You know the problem. You call to reserve a table, or to book a ticket, or to arrange a haircut, and they ask you your name.
It only has six letters. B-A-R (pause) T-L-E. How hard can that be to write down? Yet why is it that when you arrive at the restaurant, the airport or the barber's, you just know they're expecting a BARTLEY or a BARTLES or a BARTON?
Being there in person doesn't help either. I was in a
photo shop dropping off a film to be processed and the
guy wrote down BARTEL.
I took my elder daughter to the optician's for the first time to have her
eyes tested. The woman wrote down BARTOE.
BARTOE was particularly annoying because it isn't a real name at all, whereas BARTLE (obviously) is. Sadly, this was not an isolated incident. A few years ago, for example, there was a well-known professonal footballer with the surname BIRTLES, so naturally for a while I regularly found myself in "No, BARTLE, not BIRTLES" mode. BIRTLES is an uncommon name (there's only one in my local phone book), but at least it's a name. BIRTLE has no entries at all in my phone book, unsurprisingly as it's a very rare name (at least in England - there were only 183 of them in the 1881 census). That doesn't stop people preferring to believe that BIRTLE my surname even when I just spelled out B-A-R-T-L-E. What gives here?!
Sometimes, it's just an unhappy series of coincidences that leads to a mutation of the name. I once arrived at a computer factory in California to see a large board reading, "Welcome Dr Bartoo from England". The chap who had invited me was originally from Hong Kong, and although he himself wrote the name down correctly his phone call to the front desk was not received by someone attuned to Chinese accents.
For your grim satisfaction, here are some of the variations on the BARTLE name I've collected over the years from people who have moments earlier been told how to spell it correctly. It's probably not complete (I'd forgotten the horribly familiar BARTLET until my wife reminded me), but it's quite extensive nevertheless. I've included possible explanations for most of the entries.
Grit your teeth: some of these are painful...
Here are some others recorded by Andrew Bartle:
Here are a couple from Ian Foster that he found while looking at transcripts of official registers in the course of genealogy research:
I'm sure that while many of these miscarriages of nomenclature will be all-too familiar to fellow BARTLEs, there will be those among you who have even more bizarre examples of jaw-dropping ignorance on the part of members of the general public. If you do have any such additional variations that can't be attributed to either your own mis-pronunciation or someone else's mis-hearing, please let me know and I'll add them to the list.
Copyright © Richard A. Bartle.