Category: cross-cultural names

Baby Name Advice: Straddling two cultures

naming multicultural child

By Beth Grimm

As the proud mummy of two, soon to be three, bilingual children, who attend international school and are exposed to multiple cultures on a daily basis, I am constantly reminded of the need to consider the implications of names. The wrong name could cause frustration for family members or even ridicule of the child. So what factors should you consider?

Pronunciation – It is important to be aware how the name will be pronounced by different family members, dependent on their native language. Having lived in Central and Eastern Europe most of my adult life, I frequently confront the difficulty in pronouncing the ‘th’ sound in my name, Bethany. My counterpart may think it’s fine to call me, a woman in her thirties, Betty; I, as a Brit, think of an elderly lady with permed hair.

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Muslim-and-Christians-Married

In this perceptive and illuminating guest blog, Zaira Shaal confronts the naming issues facing interfaith parents.

My boyfriend and I have talked about having kids a few times, and the main topic is always what we would name them. He is Muslim, I am Catholic, and while we are both Pakistani, we have very different ideas about the names we like.

We both grew up in North America and now live in London, England so there is added pressure to ensure our children’s names can be pronounced by their friends and colleagues as they grow. Our own names, Waqas (Wuh-kaas) and Zaira (rhymes with Tyra not Sara), have proved difficult for peers to handle over the years so we are sensitive to this.

While he prefers names like Khalil and Omar for boys – and hasn’t really thought about naming a girl – I have always loved names like Audrey and Grace, Adam and Jacob. We came to a compromise and came up with a list of names that work for both religions. This also appeases both sets of parents and ensures our kids all have uniform sounding names. I don’t want one Matthew and one Mohammed.

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Would you use a name from another culture?

multicult2

This is the nameberry question of the week: Would you  give your child a name from an ethnicity other than your own?

….more specifically, would you choose a name which has not been fully integrated into Anglo-American nomenclature and would be in contrast to your surname?

Sometimes this can make for a felicitous combination–one example  that springs to mind is newscaster Soledad O’Brien.  And there are certainly plenty of Seans and Ryans with non-Gaelic/Celtic surnames.

But how about you?  If your last name was Magee, would you name your son Adriano?

If your surname was Greenberg, would you call your daughter Siobhan?

Or do you feel that a child’s name should reflect his/her own ethnic ancestry?

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