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Thread: (Very) Foreign Names
August 17th, 2013 10:27 PM #6Senior Member
- Join Date
- Jun 2010
I think it depends on the name. Names and cultural appropriation can be an issue, but there is a HUGE gray area. Some names clearly cross the line- Cohen, for example- while others don't (Noam, from the same culture as Cohen, is probably fine.) In the middle it's very, very difficult to tell. If you speak the language the name comes from, you're probably okay. Otherwise it would depend on the name.
Also remember that naming practices vary greatly between cultures. Asian languages put the family name first, for example, and other cultures have rules regarding who can get what name and even what constitutes a given name. Typically we think of names as a group of syllables that does not mean anything in everyday language, but that's not true everywhere. In many cultures names are just common words. Some peoples have rules that no two individuals can have the same name, so parents must be very, very creative. Other cultures have only about 100 given names to choose from in total. It's all very interesting- I'd suggest doing more research into it!
September 11th, 2013 02:46 AM #8Member
- Join Date
- Sep 2013
Cultural appropriation... you know how many people in the world appropriate western culture? Granted some places just have it forced on them which is a different story, but the fact remains that no one is apologizing about trying to be western, so don't worry too much about picking up bits of theirs. Be aware of the name's history and the history between your culture and the culture you are borrowing from. Don't be kitsch if you can avoid it. Maybe ask a bunch of people you know of that culture what they think of the name.
We are all just humans, paying too much attention to what little divides us is wasted effort. So one person thinks you're appropriating another's culture, another might be honoured that you think highly enough of their culture to choose names from it.
I love the Arabic pronunciation of Gabriel, and I'm just a Canadian with mixed European ancestry. I got the okay from one Arab friend on faceboook to use the name so I'm just going to frame that and pretend she represents all of the Arab world. Haha :P
In the end does the name even really matter? Your kid will be whomever they choose to be, the name you give them won't stop them. If people get hung up on the name they'd just as easily get hung up on their clothes, beauty or other equally superficial facet. So give them a cool foreign name and maybe teach them about what you love in that culture. They can share that when people ask probing questions.
September 11th, 2013 04:17 AM #10
As long as its easy to read, spell & pronounce I say go for it. The only names I would avoid are names that are highly significant to another culture or religion that you are not a member of. For example a religious Muslim name or something if you're not Muslim. You don't want to come off as ignorant or irreverent, but I think it's totally fine to take names from different origins as long as it won't be super controversial. Our daughter is named Azula (taken from the Spanish Azul, but lots of people think the origin is South African - Zulu). We're considering Athena or Indira for our next daughter & we're white as it gets.Azula Rosemary 1 July 2012
Expecting 2 January 2014
September 11th, 2013 04:27 AM #12Senior Member
- Join Date
- May 2013
I don't think it would be weird at all! I'm of Slavic heritage but I love Iceland and its language, so many names on my own list are Icelandic. I agree that there are certain names that can strike a person as "stereotypically foreign", I guess that's where "cultural appropriation" comes in. I love a number of Middle Eastern names, many girl names have really beautiful meanings. I particularly like old Sumerian / Mesopotamian mythology and am tempted to draw from these cultures as well. They would need to be easily pronounceable though.