Should migrant children keep their 'exotic' names?

(81 Posts)
Fiona2011231 Sun 11-Aug-13 13:35:59

Recently I met a lady of Indian origin in a birthday party. She told me that her children has European names (like Lisa, Michael, etc). I saw nothing unusual about that.

However, later on, she and some other friends had a discussion. She insisted that non-European children (from Africa or Asia, etc), born in the UK, should have Western names rather than keeping their original names.

The reason, she said, is that they would have more chance to succeed in life if people heard their names. And I myself remember reading an article which said those job applicants, who adopted Western names, were more likely to be given an interview.

What do you think about this issue? Do you think it is true that non-European children should have Western names if they want to succeed here?


insancerre Sun 11-Aug-13 13:39:50


insancerre Sun 11-Aug-13 13:40:45

no, they shouldn't have to change their names

LynetteScavo Sun 11-Aug-13 13:47:16

I went to school with several Chinese people.

They had all chosen "Enlgish" names especially to come to this country. The names they chose tended to be slightly out of the ordinary. Think Eustace, and Violet. This was back in the '80's when the rest of us were called Sarah and Kate.

I don't think these names helped them get on at all. Although I remember we all laughed when we asked one girl what her real name was, and what she told us sounded like "shit fan" blush. (She is now incredibly successful, in a jaw dropping way. Obviously neither name ever held her back).

LynetteScavo Sun 11-Aug-13 13:49:18

And no, I really don't think children should change their names when moving country.

And that includes within Europe, where names are pronounced differently, or America, where names which are considered MC here are considered something quite different there.

PoppyWearer Sun 11-Aug-13 13:51:23

I worked with a few people of Chinese/Korean ethnicity in other countries (USA, Singapore, Australia), and many seemed to have a Chinese name and an "English" equivalent.

A colleague had a baby and introduced him with both Chinese and English names. This seemed to be the "normal" thing to do in that country/context (Singapore).

tumbletumble Sun 11-Aug-13 13:55:56

I have an Indian friend called Jaideep, Jai for short. I've noticed that he sometimes spells it Jay and sometimes Jai. I guess he finds it useful to have a more Western persona at certain times!

impecuniousmarmoset Sun 11-Aug-13 14:04:19

No, they shouldn't. But I know a man, very high-flying successful career, who v. early on changed his name from Mohammed to something extremely English-sounding (think David or Brian). He also has a cut-glass English accent. I often wonder if he was right in his assumption that changing his name would make his life easier - I fear he might have beensad

JustBecauseICan Sun 11-Aug-13 14:06:27

I think it should be up to them. But sadly, I do think your friend may be right in people's assumptions.

I teach lots of non-British students and as others have said, almost all Chinese/Taiwanese students will adopt a western name.

LynetteScavo Sun 11-Aug-13 14:15:41

Well, James Caan was born Nazim Khan.

Changing his name doesn't seem to have harmed him. But it was his choice when he was about 20yo.

Longdistance Sun 11-Aug-13 14:28:08

<raises hand as someone with a foreign funky name>

I never flt the need to change my name. However, my name is spelt with a C and in my parents country it is spelt with a K. No issue, as people always said my name wrong regardless.

I've kept my name, and mixed with dh surname, my name sounds Irish now, as dh's surname is of Irish origin, and my first name is popular in Ireland too.

I do think its up to the individual as an adult to choose to change their name, as from experience it was rather frustrating when people couldn't pronounce or spell my name.

MyNameIsSuz Sun 11-Aug-13 14:38:11

I think a lot of Chinese people adopt a western name because it's a tonal language and the same word pronounced slightly differently can mean something else entirely. So it's more to do with us not being able to pronounce their name correctly than them trying to fit in.

enderwoman Sun 11-Aug-13 15:00:00

I've met many Chinese people who pick a Western name because their names are hard to say correctly for English speakers.

The Asian families I know pick traditional names that can be said easily by Westerners.

I am dual nationality and my parents picked names that are easy to say by both cultures.

LynetteScavo Sun 11-Aug-13 15:01:00

I can imagine having your name constantly being pronounced incorrectly would be annoying. In that case, I would pick a new name. grin

Gingerandcocoa Sun 11-Aug-13 15:05:06

I just think that they should try to pick names that work in their mother language but also that don't sound too odd in English. I am not British but live in the UK and am likely to continue here. So when I have children I'll do my best to pick a name that works in both my mother tongue and in English.

SirChenjin Sun 11-Aug-13 15:11:01

I don't think anyone should have to change their names according to the country they live in.

That being said, I do wonder at what point it becomes appropriate to stop referring back to the 'mother country', eg friend of mine is Scottish, married to a 4th generation Italian (none of the family speak Italian or visit Italy, but the surname is obviously Italian). Her sons both have Italian names, no reference to their UK heritage, despite the fact that they have no ties to Italy.

garlicagain Sun 11-Aug-13 15:11:02

I take the Indian mother's point. I feel her thinking is a lot like some branches of my family, who traditionally give children easily internationalised names.

It's not important, though, afaics, because people in the UK generally modify their names as required; I understand names have more significance in some other countries. There are loads of Brits called Kaz, Naz, Taz, Shen, Chan, Jai, Kai, etc, etc, which are easy contractions of names that would be hard to pronounce in English. It's not unusual to meet an Andy whose given name is Androula or Andropoulos, either, for example.

eddiemairswife Sun 11-Aug-13 15:12:25

Most of the children I taught kept their own names, but 2 chinese children started called Raymond and Sarah. However, we learnt that at their previous school they were called Jesus and Mary!!

garlicagain Sun 11-Aug-13 15:13:09

Lynette, I lived in a country where my name is hard to pronounce, so I just translated it smile

garlicagain Sun 11-Aug-13 15:14:16

at their previous school they were called Jesus and Mary!!

Hah grin Now, had you been teaching in Mexico, half your class might have been called those!

LynetteScavo Sun 11-Aug-13 15:19:35

eddiemairswife, were they Christian, or just trying desperately to fit in?


Bakingnovice Sun 11-Aug-13 15:33:05

James caan is a tit. Yes he did well and maybe his change of name helped, but I personally think its lovely to hear different names with different origins.

GoodtoBetter Sun 11-Aug-13 15:41:16

Intrigued by this: America, where names which are considered MC here are considered something quite different there. For example?

LynetteScavo Sun 11-Aug-13 15:41:37

Well, I like James Caan, and the name James. For ages I'd presumed it was James Khan , though.

LynetteScavo Sun 11-Aug-13 15:42:57

GoodtoBetter I'm thinking of Otis, and probably Oscar.

eddiemairswife Sun 11-Aug-13 15:44:31

No idea what religion. Used to be delivered by a tiny chinese granny who spoke no English. Children spoke no English either. Raymond was in my Maths group and the 1st word he spoke to me was,"Two". Sadly they moved on again to a new area and maybe new names.

Nellelephant Sun 11-Aug-13 16:10:10

I don't think they should have to have Western names. I was at college with a Korean girl who was known as Kelly. Her real name was Joon, easy enough to say and we suggested to her that she should be known by this as its lovely but she was very much against using it whilst in the UK. It was as if it had been instilled in her that it wasn't appropriate for the western world. Quite sad really.

50% of people I meet can't pronounce my Welsh name. I wouldn't change the way it's spelt just to suit narrow minded people.

Turniptwirl Sun 11-Aug-13 17:07:13

I've only ever met one student from se Asia who used their own name, and there were quite a lot of Chinese students at my uni and I recently lived with a Malaysian student.

The girl who kept her name was called Miow, which is apparently unusual even in Malaysia!

I don't think they should have to use traditionally British names if they don't want to, but I think it's worth bearing in mind how English speakers will pronounce the name when choosing it, or make sure there's an easier nn. Mainly so the child doesn't have to spend 10 mins saying and spelling their name every time they meet someone!

eddiemairswife Sun 11-Aug-13 18:35:12

Living where I do I'm very familiar with Asian names [Indian and Pakistani], and none of the younger generation have an English name. I n fact some of the most bizarre names are of the white British children.

KateCroydon Sun 11-Aug-13 19:44:57

I think that it's normal for Westerners to adopt Chinese names if living in China - not an expert though.

childcarehell Sun 11-Aug-13 21:50:16

Well for our youngest two we chose very English names to go with our Eastern European surname. We are both fed up of explaining we speak english very well, having presumptions made of us and are aware of even a reluctance to hire Eastern Europeans in our area. We wanted them to seem settled/ not first generation immigrants. We are though part of a culture that, at least in certain areas, is very prominant with a few clashes. Of the older two one has used an english form of their name, mainly for ease as it was always mis=pronounced (2 syllables, very simple name,phonetic!)

shoobidoo Sun 11-Aug-13 22:02:35

Of course people shouldn't change their names just because they move country! Your name is part of your heritage and something to be proud of. Our kids have names representing my heritage and they are very happy and proud to have dual nationality and speak two languages - maybe they'll even want to work/study/live in the other country.

Also, isn't life much more interesting if we all have different names..?! I think we should encourage more name diversity, not less.

Ohhelpohnoitsa Sun 11-Aug-13 22:23:22

I have an adult Asian friend who has changed his name for exactly that reason. He has a good solid English name of his choosing as his own Indian name was "meaning people wouldnt deal with him". his words, his choice. Deepak wasnt getting in too well, Richard now has a manor house, 3 luxury cars and several holidays a year. Noone can prove if Deepak would have succeeded but richard is certainly glad he changed his own name by deedpoll.

Fiona2011231 Mon 12-Aug-13 00:01:35

Very interesting discussion so far. From all the replies here, I think there are really two schools of thought: one for, another against.

elQuintoConyo Mon 12-Aug-13 00:15:48

We are in Spain and chose an international name for DS. If he'd been a dd we wanted to call her Izaskun, but wouldn't have as my British family and friends would have trouble both spelling and pronouncing it.

I think it is dad people change their name - sad for them, sad for us (to not hear some beautiful names) and sad for society as it seems a foreign name wouldn't open as many doors as a traditiinal British name.

The James Khan thing makes me laugh - Reginald Dwight and Archibald Leach wouldn't have been half as sucessful if they hadn't changed their names. Or Frances Gumm. Or Norma Jean Baker.

dufflefluffle Mon 12-Aug-13 00:16:24

I'm Irish, living in Ireland and I think that those giving their children Irish names (with complicated, un obvious spelling) are fettering their children unnecessarily. I had friends who emigrated in the 80's who had to change their names - or the spelling of their names. My children have names that are easy to pronounce and (hopefully) spell for that very reason, yet they go to school with the likes of Caoimbhe, Muireann, Donnchadh, Beibhinn, Blaithin, Aoibheann, Caoileann, Feichinn, Naoishe, Oileann, Roise, Sadhb, Tadhg, and the like who will have to spell their names day in day out (even if they stay in rural Ireland).

AdoraBell Mon 12-Aug-13 00:23:07

I don't they should have to change names but I did once work with a British born man, in London, who was told to change his 'work' name to Fred because clients would understand that but would be confuse by his 'foreign' name. He refused.

I have adapted my name to the Spanish spelling, but that's because I actually prefer it rather than purely because if living in a Spsnish speaking country.

eddiemairswife Mon 12-Aug-13 12:04:16

I think workers in some Indian call centres were given English names to make them more 'acceptable' to english callers.

Turniptwirl Mon 12-Aug-13 19:10:03

I find it more annoying if I'm speaking to an Indian Fred than if it was just an Indian Mohammad or something!

I once phoned through a breakfast order from work and the elderly welsh man who took it found all our names equally funny/difficult, ranging from Leah, shak, erica and Kevin!

Our Chinese always arrives addressed to sion though even though its ordered by Shaun, which amuses me irrationally!

My friend is from Eastern Europe and deliberately chose names that worked both in her home country and in the uk. I think that's the right approach.

cory Wed 14-Aug-13 09:08:27

My Chinese SIL had a second Western (read English) name, but quickly dropped it when she found that it was far more difficult to pronounce for the Europeans among whom she found herself than her original Chinese one. She learnt in her first few weeks that there isn't such a thing as a "Western" name.

OneLittleToddleTerror Wed 14-Aug-13 09:19:55

Chinese names are impossible to pronounce properly by English speakers. A lot of times you might even be saying something insulting.

My family is from Hong Kong and I spent my youth in NZ. In Hong Kong, we all have English names from birth (if your parents are professional middle class). The birth certificates have fields for both English and Chinese names. At school, you are referred to by your English names.

On the other hands, the British who worked for the government all have Chinese names. They aren't even the silly ones that are just a translation of sounds you found on those calligraphy sold to tourists. But proper Chinese names, that don't sound very foreign.

That probably explains why a lot of Chinese don't have any problem adopting another name.

However, I don't think there's anything wrong for someone from, say Poland, to use David and Eve, instead of Dawid and Ewe.

OneLittleToddleTerror Wed 14-Aug-13 09:23:14

It's different if they are from China. A lot of them go by only their Chinese names, but pronouned in an anglicised way.

By the way, a lot of Chinese babies are named by a "psychics" (basically a naming expert who can deduce from birth day/time for a good name). My cousin was given a very very tragic 'English' name by such expert. It's after a certain football club in Spain. He's now using a different name on fb. It used to always make me laugh when his parents referred to him by his football club name.

innoparticularorder Wed 14-Aug-13 09:30:44

My dh uses a western name when he's at work occasionally. When he requests info over the phone using his real name rarely gets a response, when he uses western name he has no problems at all. Sad but true.

Lottapianos Wed 14-Aug-13 09:41:10

'I'm Irish, living in Ireland and I think that those giving their children Irish names (with complicated, un obvious spelling) are fettering their children unnecessarily'

Oh how I agree! I grew up in Ireland and have Irish parents and I have an old Irish name that is very difficult to say and spell if you haven't heard it before. It is an enormous pain in my butt to be honest. So much so that I use an Anglicised form of it everywhere but at work. It is such a drag to have to constantly correct people (politely), and spell your name constantly over the phone. And it's amazing how many people make no effort to get it right so either don't use my name (which feels very strange and horrid) or say/spell it wrong. It's just a huge drag.

Having said that, no-one should 'have to' change their name just to make it more convenient for others. I changed mine to make it more convenient for me!

IfUSeekAmy Wed 14-Aug-13 09:42:21

nellelephant same here. I have a Welsh name, not Welsh though, my parents just liked the name and it gets pronounced wrong every single day of my life! I give up correcting people sometimes, after telling them how to pronounce it 10 times and then they still say it wrong I admit defeat and so they call me the wrong name forever more!

LEMisdisappointed Wed 14-Aug-13 09:45:35

What about children who are given ridiculous sounding names by fuckwit parents? should they change too?

Lottapianos Wed 14-Aug-13 09:54:00

'so they call me the wrong name forever more!'

I have a friend who I have known for 11 years who still says my name wrong hmm I just don't care anymore, I've totally given up grin

alemci Wed 14-Aug-13 10:02:36

working in a school it can be really difficult to remember some of the names if you only saw the class once a week. long names at times which did not stick in my mind like Jane or John.

however it is up to them.

I quite like it when they have English names, it is refreshing and I am more likely to remember.

IfUSeekAmy Wed 14-Aug-13 10:10:41

Ha Lotta glad I'm not alone! My own friends get it right but most of DH's friends always say it wrong even after 10yrs together. And the doctor, dentist etc, I've resigned to the fact they will never ever pronounce it right no matter now times I correct them so there is no point

IfUSeekAmy Wed 14-Aug-13 10:11:25

Which makes me wonder sometimes if I pronounce it wrong and they all say it the right way lol

SoupDragon Wed 14-Aug-13 10:15:53

I don't think they should change their names, but I do think it is true that they stand a better chance of success with getting job interviews if they have a Western name, and probably a bland western name. I'm sure I saw a TV programme where they sent equal CVs in under two different names and the WEstern name was often successful where the ethnic name wasn't.

OneLittleToddleTerror Wed 14-Aug-13 10:24:49

SoupDragon it's sad isn't it about the name thing. I kept my foreign maiden name as it's traditional in my culture. But I know deep down that my CV would probably be looked at more if I have taken DH's bland English surname.

But names are identity. So I can see why people pick foreign names even if living in the UK. It let them hang on to their other identity.

SoupDragon Wed 14-Aug-13 10:38:39

It's very sad and wrong. I think it probably applies to the more creative names of the "white British" as well though.

mayihaveaboxofchoculaits Wed 14-Aug-13 11:06:35

I 've met south Koreans who have western names and Korean names. They see the European names as who they are as well as the Korean names. In an international world its an aspect that helps them .In the same way English is a business communication language.
My kids go to an ordinary school where people have different backgrounds. One guy from an Africa country said "call me x, because you wont be able to pronounce my African name" So kids did and they respected his ease with both names,so now they use both names its not a problem.
I think its how names are presented, which links to how they are received. If you are Darren,Brian ,mohammed or Tiffeny ,you might think builder or hairdresser, but if they are Dr Darren,dr mohammad, professor Brian, or Tiffeny ceo of a major company then you change your opinion.

Kezztrel Wed 14-Aug-13 12:04:50

There's a great podcast about this here. I think it concludes that contrary to popular opinion your name makes hardly any difference to your success, and that the economic status of parents is by far the biggest indicator of future outcomes for kids.

MortifiedAdams Wed 14-Aug-13 12:10:13

I think Mollie-Mae or Jayden will be more likely to be judged by their names than Swaminee or Samir.

It says more about the judger than it does the person themselves.

oldnewmummy Wed 14-Aug-13 14:50:13

Lol, just googled James Caan.

The actor (from The Godfather etc.) has always been called James Caan.

The one who changed his name was some bloke on Dragons' Den.

Moknicker Wed 14-Aug-13 15:03:22

Ive got a foreign name and while it is difficult for people to pronounce, it has in fact frequently become a ice breaker as I laugh about the number of tries it takes to say my name properly.

No it has never held me back but that's because i never expected it to.

I think this is one of the self fulfilling prophecies - if you think your name is holding you back it probably will but if you dont then it probably wont.

Having said that, it probably makes a difference if you live in a big cosmopolitan city like London instead of a small village somewhere.

SoupDragon Wed 14-Aug-13 15:05:01

oldnewmummy I did the same grin

I'm torn - it's a massive shame for people to lose the name aspect of the culture they've come from, and for everyone to end up with a small subset of names that are easy to pronounce and spell for Anglophones.

On the other hand I grew up with a Scottish surname no one could spell right first time, and specifically gave DD the Anglicised version of her French first name (just French in origin, not an unusual name in the UK, we have no French connections) because I knew she'd go through life having to correct people's spelling otherwise.

SabrinaMulhollandJjones Wed 14-Aug-13 15:22:28

I don't think they should have to change their names.

Saying that, though, I had a boss who was recruiting a sales manager. He interviewed a man called 'Colin Brown' who, when he turned up, was of Asian origin. Said manager complained to me that he was 'deceitful' and that his name was obviously not 'Colin.' Went on and on about it. I was shock and angry

OneLittleToddleTerror Wed 14-Aug-13 15:28:44

sabrina really [shocked]. Can he really tell if someone is mixed race? I can imagine the UK might even have some Asians with only a British paternal grandfather! My boss's daughter is half Asian and I honestly think she looks totally Asian. Maybe I'm just not that good at picking up ancestry as your sales manager hmm. Like Alexa Chung. I think she looks totally white. Maybe this manager will also say she is deceitful as she couldn't be a Chung!

Kezztrel Wed 14-Aug-13 15:36:55

Wow Sabrina, what an absolute tool. I know a couple of people who that manager would consider to be 'of Asian origin' but have completely English names, because they have their white father's surname and an English first name (because they're English and were born in England!) That's the thing - a person as stupid as your manager is hopefully not going to be particularly influential, long-term, in other people's lives, so ultimately having a non-English name/look won't matter, if you're good at what you do.

thegreylady Wed 14-Aug-13 15:46:22

I tutored 2 children from Hong Kong they had both been given British names and also had Chinese names.The girl had a name more usually given to boys in this country.Both dc answered to both names but told me they much preferred to use their 'British' names at school.

SabrinaMulhollandJjones Wed 14-Aug-13 15:49:02

Oh yes - he was a tool. I wasn't there for much longer thank god, but he was a sexist, racist dinosaur.

'Colin' was definitely Asian - but with a crisp English accent. The sad thing was (I thought) that people try and tackle racism by adopting an English name - but if you're not white, then with people like my boss, it still doesn't matter.

I strongly suspect that if his CV had come in with a name like 'Patel' on it, he wouldn't have even got an interview sad

Kezztrel Wed 14-Aug-13 15:59:10

You see my DH looks completely Asian, but as his mum is white, he has an English accent and speaks no other languages, and has never been to Asia in his life, it's pretty annoying when people label him as Asian and assume he has some kind of interesting non-English 'heritage' going on. Beyond the fact that his dad, who's been in England for 50 years, cooked the odd curry when they were growing up, he has the same cultural background as most white English people. it's not a major problem or anything, just irritated that he's never seen as English. One woman once commented on how good his English accent is FFS.

Kezztrel Wed 14-Aug-13 16:03:46

Sorry, my last post was not exactly very relevant to the thread smile It's just all the talk of maintaining 'heritage' by not giving English names etc is not always important or meaningful to people who aren't white.

Sollers Wed 14-Aug-13 16:05:23

"I'm Irish, living in Ireland and I think that those giving their children Irish names (with complicated, un obvious spelling) are fettering their children unnecessarily. I had friends who emigrated in the 80's who had to change their names - or the spelling of their names. My children have names that are easy to pronounce and (hopefully) spell for that very reason, yet they go to school with the likes of Caoimbhe, Muireann, Donnchadh, Beibhinn, Blaithin, Aoibheann, Caoileann, Feichinn, Naoishe, Oileann, Roise, Sadhb, Tadhg, and the like who will have to spell their names day in day out (even if they stay in rural Ireland)."

What bollocks. I'm Irish with a very Irish name with fadas and all, and I live in mainland Europe. Yes, I have to spell my name to new people, and nobody gets the pronunciation right first time, but the same happens to my friend Amy, who also has to spell and pronounce her name for new people, what with Amy being a 'foreign' name in this country, and most other non-anglophone countries.

I'm proud of my name and proud that my parents gave me a name that reflects my rich heritage. It hasn't fettered me at all.

Bumblequeen Wed 14-Aug-13 16:10:36

I know people who have even changed their surname. Apparently people feel their job applications will be treated more fairly.

I do not think you should change a child's name. Shortening a name is fine.

JohFlow Wed 14-Aug-13 16:13:48

I lived in Italy for a year on a teaching exchange programme. When I was in the classroom I was asked to call the children by their 'English' names (which often were far from the original Italian in sound) and my name was changed into its Italian equivalent 'Giovanna'.

From my part; it made me mad at first as I am very proud of my name and what it represents. I am very proud of my nationality and want to be known as British wherever I go. I was aware that I was treated very differently as a 'straniere' (stranger/foreigner) whilst there.

For others; I believe it is a personal choice what they prefer to be called. If they feel more integrated with an 'English' name then so be it.

There is still an idea out there that changing your name makes you integrate into local culture better. Does this mean that in the U.K. we may be less tolerant than we anticipate - or it this an idea that is generated purely overseas?

It's certainly an interesting topic to pursue. I am not sure of any answers yet.

Kezztrel Wed 14-Aug-13 16:14:07

Totally agree Sollers. I've always had to spell my name for people. They get over it.

lovestogarden Wed 14-Aug-13 16:27:03

It's a personal choice I suppose.

DH has a foreign name and its not bothered him too much. His mum anglicised her name briefly as she got fed up spelling it, but that lasted for about a week!

We have friends who have Italian and French names on their birth certs (born here to foreign parents) who answer to their original or anglicised versions of their names.

DS answers to any version of his very british name. My name is frequently frenchified (more popular over there), or made to sound italian by my italian friends. I even have a japanese version by a korean friend.

My Sri Lankan friend - born in ther UK (and her siblings) has a very traditional name. She is very very posh english though! Her parents (born in Sri Lanka) have names similar to Hilda and Frank (I kid you not - must've been the fashion in the 1930s).

We live in London - maybe its a weird london thing!

I wonder how much difference there is in people's feelings about having to spell their names vs having to correct people? I've always thought 'how do you spell that?' would be far less irritating than people assuming they could spell your name, but getting it wrong - my maiden name is by far the most common variant but unfortunately for my sanity the famous person it belonged to spelled it one of the other ways and people would use either that or some made-up version. I suspect if you have a name no one even thinks they can spell without asking it's just as annoying really.

lovestogarden Wed 14-Aug-13 18:47:25

My very british surname is spelled exactly the way it is said. Even when I say it to people they still try to overcomplicate it and throw in random letters!

DHs name, is exactly the same - spelled exactly as pronounced, but mainly mispronounced. His/our surname for some reason, is always mispronounced (italianised for some reason) and part of the last part missed out.

People are so odd!

mayihaveaboxofchoculaits Thu 15-Aug-13 15:43:46

Same as Loves, if it doesn't matter, then rather than repeat then spell my name. I just say "smith", works in cafes etc

lovestogarden Thu 15-Aug-13 20:20:51

But do they spell it with a 'y'?

Frikadellen Thu 15-Aug-13 21:58:17

Dh and I deliberately aimed for names that was pronounced the same in Danish and English. We didn't wish for them to need 2 different names..

However I am unsure I would have gone as far as to give names that were unheard of in ether language.

Cheerymum Mon 19-Aug-13 10:30:41

My husband came to the UK as an adult as is now commonly known as Jay rather than Jesus. It just provoked too much sniggering to be manageable!
We are choosing names for our children that are either the same in English and Spanish, or easily pronounceable/manageable if a bit exotic in one or the other. I think this is the best approach if having a new baby.
Difficult regarding "renaming" people with established names - nicknames can be easier, but at the end of the day it's that person's choice what to be called. Oh, and the CV thing - sad but true that it can make a difference IMHO.
I keep my maiden name at work, though that partly has to do with not wanting to throw away an academic track record of publications.

ellesabe Wed 21-Aug-13 13:51:38

I had this recently with an African lady that I met recently. She introduced herself to me as Grace. So I called her Grace, referred to her as Grace and knew her as Grace...until I heard someone else call her a completely different name.

Rather awkward conversation followed...
Me: I thought her name was Grace.
Other person: No it's ...(insert other name)
Me: But she told me she's called Grace.
Other person: Oh, that's weird...(Grace arrives) Why did you tell Ellesabe that your name is Grace?
Grace: Oh, I just thought Grace would be easier for someone like her to remember and pronounce shock

Someone like her??? I still have no idea what she meant and was a little insulted that she felt I wouldn't be able to cope with her real name!

Fraxinus Wed 21-Aug-13 18:46:15

Not read the whole thread, but wanted to say that while it is sensible to choose names that work in both languages, if migrants are anglicising their names a lot, it makes it harder for those who don't.

the more used to hearing foreign names we are, the more normal it gets to hear them, and the less of a problem should become in terms of discrimination.

I know Germans living in the uk during the 30's and 40's often anglicised their names, and you can see the reason for it. I would hope the environment has moved on since then.

Br0na Wed 21-Aug-13 18:50:50

I don't know......... mixed feelings, you can't control what other people think, or how another name is viewed. I would have called my children Diarmuid and Clodagh if we were in Ireland but in England I was afraid that an ancient Irish name from a legend would be labelled chav. So I went down the Frederick / Eleanor direction instead. Their country of birth strongly influenced the decision-making. But that was based on my fears of a lack of control over other people's prejudices. Maybe I should have thought fuck it.

Join the discussion

Join the discussion

Registering is free, easy, and means you can join in the discussion, get discounts, win prizes and lots more.

Register now