1 мая 2012 г.

Say my name

I had known our receptionist as Lilu since I started working in the hotel till the day she came and told us she was not Lilu anymore but Ashley. At first I thought she was joking but after a few weeks got used to her new name and now can hardly believe that Ashley had ever been Lilu. However, Ashley has not only been Lilu but had at least one more name her Chinese parents had given her. As some foreign names sound weird to English speakers, immigrants are usually suggested to anglicize them if possible or, if not, take another one.  
Being lucky to have got an international name, I had never thought about creating a new one for the purposes of living abroad. On the contrary, the first time in a foreign country I insisted on people calling me Masha as I had got used to it at home. It was later when I discovered that Masha sounded friendlier than the official Maria for me but not for everyone. Moreover, to my surprise it could even have bad associations in other languages. So after a girl told me my name was funny because it sounded like mashed potato, another said that in her native language it meant something like poker’ and, finally, my Portuguese supervisor kindly suggested I stop using that ugly nickname while my original true name was so beautiful I gave up the idea of being Masha abroad. When in Rome, do as the Romans do.
Meanwhile, some of my Maori and Polynesian colleagues have really unique names which their parents invented for them: Temukisa, Te Okeroa, Tarawhai, Winter, or Euphrate. Interestingly, most of these names sounds exotic not only for foreigners but for locals as well. There is no other Temukisa or Tarawhai among the friends or relatives of Temukisa and Tarawhai, and on asking why their parents chose such unusual names for them the answer was because their parents had a fantasy. As a result, it certainly took time for our international team to get used to Tarawhai, who at first was called ‘Ta’, ‘Tara’ or even ‘Terrified’. However, now it is hard to imagine another more beautiful and melodious name.
My husband also told me an interesting story. When his new Chinese colleague, who had recently moved to New Zealand, introduced her daughter to a local Child Care Centre using an English version of the Chinese name, the staff asked for her daughter’s native name. Never mind how hard and unusual it sounds, they would teach other children to pronounce the name correctly, as it is so important for a little girl to keep her own identity, on the one hand, and encourage other kids to become accustomed to difference, on the other.

12 комментариев:

  1. While I was reading, one story came to my mind) For finnish as for other foreigners my name sounds quite difficult - KSenia, so I'm used to be Senia or Senja. And once our teacher wrote on the blackboard our names for some game, and my groupmates asked: "Who is KSenia????" )))))
    I do believe that our names have meanings. and I find it cute and touching that parents "have fantasy" (adequate one, of course) and I respect teachers who intend on calling children by own native names. Of course it's quite difficult "to be different", with name unusual for locals. But it's our nature and our roots. So, firstly I reflected on changing my name as Senja/Senia, but now I want to be Ksenia, as I was called by my parents.

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    1. That's a funny story:) Personally, I like your name, especially Ksyusha, but of course it's not the easiest popular Russian name for foreigners to pronounce. At the same time you're learning their language so they can at least learn your name:) By the way, have you ever accepted Oksana as your name? I know that some people believe that Ksenia and Oksana are two variants of the same name. What do you think?

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    2. Маша,я вчера написала ответ, но почему-то сейчас его нет( Пишу по-русски, по-английски сил нет))))
      Я тоже думаю, почему бы людям не осилить пару звуков, ведь я учу целый их язык. Но, видимо, я просто сама не настаивала. Хотя Ксюшей мне быть куда приятнее, чем Ксенией. В полной версии мне слышится что-то сУрьезное и сильно зрелое, что не совсем про меня.
      Насчет имени Оксана.. Я всегда яро протестовала, когда люди говорили, что это два одинаковых имени. Может, Оксан и называют Ксюшами, но я не хочу быть Оксаной, ибо я Ксения))) Ну какие же это одинаковые имена?...

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    3. Ксюш, мне на почту пришел твой комментарий, но здесь почему-то не отразился:( Ты права, Оксана и Ксюша совсем не похожи. Так же как впрочем мало общего в Александре и Саше, Дмитрии и Диме, да тех же Марии и Маше... Иностранцы не перестают дивиться:)

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    4. Я именно Оксана, и американцы тоже испытывали трудности с произношением, и звали меня ОкЗа(э)на )) Хотя некоторые из них трудились произносить правильно. Так что я согласна, что не стоит коверкать свое имя в угоду кому-то, ну или хотя бы не кардинально!

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    5. ...ведь имя, каждая его буква, несет смысловую нагрузку - искренне в это верю!

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  2. Сохранить свое имя, по-моему, очень важно. Во время переезда и обживания на новом месте в чужой стране и так теряется достаточно много, чтобы еще и собственное имя потерять. Конечно, нужно учитывать некоторые особенности, о которых, впрочем, ты написала. Мое полное имя, например, по-итальянски значит "курица", круто, да?)

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    1. Галя, про курицу рассмешила! Так вот откуда значит "ГалИна Бланка":) У меня мама тоже, кстати, Галина. Люблю это имя.

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  3. Masha, I believe a name means a lot for a man. I read it even could change your life (a very popular in Russia phychotherapist Vladimir Levi wrote in his book about a case when he was working with a woman in depression, and they discovered she didn't change her surname of her now former husband. So she did change it then, and became a happier person. It helped her change her life from scratch.) With me its very similar, also with surnames, not names - but it's very close! Once I became Shilova - it just tickles me to think how I love the surname and how its mine. If you change your name then you should be ready (to my strong belief) for a life change, maybe your attitude to something important in your life, maybe just the feelings inside. But something will change. It's a difficult question whether we should conform to the reality and change the name. I think why not, if it is really hard to pronounce for those around you, or arouses wrong associations ;-)

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    1. I have the same feeling, Olya, and that's why I don't think it's a good idea to change your name whenever and however you want or anyone else wants. I still feel the difference between being Masha and Maria, even though it is the same name.

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  4. When I was in Auckland I found really hard to remember my chinese and indian friend's names which btw were pretty similar and it took me like one complete month to memorize (Gunindr and Munidr). However, I think It's really important calling people as they real names are, why do they have to change their names? I think it's a show of respect try to remember people's names no matter how hard they would be. I'm sure that if it were in the other way around no one would ask you to change your name. Sometimes the factor of discriminatrion cross my mind, you are not worth naming if you don't have a name easy spelling.

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    1. Hm, discrimination? Probably... I'm not sure but I don't think an Englishman is going to change his name having moved to an Arabic or Asian country... At the same time I remember when we had American students on exchange program in Russia some of them were happy to make their names more Russian - not Cole but Kolya, for example.

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