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.

I don't think it's a big deal but it can be a real albatross around a kids neck to carry a name which has nothing to do with them culturally.

I have this situation with ds2. We named him a polish name, we have no polish connections at all but loved the name and the meaning.
What worries me now, is him being judged by his name on application forms etc. The thing is, his middle and surname aren't English either, his surname is Italian!

Otoh, if people are that small minded to judge someone by their name, it's not anybody I want in my sons life anyway

MrsBungle Sun 30-Jun-13 08:20:32

I think it's a lovely idea but I just imagine the type of conversation that oink has. This would, personally, put me off. It's hard naming another human! They are the ones who have to live with it.

My kids have both got relatively unusual middle names, both of which mean a lot to us but I wouldn't have used them as first names even though I love them.

Zynia41 Sun 30-Jun-13 11:29:26

I don't know, to be honest, if it's all just French, Spanish, Italian, polish, irish, welsh on a white person from the british isles I wouldn't think much, but i'm sorry, if I see a white English person with a Japanese name, or an Asian name, I would just wonder, why and really? But that is just me because I am very nosy and I always where people are from and if they are half Italian for example I ask if there mum or their dad was the Italian one. it's lovely if there is a story but would it drive you mad if people like me were fishing for that story!?

badtime Sun 30-Jun-13 13:22:06

It's not like it is unheard of for people of European descent to have an Indian name - Uma Thurman for example, but people will expect you to justify it (Uma's father is a buddhist scholar). If you feel that your reasons are good enough for you, they should be good enough for others.

Justfornowitwilldo Sun 30-Jun-13 13:25:06

'I don't think it's a big deal but it can be a real albatross around a kids neck to carry a name which has nothing to do with them culturally.'

I agree completely and I grew up with one.

hatsybatsy Sun 30-Jun-13 13:30:25

Sakura isn't a first name even in Japan though? It just means cherry blossom.....

It sounds quite pretty in Japanese - don't think it sounds that great anglicised though. for that reason alone, I wouldn't do it.

elQuintoConyo Sun 30-Jun-13 13:41:28

So if Sakura was the name of a doctor who saved your life, that's ok, but if it's a name you heard while on a couple of weeks' gap year yabu? Whoever said that upthread is nuts!

Names mean different things to different people, for different reasons.

So what, you/dc might spend your life explaing your name - heck, I'm 38 and still have to spell my surname and it's not difficult, I just get on with it.

You find prejudice everywhere over everything. Those names sound lovely and are important for you. Sod everyone else grin

Fwiw on another thread someone is stuck between the names Tigris/Antigone for their dd - some people think they're beautiful, some think hideous.

Justfornowitwilldo Sun 30-Jun-13 13:49:21

Spelling and explaining are different. It never occurred to me until I was at University to just lie and say my grandmother was from that country!

elQuintoConyo Sun 30-Jun-13 13:59:42

So, dc grow up daying 'it's a name my DM lovex'? Is that so hard? Are peope really so catsbum mouth when presented with something like this? 'Why are you called Priya? Is your DM/DF Indian? Oh... how odd'. Eff off grin

^^that last bit aimed at future idiots questioning your DD's name, not pp

elQuintoConyo Sun 30-Jun-13 14:01:39

My Dsis has a nuts name, sounds like a nn for an Irish name but isn't. Our DM heard it and liked it, end of.
My name, in contrast, is very ordinary.

LizTerrine Sun 30-Jun-13 14:15:34

I think many British people would mispronounce Sakura and call her sa-KOOR-a, which would bug me. Plus as pp said, the more common name in Japan would be Sakurako, which is a bit old-fashioned (think women in their mid30s).

Plus, to be honest, I met a White British Hiroko once and was somewhat non-plussed as I had been expecting someone at least part-Japanese. We had a really awkward conversation as described above so vividly by oink and she looked pained. It was obviously a familiar topic for her!

blueshoes Sun 30-Jun-13 14:15:36

No. People will always think that person's parents are just a little woo or lotus eating.

ChubbyKitty Sun 30-Jun-13 14:23:23

My name is very, very, French. I however, am not. Not by a long shot!

But it's okay to do it! And Sakura is beautiful - I love anything to do with Japan!

ChubbyKitty Sun 30-Jun-13 14:24:09

I'm sorry I got really overexcited there confused haha

Sonkey Sun 30-Jun-13 15:17:27

I've been to a couple of restaurants called sakura, that puts be off. If you like Asian names there are quite a few that work well in Britain.

Mintyy Sun 30-Jun-13 15:21:42

No, I don't like this. Just something I would never do.

I love the name Mercedes, for instance, but alas neither dh or I have the tiniest bit of Spanish in our ancestry, so I couldn't give it to dd.

ZZZenagain Sun 30-Jun-13 15:30:19

your question is whether it is ok to use a name which doesn't reflect your dc's ethnicity. I think yes but sometimes the effect could be jarring for people - or even comic if you are really unlucky.

The 3 names you have in mind, I would not use not for the above reasons though. I just don't think they would work.

Will people find it strange? Yes of course. They and you will always be asked about it, but maybe that doesn't bother you much. You can just say, it is an Indian name actually and I liked the way it sounds. But you may have to say it a lot!

HighInterestRat Sun 30-Jun-13 15:34:42

I think I'd assume one parent was of another heritage. There are quite a few mixed-heritage sounding names at my dcs' school and this is usually the case.

NoSnowJustSand Sun 30-Jun-13 15:39:33

I think it's lovely to think of giving your child a more exotic name. Why not?

I have a French name and I'm not French. It's never been an issue.

LittleNoona Sun 30-Jun-13 15:40:18

Sakura is beautiful smile

chesterberry Sun 30-Jun-13 18:19:03

Hmm, thanks for all of the replies. I knew that this would be a mixed response, not sure if I am any closer to knowing if the decision would be okay or not. Although based on responses I think I have ruled out Sakura as maybe that does just sound too Japanese and I think LizTerrine is right that it would be pronounced wrongly. It also would not go at all with my potential middle name, and when I think about it I kind of have my heart set on using my Grandmother's name for the middle if baby is a girl. I still think the name is lovely, but maybe not for my baby with no Japanese heritage.

Middle names would be Rose, after my grandmother, or James after my late uncle. Priya Rose. Zeeshan (Zishan?) James. Maybe Rose for the first name, although not sure Rose Priya works and although I like Rose I'm not sure I love it. I don't think I could use James as a first name, uncle died unexpectedly and quite young and not sure it would seem right to use as the first name as it is so much my uncle's name.

Oh, I just don't know! Might go back to the baby name books and see if I can come up with at least a few more names on my short-list and maybe when little one is born the right name will become clear.

If you like Rose, how about Rosina? It's a bit more unusual

Rosamund and rosilyn are lovely too!

chesterberry Sun 30-Jun-13 18:51:28

Thanks for the suggestions, but it's not so much that I like Rose as that I want to use my Grandmother's name, and her name is simply Rose. I mean obviously I do like the name as well, but more because of the fact it reminds me of her than the sound of it - really not a fan of the names with 'Ros' at the beginning either -. Was babysat by a lady called Ros who I hated! I know you don't always pronounce it Ros, but even so I don't think I could go for it. I do quite like Rosie but that's the name of a very close friend's daughter so don't think I can use it.

Thinking I should have conceived little one with an Asian man to save all these worries!

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