Lauren writes: My best friend’s name is Laura, but we pronounce the first syllable differently. I say “Lauren” like “Lawrence.” She says “Laura” like “Lara.” A complication: She is named after her mother, and they both pronounce it this way! I am not named after anyone. I’m not asking you to order Laura to change her pronunciation. But I would like to know, officially, who is correct and who is living a lie.

Well, Laura is getting an order anyway: Stop saying your name wrong. They are different names! Laura/Laurel/Lauren all derive from the Latin “laurus,” meaning the laurel tree, whose leaves were awarded in victory — for, say, getting a fake newspaper judge to side with you (congrats). Lara, short for the Russian Larissa, was introduced to the U.S. via “Doctor Zhivago.” Laura (pronounced Laura!) cannot just ignore this history and the U in her name on her mom’s say-so.

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