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I’ve been called names by many names. nachos nakama Not your mom. These weren’t malicious, but the inevitable result of a completely unknown, unpronounceable name.

Nachama (also spelled Nechama) is a fairly common Hebrew name meaning comfort. It comes from the same linguistic source as more well-known Hebrew names such as Menachem and Nechemiah (Nehemiah in English).

I’m not complaining. I was named after my maternal grandmother; an incredible woman who fled the Nazis via Shanghai and built a new life for herself in America. I never met my grandmother and my name carries great emotional significance.

And it’s certainly a conversation starter. People often ask where it comes from and what it means. Another perk: I don’t have to use my last name when introducing myself — like Beyonce or Madonna — because I know I’ll be the only nachama in the room.

Nikki Haley's name sparked debate on television
Former South Carolina Gov. Nikki Haley (R-SC) speaks during a campaign rally for Virginia gubernatorial candidate Glenn Youngkin (L) (R-VA) July 14, 2021 in McLean, Virginia.
Win McNamee/Getty Images

But I understand the landmine debate that plagues public figures like Nikki Haley – especially at this time when everything is grounds for political attack.

The former South Carolina governor and UN ambassador – and I’m happy to say a client of mine – is a proud daughter of Indian immigrants. She constantly references her upbringing in speeches and social media. She speaks openly about both the difficulties of growing up as an outsider in this country and the blessings that America offers her family.

None of this stops people from left and right attacking her because she doesn’t use her first name, Nimrata. On 09/20 The view‘s Sunny Hostin – who ironically doesn’t have her own birth name – attacked Haley for being “a chameleon” who ditched her first name.

“There are some of us who can be chameleons and choose not to embrace our ethnicity,” she said.

Meanwhile, racist trolls on the right often use “nimrata” to try to portray Nikki as un-American. All these people should have done their research. It turns out that “Nikki” is Nikki’s first name. It is a Punjabi name meaning ‘little one’ and is listed on her birth certificate. Nikki has been her name since she was a little girl – long before there was any political ambition.

But even if she didn’t, even if she chose a nickname to make her life a little easier, I can’t help but wonder: Who cares?

I work in a public role as a political spokesman. My name has been in hundreds of articles. I spend most of my life on the phone saying, “N for Nancy, A for apple, C for cookie, H for hat, A for apple, M for Mary, A for apple.”

Inevitably, the person on the other line says, “So that’s two Ns and three As?” and we have to start all over again. Throw in my last name and that’s another 10 minutes of my life I’ll never get back.

To make matters worse, Nachama is not only unusual, but also quite difficult to pronounce. The “ch” in Hebrew and Yiddish is not found in English, and many people cannot physically make this sound without sounding like coughing up a ball of fur. The Jewish website Oy!Chicago explains that the “ch” uses a part of the mouth not typically used in everyday American life: the uvula, or small flap of skin at the back of the tongue. Put simply, the website describes the sound as “backward snoring.”

I call myself “Nahama” at work. Not because I’m ashamed of my name, but because it makes my life and the lives of those around me easier. I just don’t have the time or energy to teach people how to snore backwards.

names are funny They can tell us a lot or not much at all about a person. In my case, my name tells you something about my ancestors and my religion. My last name — which means “little nightingale” in Russian — says something about the general geography of my paternal ancestor.

Nachama Soloveichik goes by the name of Nahama
Nachama Soloveichik (pictured) calls herself Nahama at work because it makes her life and the lives of those around her easier. Soloveichik says the attacks on former South Carolina Gov. Nikki Haley for using one of her first names instead of her first name, Nimrata, are shameful.
Nachama Soloveichik

But names can also be deceiving. It turns out that Soloveichiks as a clan – at least from my family! – are rarely small and not very good singers. To the uninitiated, my name is a mystery. My gender is not disclosed in it – in fact I receive many letters addressed to Mr. Nachama Soloveichik. And it can be a barrier for people who are speaking to me for the first time. I can tell they don’t mean to offend me but they have no idea how to say my name.

I’ve adopted a carefree attitude toward predictable clumsiness. I don’t insist on people pronouncing my name correctly or get upset if they inevitably don’t. If I did that, I’d be upset 80 percent of my life, and that seems like a bad life choice. I’ve been on radio shows where the host says, “[Butchered version of my name]am I pronouncing it right?” I just smile and say, “close enough.”

I’ve never experienced discrimination based on my known name, but I know this much: Launching a political attack based on someone’s name, be it Nikki Haley or Barack Obama, is petty and shameful. It taps into people’s worst instincts and can isolate and delegitimize. The vendors of these attacks would do well to note that they tell us a lot more about the people praising the attacks than they do about the intended target.

Nachama Soloveichik is a policy advisor and partner at ColdSpark. You can follow her on Twitter @nachamasol

All views expressed in this article are the author’s own. “My name is unpronounceable, The View’s attack on Nikki Haley was shameful”

“My name is unpronounceable, The View’s attack on Nikki Haley was shameful” – World Time Todays

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