Summary: the thing most people get wrong about my name is the spelling of my surname (it’s in the url!). Get that right and I’m either flexible or largely in line with most people’s default expectations for the rest.
However, if you’d like an extended version with linguistic tidbits…
I pronounce my name /’ɡɹɛtʃn̩ mə’kʌlɪk/, but I also have relatives who use the /məkʌlə/ pronunciation so I’m fine with that one too. And of course /ən/ is basically the same as a syllabic nasal. You can hear me say my own name in the first 30 seconds of any episode of Lingthusiasm. I adapt the pronunciation in other languages — for example, I shift the stress to the final syllable when I’m introducing myself in French.
Technically, the German pronunciation of Gretchen, my given name, is /ɡʁeːtçən/ and the Scottish pronunciation of McCulloch, my surname, ends with a voiceless velar fricative, but I am a speaker of Canadian English and do not use those versions. I strongly prefer that people adapt my name smoothly to their own phonology rather than try to produce sounds or clusters that are marked for them (Yes, even if you’re a linguist and you like trying to produce interesting sounds — other people may feel differently!), so please find an adaptation that works well for you! (This means that if you already have a German or Scottish accent, go ahead and pronounce my name “properly”, but otherwise please just use my pronunciation or its best adaptation to your sound system!) No nicknames, please.
Grammatically, in English I use Ms. as an honorific, she/her pronouns, and gender-neutral versions of professional titles (e.g. linguist, author). In other European languages, I use the unmarked feminine honorific (e.g. madame in French, Frau in German, señora in Spanish, etc.), feminine pronouns and agreement (elle, sie, ella, etc.), including feminine versions of professional titles (e.g. auteure, Linguistin, autora). See this blog post for context on why my preferences on professional titles vary. Where this is a relevant option, I prefer gender-inclusive plural forms for groups that I’m part of, preferably ones that are inclusive of nonbinary genders (I’m not nonbinary but I like to proceed under the assumption that any group I’m in might contain some people who are).
Unlike in Shakespeare’s day, it is no longer conventional for people to have multiple spellings of their names. Thus, the following are presently considered misspellings of my surname: McCullough, McCullouch, McCullogh, McColloch, McCulluch, McColluch, McCullock, McCulla, MacCulla, MacCulloch, McCullagh, MacCullough, McCully, McCollough, McCoulough, mccollough, mcollugh, maccollough, mckennick, mccolloch, mc cullogh, mc culloigh, mculoch, mcculooch, mclathen, mccouloch, mcholloh, mcculough, mccloch, mccullock, mclaughlin, etc. Many of these are legit spellings from an age of less spelling standardization, and other people do use them, but it is currently conventional for people to only have one spelling of their name, and none of those is the one that my ancestors ended up on, so welcome if you’ve arrived at this page from the best guess of a search engine!
On the other side of the technological divide, unfortunately, the spelling of my surname that autocorrect suggests is probably not the same as mine! I have been correcting people on the spelling of my surname for an age, and I have finally arrived at an acrostic to help you remember how to spell McCulloch: My Cognomen Contains Un-diphthonged, Legless Letters Only (Cheerful Hint!). Thanks to Linguist Twitter for helping me come up with this.
Capitalization: My surname is most commonly written McCulloch on a computer, which is best for general use. In handwritten or extremely specialized typography contexts, the first c is superscripted, which is more technically correct but don’t try to do this in computer contexts because it will break everything, trust me. The second C should only be lowercased in contexts where everything is lowercase, such as emails and urls — if the M is capitalized, so is the second C!
My whole name in citation form is McCulloch, Gretchen (or McCulloch, G. depending on style guide), and my surname should be alphabetized under M, except under Scottish systems where it can be alphabetized under Mc/Mac if the option exists. I do not use a middle name or initial if avoidable.
Fortunately, there is only one usual spelling of Gretchen and most spellchecks seem to have it, although for the benefit of Google, I do very rarely get Gretchan, Gretchin, Gretel, Greta, Gretchel, Grachel, etc. My given name can be lowercased for informal stylistic effect or in tech contexts where everything is lowercase. If you’re from a nicknaming culture that absolutely must create name variants, the base roots that are okay to build off are G or Gret- (other ways of truncating my name are not acceptable), but it’s also entirely safe to just not nickname.
So if you’re mentioning me somewhere, please do double-check the spelling of my name? One mnemonic that might help is that I have no descenders anywhere, i.e. there is no “g” in my last name, which is the most common error (thanks to a certain Australian author). It’ll be nicer for all of us if I don’t have to correct you. Thanks!
This page is part of a broader effort to encourage people to overtly state the parameters of how to use their names.
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