How to pronounce my name?

TL;DR: Do you know the “Itsy bitsy spider” song? so it is like the Itsy part, with a k’ at the end: Itsy+k.

Many people struggle with pronouncing my name. If you are reading this, perhaps you are one of those people. Most feel awkward asking me how to pronounce it. Personally, I don’t mind. I would even appreciate it if you ask me multiple times how to pronounce it correctly rather than having you mispronouncing it. But the truth is, I don’t blame you. It is confusing.

So what is the deal with Yizhak and Itzik?

In Israel (where I was born and raised), it is very common to have a given name and a nickname. Take the current prime minister for example. His name is Benjamin Netanyahu, but everyone calls him Bibi. It is actually so common that some names have a built-in nickname. Here are a few examples of English given names, followed by their Hebrew counterpart and the built-in nicknames:

  • Abraham – Avraham – Avi
  • Jacob – Yakov – Koby
  • Moses – Moshe – Moshiko
  • Solomon – Shlomo – Shlomi
  • Josef – Yosef – Yossi

Notice a theme?

My given name is Yizhak. It is actually the Hebrew version of the biblical Isaac (the one that had his dad tie him up at the altar… poor kid). This name has a very common nickname – Itzik. No one that knows me personally calls me Yizhak. If I pick up the phone and someone asks to talk to Yizhak, I know it is someone that never met me in person (like the bank or a sales representative).

Over the years, I tried to explain how to pronounce my name many times and eventually found the simplest way. I use an example many people know – The “Itsy bitsy spider” song. Itzik is pronounced just like the Itsy part only with a ‘k’ at the end, so Itsy+k.

If you are still unsure, you can see how I pronounce it in this video I recorded about my new surface fitting method for 3D point clouds.

In the past I thought about letting people call me Isaac, to make it easier for them. I eventually decided against it, my name is strongly tied to my identity.

I am Itzik.

How hard can it be to say it right?