My name doesn't spell as it is spoken

badmood

New Member
French, Cantonese
Hello,

This is to ask about this very simple message in proper English.

Context:

(1) My name doesn't spell as it is spoken; there is a [...] here that has no equivalent in your language. It's all right if you mispronounce it when you say it, but I'd rather you have it right when you write it, otherwise, I woudn't be able to recognise it.
(2) My name spells differently from how it is spoken: there is a [...] here that has no equivalent in your language. It's all right if you mispronounce it when you say it, but I'd rather you have it right when you write it, otherwise, I woudn't be able to recognise it.
(3) ...(other way to convey the message?)
 
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  • joanvillafane

    Senior Member
    U.S. English
    Hi badmood - we can't use "spell" as a transitive verb, as you did in your sentences.
    I'd probably say one of these:
    My name is spelled differently from how it's pronounced.
    My name is pronounced differently from how it's spelled.
     

    badmood

    New Member
    French, Cantonese
    Thank you very much!

    I think I heard some native English speakers saying "it spells differently" but that's certainly because it doesn't have any object indeed, or because, when "it's spelt differently" is spoken fast, it might be heard like /itspElsdIfr'ntli/... :)

    Moreover, I think I've been mislead by the comedy sketch a bit of Fry and Laurie "Your name Sir" on the BCC in which the policeman says: "Fry: Hyphen E, in my book it spells “nipple”, it does not spell (drop). Laurie: Have you gone mad? [...]"

    In that case, "spell" seems to have a transitive object.
     
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    london calling

    Senior Member
    UK English
    My name isn't written as it is spoken is another possibility (and also happens to be the one which comes to me more naturally).

    Regards 'spell' with an object. We do use spell to mean 'signify/mean' with an object, see this headline from CNBC.com, I quote:

    Do Houston's oil troubles spell danger for the Texas economy?

    This is how Stephen Fry is using it above.
     

    dojibear

    Senior Member
    English - Northeast US
    I think I heard some native English speakers saying "it spells differently"
    A word or name cannot be the subject of the verb "to spell" in any form. If the people were speaking correctly, they would say one of these:

    It is spelled differently: K-Z-A-A
    You spell it differently: K-Z-A-A
    It goes like this: K-Z-A-A

    Saying "It spells differently: K-Z-A-A" is a mixture of those. And it sounds like good grammar. And it makes complete sense.
     

    GreenWhiteBlue

    Senior Member
    USA - English
    My name isn't written as it is spoken is another possibility (and also happens to be the one which comes to me more naturally).
    It doesn't sound at all natural to me. I would speak of the way my name is said, or pronounced, but not spoken, any more than I would say to someone "How do you speak your name?" rather than "How do you say your name."
     
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