What’s in a name? Well it depends how it’s spelt…

It’s safe to say I’m getting progressively crankier in my old age…I don’t deny this. There are a lot of day to day things that irritate me…some more than others, but there is one thing that never fails to get me seething just at the mere sight of it.

My name is Shaun Myburg. (Burg to my friends.)

I’ve always had a big problem with my name being spelt wrong. The most common mistake is Shaun being spelt wrong…or an extra “h” being thrown onto the end of my surname…when people assume I’m Afrikaans.

Sure it happens. It’s no big deal right?

Well, when your entire career (and future career) depends on the cachet of you name…it’s darn important.

Ever since I was a kid, I was lucky enough win competitions on a regular basis, which by proxy, meant my name appeared in magazines or newspapers for the whole country to see. I loved that feeling of seeing my name “in lights”…it always just felt right.

It was a naturally stepping stone for my name being on a byline or in film and TV credits. I was a star in the making…ok…ego aside, who doesn’t get a rush from seeing their name in print? After all, that’s why we all Google ourselves these days.

That being said…every time there was a misprint of my name in the paper, it was equally there for the world to see…

A double edged sword if any.

All through school, when certificates were handed out I loved seeing my name spelt in that almost-old-English-font for achievement in this or that. I cleaned house in primary school with certificates, but as High School came around and my personal life took a tumble, the certificates stopped coming.

In fact, through my 5 years of High School, there was only one certificate I ever got…however it was a big one.

You see, I had the pretty remarkable record of never missing a single day of school. EVER. Despite everything I went through, I always went to school.

So come the end on my 12 year schooling career, I was to be acknowledged for a PERFECT attendance record. Some may be impressed, and others may think it’s the nerdiest thing ever…well newsflash, there were only two of us who got that certificate, and neither of us were anywhere close to nerds.

At the awards evening, when my name was called, it was all slow motion as I walked up on stage to receive this mark of achievement. In my head there was a standing ovation, there were people chanting my name and there was a beautiful girl awaiting to hand me my award. Of course, none of those existed in reality, but there was that piece of paper that made it all worth it.

I collected it, flashed my million dollar smile to the paparazzi and made my way back to my seat.

Then it all came crashing down as I noticed not just my first name, but also my last name were spelt wrong on the certificate.

So my 12 years of schooling is perfectly captured in that incorrectly spelt certificate.

The years that followed had their moments of frustration.

Like this one time when I was working at a computer expo for my late cousin, and the name tag they had printed out for me read

Shawn Mabuna

Every person who came to my stand asked my about my strange surname (especially for a white guy living in South Africa…). Of course I spend the whole time explaining it was a major typo instead of actually getting any business for our company.

As I entered the corporate world, things became even more tense.

From computer login names to my email address, EVERY first day was met with an incorrect spelling of something or the other.

On the first day I starting working at one call centre, they had a digital display board that not just had the stats of how many calls were answered, holding and dropped, but also a welcome message for the new staff…which would have been cool if it didn’t read: “Welcome to new staff members Sahun Myburg”….I was called Sahun for the rest of that day.

When my film, TV and print career eventually took flight, I became even more pedantic about having my name spelt right. This was easier to manage as it’s an expected concern within these fields. And thank you lordy lord, my name is correctly spelt on IMDB!

In my current job, I’ve been here for 5 years, so there’s really no excuse for spelling my name wrong in emails.

It still happens though.
I hate it, and speak up about it, which probably makes people think “geez, relax guy its just a typo”…but after working with someone with 5 years, there’s really no excuse to spelling their name wrong in an email or document…right?

I’m very protective over my name…because one day I do believe it will be a brand. It may just be a pipe dream…but it’s really my most valued asset.

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3 Responses to “What’s in a name? Well it depends how it’s spelt…”

  1. Terry-Leigh Austin Says:

    I totally get what you are saying. Its so frustrating especially when you had a surname like Schwim that not only got spelt wrong most of the time but couldnt even be pronounced properly! Some cannot even get a simple name like Austin right. And lets not get started on my daughter’s name Kaleigh!!

  2. mikehawke Says:

    I hear you burg try saying my name with an american accent

  3. mikehawke Says:

    it makes sense now why you changed your name to `The Burg`

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