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  1. #1
    Join Date
    Feb 2014
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    Reykjavík
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    909

    Having "two" names depending on context?

    For those of you who have lived abroad, or are the child of parents from two different countries/cultures, or otherwise have family abroad... Do any of you have a name that exists in both cultures, but is pronounced differently? As an example: a boy called Thomas who lives in the USA, but his mother is French. Let's say when he's at home his name is pronounced in the English way, but when he goes to France everyone else says it the French way. Or his father and other Americans say it the English way but his mother and other French people say it the French way. Does anybody have experience with this sort of situation? Would it / does it bother you at all, or how would you feel about being called two different things? Would it be like some people are saying your name "wrong"?

    I mean, a lot of kids already change names based on context - a girl is Nicola when she's with her grandparents but Nikki with her friends or something like that. But I don't know, is this different? Could it be confusing for a child's identity, or might it conversely help them to feel positive about their multicultural background?

    I ask because one of the names that I absolutely love and would potentially be eager to use despite its popularity here in Iceland is Róbert. It would be easily recognisable for everyone in his family and everyone he met in both countries. Here it is pronounced ROE-bairt, but I know of course everyone in England would automatically say Robert. I would probably use the Icelandic pronunciation even though I would definitely speak English to any children I had, but I was thinking, would it really matter if my parents and family just said Robert and he had a slightly different name for English contexts? Theoretically I could teach family otherwise, but I see a lot of benefits in a name that they would not really see as foreign, and not having to correct everyone else we met. After all, any child of mine will be English, if only half English. I mean, their last names would be weird enough, there's no saving them from the fact that nobody is going to be able to say those outside of Iceland.

    That was a bit rambly, but I hope you understand what I mean
    Last edited by jackal; February 16th, 2014 at 11:16 AM.

  2. #3
    Join Date
    Feb 2014
    Location
    Reykjavík
    Posts
    909
    Hmm, maybe people don't quite get what I mean considering the number of views vs answers... I'm not great at explaining my confusion on this matter. To try and simplify:

    Is it OK to have a name that changes slightly in spelling and/or pronunciation when you are with certain people? Or does it then stop being "your" name somehow?

    Just trying to work out in my mind if it would be worth it even suggesting something like Róbert, which is familiar but deceptively so.

  3. #5
    Join Date
    Mar 2012
    Posts
    4,793
    My parents both have names like you are talking about - related international "doubles." It doesn't bother them at all. I know my mom especially is rather fond of hers and I think my dad is just very easy-going about the whole thing. Their English names are very very mainstream for their birth decade. (My dad's name was #1 for boys in the US for like thirty years straight, my mom's is quintessential 1950s).

    For me, my name changes a lot more than that. My English name doesn't bear any true relationship. I would like if my two sets of names were a teensy bit more related, actually. It would be easier to explain "this is the Icelandic form of Robert" than "well you see there's a tradition and the initials relate and my great-grandfather used this OTHER-other name and this relates to... [five minutes later] ...but in English I just use Robert."

    Anyway, I find it no more contrived than having multiple nicknames and I think it's a nice cultural nod. Sorry for going on. I just had to reply because you had no replies.

  4. #7
    Join Date
    Feb 2014
    Location
    Reykjavík
    Posts
    909
    Thank you so much, that was exactly the sort of experience I wanted to hear about. Thanks for sharing it with me I don't like it when people pronounce my name incorrectly over here, but I'm not Icelandic and I didn't grow up here so I think it's a different situation. I just don't like to imagine a child being upset about Grandpa "getting his name wrong" or being confused about why it would change. Probably just paranoia haha.

    I also realised my current preferences make no nod towards England or Englishness at all, which is a little bit sad to me when I think about it.
    Last edited by jackal; February 16th, 2014 at 07:44 PM.

  5. #9
    I have a French name, chosen by my francophone mother, that is still well known in English, much like Robert. My father and his family don't speak French at all, so never pronounce it in the French way (and when my mother speaks to me in English she pronounces it in English). I've always considered both the English and French pronunciations to be correct when spoken in the respective languages. It has never been a problem. I find it strange when people pronounce my name in the French way when speaking English. Spelling hasn't been an issue either, I don't care if the accent is there or not in English since accents aren't used in English. Everyone is different I suppose, but it has really never been a worry for me.

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