Sarah, With an “H”

Last Wednesday, I experienced an existential crisis. Well, technically, it was an “H” essential crisis, one to which Sarahs everywhere can relate.

People often leave the “h” off the end of my name. I get that there are two ways to spell Sarah, I’ve said it before, but because that’s true, it shouldn’t take that much effort to make sure you’ve spelled my name right. ALSO, I would argue,* the more common way to spell Sarah is with an “h”, so that should be the default spelling. For real, it’s in the Bible and the dictionary, and if God AND Webster want it spelled that way, who can argue with that?

Pasted from the website baby names hub:**

A few facts about the girl’s name Sarah:

  • Records indicate that 1,049,376 girls in the United States have been named Sarah since 1880.
  • The greatest number of people were given this name in 1982, when 28,456 people in the U.S. were given the name Sarah.

So, there have been over a million people named Sarah in the United States since 1880. Even if half of them are dead already, there are still half a million people named Sarah. And according to the graph (also pasted from the website),

Popularity Over Time: How Many Girls Have Been Named Sarah

This chart illustrates how many Girls were named Sarah in the U.S. since 1880.

Most of those people named Sarah were born in the past 40ish years and the most people named Sarah born in a single year were born the same year I was.*** Now I AM having an existential crisis. This is all to say: Sarah is a really popular name and Sarah (with an h) is by far the more popular spelling.

And yet.

I’d understand if I spelled my name “Sera” or “Cera” or “Sahra” with a silent “h” in the middle. Just like if you spell your name “Erick” or “Jaysen” or “Emilie,” “Emmaleigh,” or “Emylee” you should expect that your name is going to be misspelled.***** I’d also understand if people misspelled my name after hearing it (not reading it) and were just guessing.

You could argue they are leaving the “h” off because it’s easier for me to write it in if it’s supposed to be there and they’re playing it safe. Or maybe they’re forgetful. Maybe they think, “It’s the same name, right?” No. No, it is not.

It may be one of the above reasons, but it’s hard not to imagine that they’re just lazy and inconsiderate, because (being on the receiving end of such oversight) I’m extra sensitive about making sure I spell someone’s name right. Even Kaytlynn and Mykel.******

By far the worst offenders are the people who respond to an email that I have sent signing off with my name “Sarah,” from my email address WHICH IS MY FULL NAME and they spell it incorrectly. Which is what happened Wednesday, thus launching the (long ago) aforementioned “h” essential crisis. I emailed someone to give him a heads up about something and he responded to someone without an “h.” I cropped and blurred it because the message is irrelevant and I didn’t want to give away his contact info, but this is most of it:

Sara v. Sarah: the ultimate battle

Sara v. Sarah: the ultimate battle

I emailed him back saying: That’s great, and just FYI, my name’s spelled with an “h.” And his response was, “Oh, I must not have seen that.” I like this guy, but seriously? I’ve highlighted all the places in the email he could have seen how my name is spelled, including and most especially MY EMAIL ADDRESS. He’s an (otherwise) very conscientious guy, and I don’t mean to call him out publicly (I mean, he thanked me twice in one email, which is really nice), but still. Someone I supervised named Erin used to do this and I finally wrote her back misspelling her name Aaron. Because, it’s the same name, right? She stopped after that, and thankfully she never asked me for a letter of recommendation because I wouldn’t have been able to put “great attention to detail.”

To be fair to the guy from the email, I may have been extra sensitive, because a couple of hours prior to the above email, this happened:

Sharat. Jimmy Johns

For those of you who can’t read the Jimmy Johns wrapper, it says “Sharat.” I”m pretty sure I typed in “Sarah T” –in numerous places–since they let me put a name on the different menu items when I placed my order online, and I’m the one who paid for it AND in the instructions I wrote “Have the receptionist call Sarah T” because we have five Sara(h)s in my office (two Saras and three Sarahs). The only thing I can imagine happened was someone told the sandwich maker to write “Sarah with an h T” for the name, because frequently I’ve had my name misspelled “Shara”******* when I say “It’s Sarah with an ‘h’,” so I have to remember to say, “Sarah with an ‘h’ at the end.” And then people look at me weird, like, Where else would you put it? 

I looked up “Shara” on the baby names hub, and turns out there have been 2,224 people named Shara born in the U.S. since 1880 and most of them were born in 1979, when 233 people born in the U.S. were given that name. I imagine at least a few times, this was the result of the mother saying “Sarah with an ‘h'” right after giving birth and then not being able to edit the birth certificate, but maybe I’m wrong.

I know I’ll have to deal with the misspelling of my name forever, and I’m typically much more easygoing when it happens because it’s (usually) an innocent mistake. Even though I love being a Sarah, having a very common name makes me feel unoriginal and unremarkable sometimes, and then to have it spelled wrong twice in one day in two different interactions and for different reasons made me feel small.

Maybe I should just be happy they’ve corrected the misspelling of my last name on my mailbox at home, which previously read “Turrner.”

*and have

**They don’t capitalize, so I didn’t either.

***Weirdly enough, when I looked up “Sara” on the same website, I found out 412, 356 people have been named Sara in the United States since 1880, and the greatest number of people were given this name the same year my friend Sara was born.**** Too weird! ALSO, and perhaps weirder, 1,271 males have been named Sarah in the U.S. since 1880, with most of those (146) being born in 1989, and almost all of them being born in the 1980s.

****I didn’t want to age her by posting the year.

*****And that you will be mocked.

******I typed “common names spelled weird” in Google and got this website. Enjoy!

*******Or Sahra or Sarha


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About Sarah in Small Doses

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4 responses to “Sarah, With an “H””

  1. Sarah in Small Doses says :

    Had we anticipated the “controversy” naming you Sarah would create, I would have pushed for something less “confusing” like Jorrdenn or Frannscene. Sorry 😦

  2. Becky Graf says :

    Love love love this!!
    From 9th grade …. A blast from the past
    Hugs, Becky Graf

    • Sarah in Small Doses says :

      Ms. Graf! I was thinking of 9th grade English the other day, talking to a high school English teacher about what we read in your class. I still remember Romeo & Juliet, a poem about the Japanese-American internment camps, and the grammar packet, which has served me well in writing. I hope things are going well in your neck of the woods. Happy New Year!

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