When Giving Your Child an English Name Goes Wrong
For many years, it has been popular in Latin America to give your child an American sounding name, with the hopes that this might make them stand out from the crowd and be more successful. My husband, Carlos, and his siblings, were given traditional Spanish names, so I was surprised the first time I met his cousins and was introduced to a Jonathan, Kathy, Andy and Alex.
Carlos and I have two of our own children, and we chose a middle road by picking “bilingual” names – or names which are easily pronounced and common in both English and Spanish, (at least for the first name. The middle names are Spanish.)
Naming a baby is a very personal decision, and while I find Spanish names more beautiful, that’s my personal opinion. I don’t judge anyone who gives their child an English name, especially when pinned to it are hopes for that child’s future, and much love.
That being said, sometimes baby naming goes wrong. Sometimes people choose English names not really knowing the meaning of the words. Unfortunately for the individual, hilarity ensues.
“…un niño mexicano fue bautizado como “Yahoo” debido a que sus padres, haciendo gala de un romanticismo circense, querían inmortalizar la suerte de haberse conocido a través del chat.” – (source: David Hildago Vega of ElComercio.pe)
“En el registro [salvadoreño] no faltan nombres como Madonna, Mafalda y Sony, por mencionar algunos casos entre las mujeres. Pero los nombres de ellos no se quedan atrás: Obispo, Leo Dan, Matusalén, Pitágora y Excel, son algunos ejemplos. Hay hasta salvadoreños con nombres de ex presidentes de Estados Unidos, como Regan y Lincoln. Tampoco faltan los nombres famosos que están mal escritos. Como ejemplos figuran: Rayniero, Cadis, Lenon, Abellana y Vienvenida.” – (source: Hunnapuh.Blogcindario.com)
Chone, Ecuador is known as “la capital de los nombres raros”, (the capital of weird names.) Examples of some of the names found there? Frank Sinatra, Alí Babá, Burger King, Lincoln, Stalin, Puro Aguardiente, Vick Vaporup, and Land Rover. (Read more [en español], about other strange names that have popped up in Ecuador, as well as Argentina and Venezuela: Taringa.net)
“En el registro de Portoviejo…[Ecuador], reposan las actas de Luz Divina, Ford Chevrolet, Selva Alegre, Oferta Bienleída, Sostenes, Semiencanto, [y] Perfecta Heroína…” (source: Pitodoble.com)
It isn’t just Latinos who choose inappropriate English names. This phenomenon is found throughout the world thanks to English being the most popular second language, and American culture so pervasive. Funny English names can be found in Taiwan as well as other countries. The phenomenon of butchered and inappropriately funny use of English is so common in Japan that it spawned a website called Engrish.com, where people share photos of signs, T-shirts, and other strange English they encounter overseas.
Is English your native language? Don’t be so quick to laugh. Who doesn’t know someone with a Chinese tattoo? Well, instead of “love, peace, unity”, it may very well say “General Tso’s Chicken”.