Your name is beautiful! In Spain they would shorten it to Marga, but I love the Margherita, the whole of it, because it does remind me beautiful daisies. I didn’t know it originated from the greek word pearl.

  3. Dalo 2013 2014-03-29 at 01:55

    The spelling of your name is very nice & since I am from the States, unique (usually it is Sophia…). With my name, so one messes it up much at all…pretty straight forward. I do remember as a young kid always wanting a different name (usually of whatever ‘sports hero’ I was admiring at the time 🙂

      1. Dalo 2013 2014-03-30 at 22:54

        Ha, ha… I look back and kind of laugh at this and the names, but I was just a young kid 🙂 The first ones that I remember was Bert (for Bert Jones, a quarterback) and “Train” (for Lionel “Train” Hollins, basketball player). 🙂

          1. Dalo 2013 2014-04-01 at 03:30

            Ha, ha…very much so, as many of my plans/thoughts I had when I was young were pretty idiotic 🙂

              1. Dalo 2013 2014-04-02 at 01:19

                Those are stories to be told over an Irish coffee 🙂

  4. Priya Kedlaya 2014-03-29 at 03:28

    Love your name Sofia – because of the way it sounds and because of the meaning. It’s a feminine, yet strong name. Nice daffodils too! Happy spring to you! 🙂

    Priya is the shortened version of my full first name (Priyadarshini) and Priya is a common name in India so people tend to spell it right. It’s also a common Bollywood name so people in the UK also tend to spell and pronounce it right! But sometimes I get people writing Prya or Pria or the worst Praya which I have no idea how they arrive at. Priya means something that is dear to you or something nice/good. And Priyadarshini means something that looks good/nice or, according to our mythologies it is an object that shows you what is dear to you. Phew! That’s all for today, folks! 🙂

    1. Sofia // Papaya Pieces 2014-03-30 at 17:44

      I think Priya is lovely as is it’s meaning, thanks for telling us all that! Thats why the bearer of the name is also really lovely! Have a wonderful Sunday xx

  5. Mabel Kwong 2014-03-29 at 10:29

    Hahaha! This is a hilarious post. When I first stumbled upon your blog, I had no qualms and was very confident that your name is pronounced “So-fee-ya” and not “Sofaya”. I think it’s because of the letter ‘f’ in your name, which made me go “ffff” 🙂 I pronounce “Sophia” the same way too. “Sofaya” I’ve only heard a handful of times in my life.

    It’s always amusing when people mispronounce or get our name entirely wrong. I think some people can’t bring themselves to go through all the effort to pronounce a name that is foreign to them. It can be just pure laziness. In Spanish, my name Mabel is pronounced “Mah-bell” 😀

    1. Sofia // Papaya Pieces 2014-03-30 at 17:47

      Hehe oh I’m so glad you would pronounce my name as it is 🙂 Thats right, in Spain they would say Mah-bell 🙂

  6. Spanish Kitchenette (@spanishkitchene) 2014-03-29 at 10:33

    My real name is pretty simple although doesn’t my surname. I always ALWAYS have to spell it one all over again and, even so, they still write it wrong! Conclusion: we should have be reaaaaaaally patient 🙂

    1. Sofia // Papaya Pieces 2014-03-30 at 17:49

      You have a point there, I didn’t go into the details of the fact that my second surname (as we use in Spain) is Indonesian… yep, patience with that one!

  7. Amanda 2014-03-29 at 21:31

    Lovely post. I love when you examine the very diverse roots you came from. I think Sofia is a pretty name. I knew a British girl names Sofaya and it was very confusing.

    1. Sofia // Papaya Pieces 2014-03-30 at 17:48

      I found it confusing, and when people called me that I was always wondering were on earth did THAT come from??

  8. pianolearner 2014-03-30 at 18:24

    I did wonder how to pronounce your name the wrong pronunciation of your name is a common variation over here. It comes from the fact that there are so many ways to spell the same sound. Also on the continent the letter i is pronounced the same as the letter e is in the UK, whereas over here i is said the same as the word ‘eye’. Different syllables can be stressed too, so many people say the sof-i-a with the English pronunciation of the i being stressed. this makes the ia rhyme with fire instead of fear.
    But everything in English is confusing, because fear rhymes with gear but doesn’t ryhme with bear. And of course bear can be spelt bare, which sounds identically but means something completely different. It must be such a tricky language to learn, we are lucky that we got introduced to it young.

    My name has an i in it which is always changed by European non-english speakers to a j or often a y. They even spell it with a j in email replys from me where I spell it with an i. I guess they think I spell my own name wrong.

    1. Sofia // Papaya Pieces 2014-03-30 at 18:35

      Thanks for your input on that! Yes, lots of spellings and pronunciations are confusing in English. There was an instance when I was working in different pharmacies when I was there, and I would get a phone call and be told to go to work the next day in (whatever) town. I’d look on the map, and sometimes would have to call back asking how do you spell the name of the place, I really can’t find it on the map. Usually when that happened, the spelling looking NOTHING like the way they pronounced it!
      Mr. H. also has an i in his name, like you, and non-French speakers also get awfully confused with it.

      1. pianolearner 2014-03-30 at 18:47

        There’s another complication to it in the UK, which is a class thing. So that many upper class names and places are pronounced nothing like they are spelt. such as Belvior, which is pronounced beaver. Or brilliantly Featherstone-hough, which is actually pronounced fanshaw! which I’m sure is a way of the landed gentry working out who is upper class, and who is one of the plebs….

        1. Sofia // Papaya Pieces 2014-03-30 at 18:48

          hahaha or the other lot of confused ones from Australia (who must surely be considered lower class POMs) 😉

  9. oppie83 2014-03-30 at 22:20

    Oh my that is hilarious..i even didnt think how to pronounce your name other than so-fee-ya..People are weird! Lol. I always think your name is elegant. I like it. My name is Novi which is a mundane name in Indonesia. But when I lived in Germany the Germans called me Noo-wee instead of No-fee. I didnt mind it though 🙂

  10. Pemberley Cup & Cakes by Rosa 2014-03-31 at 20:46

    Firstly, I love daffodils! They remind me of my time in Scotland, when I was a student. Springtime was simply beauty!
    I’d never have thought that your name, Sofia (BTW, a name I really like!), could be that tricky. Wow! :O
    Mine seems quite harmless too, but together with my first surname (Lillo, which is quite common where I am from), it sometimes causes a good deal of confusion (especially on the phone): Rosarillo, Rosalirio, Rosario… The list is endless… In the end, I decided to include the initial of my middle name, M for Maria, so that people didn’t merge Rosa + Lillo any more 😉
    Great post, Sofía <3

    1. Pemberley Cup & Cakes by Rosa 2014-03-31 at 20:49

      I forgot to add a great one! When I introduce myself, it sounds like Bond, James Bond. I usually say, Rosa, Rosa Lillo, so that everybody grasps the difference between first name vs surname 😉

  11. apartmentwife 2014-03-31 at 23:04

    oh goodness, i have the opposite problem – jennifer, jen, jenni – gah! say my name and every single person turns around. it’s common enough that it never gets spelled incorrectly, but i wish there was something more unique to it 🙂

  12. laurasmess 2014-04-02 at 08:29

    Ha, I love this! My name was chosen by my parents because it’s old English and relatively short, simple, etc. My mother thought it couldn’t be shortened (as she hates how Australians shorten names). So… that said, I get called ‘Loz’ and Law” and “Lozza” all the time over here! Most people can spell it correctly but a few spell it ‘Lora’ which is a spelling variation that I don’t mind… but then I get ‘Lauren’, ‘Lorah’, ‘Flora’, argh! As for going overseas? I mostly get the variation “Lawra” which you would be familiar with in Spain! It seems to be common in Italy, Uruguay/Latin America etc. I like it 🙂 Sorry you have such trouble with your name though, weird! I didn’t think it was that difficult! xx

    1. Sofia // Papaya Pieces 2014-04-08 at 16:10

      Really, I can’t imagine Laura being shortened because its already short, and Laura sounds so lovely, I think it shouldn’t be shortened to anything : Mine gets shortened to Sophie (and Sofi in Spain) or even Sof.
      Oh yes the Lawra version is what you would be called in Spain. It seems that we all have bits of confusion here and there with our names! xx


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