Okay to give a baby a name that doesn't typically match ethnicity?

(77 Posts)
chesterberry Sat 29-Jun-13 22:50:13

I'm just wondering what people think about giving a baby a name which, whilst popular in other cultures/ countries, is not popular in your own?

I really like some typically Asian names - I love the name Zeeshan for a boy and it is my favourite name out of my shortlist by a mile but I have never met a boy who was not of Asian or Middle Eastern heritage being given the name.

For a girl I was trying to decide between Priya (Indian) and Sakura (Japanese) - I travelled Asia on my gap-year and all of the names on my list have some sentimental value for me, but when I told my parents my names they said I was being ridiculous to suggest 'such non-white names' for my child and would be setting him/her up for a lifetime of trying to explain why they weren't given a 'normal British' name.

This hadn't worried me but now I am starting to second guess myself and think maybe people will think it very strange to give my child a name which, when people first hear it, will make them assume s/he is going to be of a different heritage and that this could matter for my child.

Baby's father is not on the scene so decision is mine alone but really wondering what other people think - do you think it would be very unreasonable/unfair to give baby a name that, for his/her heritage, would seem very unusual to some? Or do you think that these names will become more popular outside of their cultures in a few years anyway as more people come to know and thus consider them for their children?

Would be really grateful for anyone's thoughts and opinions - I accept that whatever name I choose for my baby not everybody will like it and the important thing is to choose names I love, and I don't care if people think I am pretentious as the names genuinely hold a lot of meaning for me, I haven't just chosen them to be different, but I would hate to choose a name that would make my child's life in any way difficult when they start school etc.

quoteunquote Sat 29-Jun-13 22:58:03

I think it is a lovely idea,

Who gives a flying fishes what anyone else thinks.

It is lovely to have a list of names you like and when you meet your baby, working out who they are is the best bit.

Devora Sat 29-Jun-13 23:01:30

I think you should go for it.

englishteacher78 Sat 29-Jun-13 23:03:25

My mum gave me a German name rather than the Scottish one the extended family would have preferred. Sometimes I liked it. Sometimes I hated it. Most of the time it didn't matter. I know your example seems more extreme but there seems more diversity in names now anyway.
Names that have negative historical associations for me seem relatively popular (Tarquin). Your name choices are gorgeous.

Alisvolatpropiis Sat 29-Jun-13 23:03:37

Priya is such a lovely name. I'm amazed it hasn't taken off in the same way names like Layla have.

MacaYoniandCheese Sat 29-Jun-13 23:04:13

I think your ideas are lovely...they are real names that have meaning to you. Go for it!

sallysparrow157 Sat 29-Jun-13 23:12:56

I went to uni with someone who was white British but named after a very not British friend of his dad - he did quite frequently get asked where his name was from but only in a friendly curious sort of way and he wasn't bothered by being asked. I have a couple of Chinese friends who have very English names which they are known by but also have Chinese middle names or first names they don't go by - I quite like the contrast in their names

WhoBU Sat 29-Jun-13 23:17:04

Tbh, I wouldn't and find it a bit weird.

AllegraLilac Sat 29-Jun-13 23:17:39

Maybe unite the two ethnicities? One British and one ethnic for first and middle names?

MortifiedAdams Sat 29-Jun-13 23:19:07

I love the name Priya, heard it first on The Big Bang Theory, and assumed it was spelt Pria. I would consider it for a dd. Zeeshan nit so much but not hecause of ethnic7ty, I'm just not fond.

I love Aoife but have no Irish connections. It wouldnt put me off.

cantreachmytoes Sat 29-Jun-13 23:20:31

Go for it. As long as you like it and understand the meaning in the original language, who cares. Most "British" names have Latin, Greek, Hebrew, French or Germanic origins anyway.

PoppyWearer Sat 29-Jun-13 23:20:49

I think the idea in itself is lovely/fine, and the names you like are lovely.

But (and I'm sorry for this)...

It's fine and lovely until your DC submits a CV for a job and some prejudiced twat is in the decision-making position. I think it's in the book "Freakonomics" where there is a chapter called "What's in a Name" and the answer is....quite a lot actually. Same CV, the white-sounding name got more interviews, IIRC.

I'm sorry to bring this up. Perhaps this isn't the type of success you crave for your child, and their name may open other doors to them. But shouldn't it be their choice?

(I speak as a person who has a name that can be construed as an Asian name and have met with some prejudices until the "oh, but you're white" moment.)

I have given my own children "portable" names that tend to work well in multiple languages and cultures for this reason.

Sorry, I really don't want to burst your bubble, I can see that your intentions are good.

I think Sakura or Priya are lovely names.

I've never come across Zeeshan but I don't find it weird.
Don't worry about pleasing everyone else- go with the name you love for your baby!

bugsybill Sat 29-Jun-13 23:24:24

I think it is fine. I would choose something that is easy to pronounce.

I like zeeshan and priya smile

I would suggest you choose a family/own culturally significant middle name.

halestone Sat 29-Jun-13 23:29:16

I think you should go for it always chose a name YOU like, other people will learn to love it and it will end up really suiting your baby.

chesterberry Sat 29-Jun-13 23:38:24

Thank you for your replies everybody, you have left me feeling a lot more reassured that my name choices are okay and that I don't need to listen to my parents.

PoppyWearer - It is a bit disconcerting to hear that having an 'ethnic sounding' names can make a difference with regard to CVs etc, but perhaps whatever name I choose will bring up some prejudices with it? I hope my child would not want to work in a company that discriminates, but if they did want that kind of job my surname is quite British sounding and I do have traditional British middle names picked out (after my Grandmother and late uncle) so baby will have a British name to use if they wish to.

I definitely won't be making any final decisions on the name until I meet my baby, but feel a lot more reassured by you all that the pregnancy hormones haven't made me go completely crazy in regards to choosing a name and that my choices aren't too out there! [grin

MissTweed Sun 30-Jun-13 03:32:56

If I'm totally honest then I ditto what poppy wearer said.

I think it depends what part of the country you (they would)I live in possibly?

I live in Devon and work in a profession where it possibly might affect job/cv wise (obviously totally dependant on which backwards idiot is reading the doing the selection process) unfortunately this is due to a number of occasions (actually about 90% of them) where other ethnicities have been appointed, gained the qualifications at the expense of the organisation then left shortly afterwards. I'm sure there are many reasons why this has happened but I'm sure (I know for a fact in some instances) a name would influence cv decisions.hmm

Sunnysummer Sun 30-Jun-13 04:08:59

My thinking on the CV thing is that maybe it's a good jerk detector - I mean, who wants to work for the kind of person who wouldn't employ a Priya?

HOWEVER.. It is still a little odd to have such a distinctively foreign name without a really strong tie. Speaking as a person with a foreign name and English accent, everyone she meets will ask about it, which can get tiring. Maybe if the tie is really strong - like your life was saved by a heroic Dr Priya in India, or you conceived your child in the cherry blossom season in Japan, that makes sense. But if it's just that you spent a few weeks there on a gap year it might be better to keep it as a middle name, as suggested above.

oinkment Sun 30-Jun-13 04:50:29

One of my daughters has a Greek name. I quite often have to have this conversation:

Oh how lovely! Are you Greek?

No, I'm English.

Oh right. What's the Greek connection?

No connection. Just like the name.

Oh right.

<awkward pause>

Have you been to Greece?

No, never.

Right. Still, it is a lovely name...

<Oink briefly feels a slight tit>

I think its a great idea and you should go for it.

And regards to the cv thing, most companies do not look at names until they have done the selecting, they mainly go on the person meeting the criteria. Like the other day when I went for a job in the same company I work for, nobody had a clue until the one for interview were selected and then the names were disclosed. So don't worry about all that.

I think, if its very much a name from a different culture, then the conversation oink outlines will happen a lot .

PoppyAmex Sun 30-Jun-13 07:44:25

"And regards to the cv thing, most companies do not look at names until they have done the selecting, they mainly go on the person meeting the criteria."

I'm sorry to disagree; I've been a Headhunter and worked in Recruitment for many years and the vast majority of companies will look at a CV in its entirety before proceeding to next stage.

PoppyWearer is right; "Freakonomics" describes this well known social phenomena very well.

OP, I think they're lovely names but your daughter might feel a bit silly answering questions about her ancestry constantly with "well... mum travelled there in her gap year" wink

PoppyAmex Sun 30-Jun-13 07:45:07

Actually, just read oink's description and I would imagine that's pretty descriptive of what would happen.

Freakonomics has been heavily criticised for not being correct so I wouldn't worry about that. Your names are lovely.

sashh Sun 30-Jun-13 08:02:30

Love Sakura, not too keen on the others.

BUT I think it is lovely that you are thinking of names with a reason.

I'd love to have had a name with a reason / story. The only story I have is that my parents didn't think I was going to be a girl so they spent every visit going through lists of names til they found one they didn't both hate.

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