When we were choosing names for our lil man, I did a lot of research on names. I looked up websites, where people had written about their experiences being named so and so, had they been bullied, did people often misspell their name etc. I started my search for the perfect name from one of the top 100 America's baby names sites. I chose all the names that would be pronounced about the same in both Finnish and English. Then I checked that they didn't mean anything funny and I also checked the initials. I didn't want our child to be ridiculed, because his parents made a bad choice naming him. I tried to be really careful, although I know there is a great chance that at some point our lil man tells us that he hates the name :) Luckily he has three names to choose from!
The reason why I was being very careful was, of course, the fact that I have a name that got made fun of. Not too much, but enough to make me double-check things before naming my child :) The people who joked about my name, probably felt it was harmless teasing. No one ever aggressively bullied me and the joking around ended pretty soon after elementary school. While in general I like my name, I wanted to make sure my son doesn't have to face as many jokes made about his name. When my parents chose my name, they obviously knew it was an "edible" name in English, but they didn't think it would matter. My dad actually loved the name even before I was even born. He named his first sailboat that. So later, I got named after my dad's sailboat haha.
(Even though I made a huge effort to find a good name for our lil man, I met someone whose dog had the exact same name. I think lil man won't mind though :)
After moving to the U.S to go to college, my former Finnish last name (I now have my husband's American one) became the interesting factor about my name. People would often presume things based on my names, or wonder where the name came from. For example, once when I was at a doctor's office, the nurse who called me in looked really surprised, even speechless. She apologized and said she was really dumbfounded when she saw me, because based on my name she had expected an Asian patient. The doctor himself asked me if I had some Italian heritage, since my last name sounded Italian to him. When I told him it was a fairly common Finnish last name, he asked me if I'd ever been to Finland. Well, maybe a couple of times :)
My first name also got some attention. My dorm roommate in Nebraska assumed I was African American based on my first name. It was a bit of a surprise to her when she finally met the blonde Finnish girl :) We'd never talked before we moved in, because my roommate had been busy all summer riding horses and hadn't checked her email. Luckily we got on great!
A while back, Finn For Life posted about "pseudo-names" in her blog. She wrote about how foreign people order coffee from Starbucks and give the cashier a pseudo-name, which the cashier can easily write down. A bunch of my foreign friends did this in the U.S. Some of my Indian friends shortened their long names in to T.J or Mac. Other friends of mine made up entirely new names to themselves, that sounded bit like the original version. For example the Finnish name Jaakko became Jake etc. I also know that some foreign people Americanize their names when they get U.S citizenship, since getting jobs and dealing with everyday issues is easier if you don't have to spell your long name several times before it's written down correctly. During my work placement class in Nebraska, the instructor recommended this Americanization to some of us. She said she wished she didn't have to, but she thought some of us would have better chance of getting an interview, if the company knew how to pronounce our names easily.
Have any of you ever had trouble with your names when abroad? Have people guessed where you're from based on your name and gotten it all wrong? I'd love to hear your stories :)
pics from weheartit.com
Hope everyone is having a fabulous week!