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Baby names in tri-lingual family

(16 Posts)
blondecat Thu 04-Nov-10 22:57:37

Hi there
I'm polish British, dh is French we are waiting for our first baby girl.

Choosing a name is proving more difficult than we thought

We thought of something similar in all languages but there are very few - Ada ( taken by my niece), Emma ( taken by his sil) come to mind

Other names we like are spelled somewhat differently and in some cases the spelling becomes unprounancable in one or the other language eg Catharine or any name starting with a C used as a "k" sound is anathema to Polish. While the rz, sz, cz combinations from polish don't work in French and English.
So what do people do since the birth certificate name will be reproduced exactly in all documents?

Any advice much appreciated

Also how to stop your family from using annoying local diminutives? We like Marie but I don't want her called Marysia.

Do you go for one language spelling and pronunciation? Do you mix?

MoonUnitAlpha Thu 04-Nov-10 23:01:12

Anna maybe?

Unfortunately you can't really control nicknames/pet names friends and family use.

noramum Thu 04-Nov-10 23:43:40

I would suggest you look for a name you and DH like and which is pronounceable and easy to spell in the country you live in. Forget the relatives.

We are German and it took a lot of time, two lists and two purely English speaking colleagues to find a girl and a boy name.

On top of everything we wanted a name you can't shorten.

We ended up with Nora, how about that?

We also like Laura but that's my niece's name.

cory Fri 05-Nov-10 08:11:21

Another way is to compromise on the pronunciation. Both my dcs have Swedish names that we liked. Yes, it means that they have to hear them mispronounced, but they just accept that there are now two pronunciations of their names. With dd, we took pains chose a name that had another form in English, so we used the Swedish form when speaking Swedish and the English form when speaking English. This worked very well until she started school and then everybody just used the (Swedish) name that was down on the register. And now she is a teen, she has a nickname that is totally out of our control- part of growing up.

abeautifulbutterfly Fri 05-Nov-10 08:25:20

We are a British Polish family living in Poland but with lots of family ties in the UK so wanted Polish names but easily pronounceable ones. We went for Milena for DD1 - thought it was easy, even sent out pronunciation guides with the birth announcement cards ("say like "Millenna" as in millenium) but still, 7 years on, half the family call her "My-leena" and the other half spell it wrong...
DD2 is Pola (again, pron. guide "Pollah" went out with birth announcement, but half call her "Poola" and the other half spell it wrong).
But we don't regret names and if people can't spell when it's written out for them then that's their problem not ours. We just giggle at my auntie who can't get the pronunciation right...
If DC3 ever comes along will be Ruta or Dorota with Ruthie or Dolly as NN. We have assumed we're not chosen to be parents of boys but Bruno is our longstanding choice (that would work well in French too!)

Hexagon Fri 05-Nov-10 19:14:24

I think the problem is that in Polish names for girls tend to end in an "a" where as they tend not to in French.
How about Zara, Maria, Anita?
We had the same problem looking for a name that was Arabic, Polish and English.

roundthehouses Fri 05-Nov-10 19:29:01

for both ds1 and ds2 we have chosen english names that are easy to pronounce correctly (and actually almost impossible to pronounce incorrectly) in both languages.

ds1´s name is a boy´s name in english and unfortunately most often confused for the feminine version in spanish (though it is spelt differently). People do always comment "isn´t that a girl´s name?" but quite happily accept the explanation that it isn´t in english. No one ever calls him by the spanish equivalent. They just don´t and if they did I wouldn´t hesitate to correct them. If I´d called him Pedro or pablo I wouldn´t expect english people to call them Peter or Paul, your name is your name exactly as it is given to you, not how different languages choose to translate it! (imvho)

I think the shorter the better (like your examples Ada and Emma), less room for error!

Nightsdrawingin Fri 05-Nov-10 20:08:36

My name is mispronounced by almost everyone I know and it's just an English name! I don't mind at all, just see it as part of the richness of the name, I am still finding new pronunciations of it and I'm 34. In fact I think one of the reasons why it gets pronounced differently is because it exists in lots of different languages. It also gets mis-spelled a lot of the time. So it's not just a problem with multi-lingual families and I would just go for something you like and can live with.

NightFury Fri 05-Nov-10 20:23:00

Well, we are a mix of English and German speaking nationalities and with DD we spent ages choosing a name that was the same in both languages - Matilda. So the English speaking side of the family promptly started calling her Tilly and the German speaking side stuck to Matilda!

When DS came along I we choose a traditional Scottish name which is, unfortunately, difficult to pronouce for the German speakers and they have shortened it to a nickname which I am not so keen on since it is a girl's name in French and we live in a country where French is widely spoken. Ho hum...

So, no useful advice at all really except choose a name that you like!

AussieCelt Sat 06-Nov-10 02:30:37

Odds on whatever you do, things will evolve organically. My Scottish Gaelic name is murdered by French speakers, so as a child I found out what the French version was and asked francophones to call me by that name, and when I introduce myself in French I use the French version of the name.

Gaelic speakers will generally translate names (both first and surnames) so Seumas will be James in English, Aonghas will be Angus, Seonad will be Janet etc. I've also noticed that Greeks in English speaking countries do the same thing - Dimitri will be James/Jim, Ianni will be John etc. Names are just an extension of bilingualism for inherently bilingual communities.

blondecat Sun 07-Nov-10 22:34:18

Thank you all

I think I need to resign myself to both families doing what they will

Anna, Emma and Ada are all taken in our family which is a shame since they'd be perfect. But I think it's more important that a child has a unique name not shared with first cousin/ aunt / mother

thistlemuncher Thu 11-Nov-10 20:14:59

We're English, French and German speaking here...so we went for a Greek name!

scouserabroad Thu 11-Nov-10 20:23:51

We're English / French / Arabic speaking and had two girls so managed to find names that fit in all three languages. If we'd had boys it would have been more difficult so would have just gone for names that we liked, making sure we didn't pick one that was totally unpronounceable.

Don't know about Poland but surely now since there are people of so many different backgrounds living in England and France, almost everyone is used to hearing "different" names and just learn to say them when they need to?

Mayandbump23 Thu 02-Dec-10 09:23:26

There are some names that are fairly international (Anna, Max, Oliver, Emma etc) in both spelling and pronounciation so you could choose one of those. Otherwise it depends on whether you're more bothered about correct spelling or correct pronounciation. A friend of mine wanted a Finnish name for her son but the spelling of the name she had chosen would have meant that English people would have pronounced it wrong. To her the correct pronounciation was more important (as they live in England) so she just changed the spelling of the name so that it is easier for English people to pronounce correctly (but Finnish people will still know what the name is supposed to be).

mamaloco Sat 04-Dec-10 12:08:53

We are british/french/swedish, we chose a french name and a russian one (we didn't like the swedish ones, but swedish side had ancestors with russian names). The family complained a lot but now loves the names (with some mispronounciation but honestly who cares!)
DH's family name is soo british we didn't need to make a point of it with another first name.
Nobody has shorten our long names yet. Both DDs are known by their full name.
It was hard to find names we both liked though even more for the second one! (we agreed straight away for boys, but no luck on that!)
Good luck

mamaloco Sat 04-Dec-10 12:16:13

Eva, olivia, marina, tatiana, nadia, natasha, sasha, barbara (it will be mumbled in english though!) they all work in french or you can use a french name and add the final a instead of the e.
nathalia, isabella, amelia, veronica, angelica, sylvia, sabina, ... (brain freezes)

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