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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?


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

Message withdrawn at poster's request.

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

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