by Kathy Cannon Wiechman
Growing up as Kathy Cannon, I didn’t hear my name mispronounced or misspelled. “Cannon like the gun,” I said.
I first met Jim Wiechman when I was 13, and he pronounced his name WEEK-MUN. (My German grandma said the rule is to pronounce the second vowel—IE sounds like E. Actually, German rule would pronounce it VEEK-MUN with W pronounced like a V and that guttural K sound like coughing up a fur ball.)
WIKE-MUN is what I usually hear. People who have known me on a first-name basis for many years still think my last name is pronounced that way.
A few years after we’d met, Jim began pronouncing his name WEECH-MUN (CH as in church). I asked why he changed it. He said his two brothers had changed it, and since they would pass on the family name, he felt they should be consistent. No problem. But of course, that was before I knew it would become MY name.
I didn’t learn until much later that Jim’s brother’s first wife is the one who changed it to follow American phonetic rules. I also learned that some of Jim’s sisters resented the change.
Had I known, I’d have happily been a WEEK-MUN. But by the time I learned the story of the change, Jim and I had been married for 25 years and had four children, and we’d called ourselves WEECH-MUN all that time. It was too late to change it back.
Friends have suggested I write under my maiden name to make it easier, but I’m proud to be Jim’s wife, and Wiechman has been my last name more than twice as long as it was Cannon. I’m also proud to be a Cannon, so I use both names. If you’re confused, don’t worry about it. As Shakespeare said, “What’s in a name?”