I suppose the problem English people have is that our name Neil has the vowels the other way round, so people make the assumption that your version is the same. I'd also say that if you asked the average person on the street who Niels Bohr is most wouldn't have a clue who he is, let alone know how to spell it.
Hehe, I guess I exaggerated the whole thing a bit, as it was a rant. I don't expect people to know how to spell my name automatically! I know they aren't used to it. But I kind of had two separate points. One point was English-speaking people's refusal to spell my name correctly, even after
I tell them. The other thing is that people act as if my name is really weird, while globally
speaking Niels is a very common name. The first thing make me feel, in some particular situations, that some people don't really care to do any 'effort'.
I also notice that a lot of English-speaking people 'englishify' the names of people of other countries. For example, if they are French they often have names with the same spelling but completely different pronunciation (like for example 'Vincent'). If I would meet a French person, I would pronounce their name in French even if their name has a Dutch pronunciation. But an English-speaking person simply wouldn't care about the French pronunciation, they would pronounce it in English anyway. I don't like that much.
It seems to be that the English-speaking world is often very focused on their own language/culture, probably also because they have the world dominating language nowadays.
You're also correct Niels when you say that English spelling has no rules, but for that we can blame whoever's been invading this island and adding their own bits of language to what they found here.
Ehm... You are invaders yourself! The English were a Germanic people who invaded the island and pushed the original Celtic people's in to Wales and Scotland...
At least, we have no problem with English words coming from French, the writing is just so logical, because WE have spelling rules!! For the strange spelling, just blame the Germanic language.
Hmmm, French is much better in terms of spelling rules than English, but it is still less phonetic than most Germanic languages. (French has lots and lots of silent letters, letters that have different pronunciations depending on the sequence of letters, etc...).
German, Dutch and Scandinavian language spellings are much more 'what you see is what you get'. But then again, Spanish is probably one of the most phonetic spellings out there.
Sir William is right, the reason that English spelling is so weird is because it is a mish mash of the Germanic and Roman language, thanks to the huge French influence on the language.