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To use a 'foreign' name for DC?

(153 Posts)
TrueBlu Sun 06-Mar-16 18:49:46

There has been some debate in recent months about names you can/can't use on baby names.

So my question is, is it ur to use a name when you have no connection to its country of origin. Would you be appropriating the culture it came from?

Also, when is it 'okay' to Anglicise names?

E.g. I could use Connor instead of Conchobhar, or Neve instead of Niamh, but not Zanthe instead of Xanthe or Eefa instead of Aoife.

carabos Sun 06-Mar-16 19:17:56

I think you can use any name you like, from wherever - even make one up BUT my SiL gave both her DSs foreign names from cultures to which she has absolutely no connection and they do sound very very odd with her surname. They're not even nice names iyswim. They're both hmm confused and one of them is laugh out loud ridiculous. So give it a bit of thought.

As to "appropriating the culture" - that's just BS IMO.

mycatsloveeachother Sun 06-Mar-16 19:20:21

With any name, along with accent, how you present yourself, and so on, you are essentially telling people about yourself and your background.

Names indicate sex, where you are from, your social class (or the one you were born into) and sometimes give a storing indication of roughly when you were born.

It doesn't make it hugely important, but it does.

HappinessLivesHere Sun 06-Mar-16 19:20:36

I think it's very dependant on the name/country of origin. For example a French name may be a little peculiar if you're not in France or French. The names you've previously mentioned are Irish and the more 'well known' ones are commonly used despite not being in Ireland/Irish

PortobelloRoad Sun 06-Mar-16 19:35:08

For example a French name may be a little peculiar if you're not in France or French.

Like Bernadette, Adele, Marie etc? They've all become pretty normal names.


It;s fine as long as it's not too stark. I think calling a white blonde catholic child Abdul or something could seem a bit strange but there's nothing wrong with it exactly. I'm middle eastern and I love hearing all the names that people here in the UK have adopted. Particularly the prettier girls names from my culture, they're nice. I don't find it appropriative at all.

I really feel that cultural appropriation is largely driven by white middle class western people who have hand wringing guilt. In my experience none of my friends from the ME or other "ethic" cultures give a fuck.

Kennington Sun 06-Mar-16 19:39:48

I think it is only if the pronunciation is completely different to the spelling it can confuse, e.g Jorge in Spanish
In the UK most people are used to Irish names so that isn't a concern.
Go with what you like - people get used to these things pretty fast.

Pippidoeswhatshewants Sun 06-Mar-16 19:49:39

As long as you can justify the "foreign" name to yourself it should be fine.

Having said that, a friend of mine gave her dd a Japanese name because she worked there for a while. English rose-like Yumiko Smith now lives in Milton Keynes (names and places changed, but you get the idea) and I still find it odd.

TrueBlu Sun 06-Mar-16 19:52:35

I rather like the name Saorise. It's said 'Seersha' but apparently that's a real no-no to spell it as such, or even use it in fact as I'm not Irish.

Likewise I love Xanthe but the 'X' does bother me.

DD has a Hebrew/Arabic name which is not unheard of here, I have a Greek name which was very rare but is now ragingly popular!

alleypalley Sun 06-Mar-16 20:00:06

Dd1's name is Jewis (as is mine), dd2's name is Russian. I am neither Jewish or Russian. Use whatever name you like.

TiredButFineODFOJ Sun 06-Mar-16 20:02:19

I think in english people think Xanthe is pronounced Zanthe, but it's not pronounced that way in Greek. Ξ or x is pronounced 'ks which isn't even a letter in the latin alphabet.

EssentialHummus Sun 06-Mar-16 20:04:57

As someone who will likely end up with Russian-named DCs (DP is Russian, so they'll at least have a mouthful of a patronymic and last name) I am bemused when people choose Russian names for English DC. But each to their own really. Just make sure it doesn't sound absurd a la pippi's example.

TrueBlu Sun 06-Mar-16 20:06:34

Ksanthe would likely be said Ka-santhe, I think Zanthe is the closest translation for an English tongue.

Dd's name ends in 'a' over here, but in Hebrew it ends in 'ch' as in Loch. People would have difficulty pronouncing it exactly.

TrueBlu Sun 06-Mar-16 20:08:35

I think there are a lot of very beautiful Russian names and I wouldn't be bemused if someone wanted to use one.

redexpat Sun 06-Mar-16 20:19:35

I really struggle with this. I live in Denmark where you have to choose an approved name from a (fairly comprehensive actually) list. The general rule is that if you are Danish, you have to pick a Danish name. If you are forrin' you can pick a Danish name, or one from your own culture, but not one from another culture. So the Philippino woman in my Danish class and her Danish husband weren't allowed to call their child Wyatt, because it's American. Mine have v traditional English first names, Danish middle and surnames. When you register their names you have to use a drop down menu to explain your choice of middle name. I can't remember the other options, but I know I had to choose name from mother's side of the family or something along those lines. I can't imagine having the world of possibilities (quite literally) that you have in the UK!

TrueBlu Sun 06-Mar-16 20:48:53

Oh wow Red, that's a pretty strict system. Do you mean you struggle with the Danish system or you struggle with people using foreign names?

redexpat Mon 07-Mar-16 01:02:10

I struggle with the freedom you guys have! I can't imagine having so much choice!

DingbatsFur Mon 07-Mar-16 01:13:36

Oh don't give your child a foreign sounding name. It's torture for the child.

EveOnline2016 Mon 07-Mar-16 01:19:57

I'm Welsh my Dc haven't got Welsh names.

Name the child what you want.

Carpaccio Mon 07-Mar-16 01:28:36

Redexpat, Wyatt is approved in Denmark. There also is no Danish law saying you have to pick a name from your own culture or a traditional Danish name.
If you want a name that isn't on the list of approved names, you can apply to get it added.

nocoolnamesleft Mon 07-Mar-16 01:36:21

*I really feel that cultural appropriation is largely driven by white middle class western people who have hand wringing guilt.^

I'd never even heard of cultural appropriation until some native american friends explained why they were so hacked off about it.

IHaveBrilloHair Mon 07-Mar-16 01:41:25

You can name them whatever you want, there's no right or wrong as such but remember they will have to live with it.
I named my DD Niamh, we are not Irish and have no connection with Ireland, and she/me have issues explaining the spelling and pronunciation but I've never regretted it, I love her name, and she does too.
She has a very well known middle name, Elizabeth, with such a variety of shortenings she can always use that should she want.
Or change it to Roger by deed poll grin

NoncommittalToSparkleMotion Mon 07-Mar-16 01:55:52

I really don't think it matters on the whole. Individual people might get huffy about it but it'd just show their pettiness.

A former coworker of mine gave her daughter a very traditional Greek name that I can't spell or pronounce properly. She and her husband are not Greek, and in fact have a very common English surname. They don't care. Why should anyone else?

BillSykesDog Mon 07-Mar-16 02:26:20

A lot of non Irish people are using Saorise now. But the trick is to make sure that you're pronouncing it right. DH is Irish and a friend of ours has used it and the mangle it shockingly and don't even pronounce it the same way every time. Also they sometimes pronounce exactly as they have heard some Irish people say it eg with a local accent, and they sound like an English person putting on a comedy Irish accent. Also with Saorise anglicising it is a bit of a no-no because it means 'freedom' and is heavily associated with the Republican movement (Saorise is the name of Sinn Fein's magazine) so they very act of anglicising it strips it of it's meaning and shows an ignorance of the history, culture and meaning behind it. But I'm not aware of Irish people being generally offended by non Irish people using it as long as they do so with a bit of nous about pronunciation and background (eg Saorise Elizabeth would be a bit silly).

I was looking at names today and I was thinking about the same issue. My personal preference is to look into the background of the name and it's usage to see if it is appropriate or not. Niamh for example means 'bright' and isn't tied into the republican movement particularly so is more neutral.

hogbreath Mon 07-Mar-16 02:51:19

People can call there kids whatever they want and use whatever spelling they want, just don't crack the shits when others can't pronounce or spell it.

NinjaLeprechaun Mon 07-Mar-16 03:06:47

"A lot of non Irish people are using Saorise now. But the trick is to make sure that you're pronouncing it right."
Or spelling it right. It's Saoirse, not Saorise.
Which is always one issue you have to consider with "unusual" names, can people spell it, and how upset will you/the child get if people can't? Hell, never mind unusual, my daughter is Megan and people get it wrong more often than you'd expect.

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