Cheri Speak

Is this mic on?

Name That Loon

Would you know how to say my name if you have never heard it and only seen it spelled-out on paper or a screen?

Today’s “DailyPrompt” asks,

“Do you know the meaning of your name, and why your parents chose it? Do you think it suits you? What about your children’s names?”

First Things First


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Chances are, you–  like most, think my first name is pronounced, “Cherry” like the fruit, it is not.

According to baby name books, “Cheri” means “beloved”, but I am pretty sure that had nothing to do with my Mother’s choosing of my name. I was named after my Mom’s best friend’s sister and her daughter.

Yes, named after two people who had similar names:

  • Cherie`
  • Shari

Technically my name is Cheri` — pronounced the French way however, I have always been called Cheri pronounced “Shari”. A member of the WordPress DailyPrompt crew is also named “Cheri”, but I have no idea how she pronounces hers. I would be curious to know.

As a child, we moved constantly so I was always the “new kid” in school. Seriously, I never went to less than 2 schools in any given school year (beginning in Kindergarten). In fact, I often went to 3 or 4 schools a year.

School hopping sucked, especially between 5th and 9th grade.

As you may know, when you are new to a school, the teacher will often introduce you to the classroom. In my case, I was always introduced as “Cherry” Williams (“Williams” is my maiden name — which we will get into shortly).

Can you imagine the reaction of pre-pubescent and pubescent boys when being introduced to, “Cherry” the new girl?

Wait for it….

I cannot count how many times some random and strange boy came up and poked me with their finger announcing he, “Popped a Cherry”.

Mary In The Middle


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My middle name is “Marie”. There is no trick to the pronunciation however, “Marie” is a form of “Mary” and one female — in every generation of my family on my father’s side (as far back as can be traced), has a form of “Mary” in their name.

Historically, my lineage can be traced to biblical times and as crazy as it may sound, I have always believed I was somehow a part of the Jesus blood line (long before there was a book called DaVinci Code).

What’s In A Last Name?

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Many people I meet automatically assume my last name is, “Speak” because of my website name which is on my business cards. My last name is NOT “Speak”. The website’s name was chosen as a nod to Orwell’s “NewsSpeak” from the book 1984 and seemed apropos.

But, the truth is…

My father’s family is Syrian and Lebanese. If you are familiar with that region you will understand how they can be both.

When my father’s family came to America and landed at Ellis Island, they — like countless others, were given a new last name.

The story goes that officials would assign new names to families if theirs sounded too, “foreign” or if they were too difficult to pronounce.

In my family’s case, our last name was originally, “Rohaad”.

How someone got “Williams” from “Rohaad” I will never understand.

Thoughts On “Cheri Marie Williams”


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I never hated my name although, as I mentioned, it was a tough one to have as a teenager and of course always having to correct people on the pronunciation can be a pain, but it is my name and I am sticking with it.

Oddly enough, because of the spelling, it is also mistaken for, “Chris” or “Cheryl”.

My Nick-Names


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I have had many “nick-names” over the years. In 6th grade I was dubbed “T-n-T” for “Tits and Teeth” (if you’ve seen me, you understand this nick-name). I have also been called, “Cherry”, “Cher” and “Shah-dee”.

Unrelated to my name itself, I have also been dubbed, “The Machine”, “Bear” and “Star” because of my personality and work ethic.

Naming My Offspring


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I have three adult children. Each has a name that was chosen specifically for them.

ALECA: My oldest daughter has an unusual name. Her name is, “Aleca” and it was my youngest brother (who was in kindergarten at the time of her birth) who suggested it. His best friend at the time was a boy named Alec and he really wanted me to have a boy and name him after his friend. When I convinced him I was having a girl, he decided if he added an “a” to the end of “Alec” it would suffice…he was right!


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Poor Aleca has a long cumbersome name because I gave her 2 middle-names; Lindy (after my mom) and Angelisse, the name I had originally picked out for her. For those wondering why I switched from “Angelisse” to “Aleca” the answer is simple, my ex-mother-in-law is Hispanic and I hated the Latin pronunciation of  “Angelisse” … “Ahn-HELL-eese”. This was the same reason I didn’t name her “Maggie”, they wanted to call her, “Mah-gay” … Yeh, no thank you.

I often call her, “Lolly”, from the old song, “Lollipop”, which I used to sing to her when she was little.

NICOLE: My middle kiddo — my 2nd daughter, is named Nicole Marie. My ex-husband chose her name knowing “Mary” had to be in there somewhere as per my family line.

He never told me why exactly he chose “Nicole” but, we were pretty set on “Brianna” until a close friend of his had a daughter and named her Brianna a couple of months before I gave birth at home with a Mid-wife.


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It is only now, in her adulthood, that I call her “Nic”.

As a child I always called her “Co-lie” or “CoCo”.

“Coco” was originally given to her within minutes of her birth by her one-year-old sister, Aleca, who took one look at her new baby sister, clapped with glee and said, “Coco baby”.

JASON: My son, and the last of my kids, was named by my 2 daughters. Originally he was going to be a “Robert”, after my ex ‘s best friend but, my ex and his buddy “Bob” were heavily using at the time and we separated.

As the birth was nearing I knew I didn’t want my son named after a meth-head and offered my very young daughters an opportunity to choose a great name for their soon-to-arrive baby brother.

They chose “Jason” over “Jacob” and added “Patrick” as a middle name after their father.


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We have all called him, “Jaybee”, “Jay Bird”, or simply, “Birdie” over the years. When he was a toddler our “Jay Bird” would even shake his tail feathers for us, but now he of course — at 19, hates the nicknames. I still call him, “Birdie”.

Ironically enough, the star in one of my favorite movies (RUSH) is named “Jason Patrick”.

Owning It


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I know many people who hate their name, some who have even changed their name. I am not one of those and I feel strongly that my name was a gift given to me by my parents at a time they were filled with hope, promise and love.

Why would I want to change what was the culmination of their emotion?

The name we were given at birth is technically the only thing we truly own. The only thing that is ours and ours alone and our name was chosen just for us.

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10 comments on “Name That Loon

  1. Silverleaf
    September 2, 2013

    A fascinating and interesting family history. Thank you for sharing it.


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  3. beingnenne
    September 2, 2013

    I like how have involved the whole family in the various namings..How cool is that and such a fun tradition too.


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