I was trying to think of solid examples and this thread just dropped off the first page a while… anyway:
I walked into a bank that’s not my bank and was greeted by Anthippe. I commented on her name, that’s an interesting name, I said. She managed to fit in “I am Greek” and then went on to tell me all about the kinds of accounts I could open up.
So I guess when we think about names and where they are from, I also think about authenticity. If I grew up with my best friend Anthippe, I who am not Greek, might love her so much that I would want to choose the name for my daughter, who would also not be Greek (let’s imagine her father’s not Greek for this example). I think that’s an example of a name she would have to respond to, “it’s a Greek name.” Followed by, no, I’m not Greek. My name also happens to be Greek, but I don’t have these questions because [name]Karen[/name] is a common name used in the US. [name]How[/name] did my name find its way here to 3rd most popular in 1965, and well saturated for several decades before and after? I don’t know that Anthippe is poised to appeal to most American parents even of Greek descent, much less the population at large, but let’s find an Irish or Italian name that just about anyone can use, no matter where they come from. Or how about Russian or French or [name]German[/name]?
I guess I wonder how they get picked up, and how can I feel entitled to choose a pretty name from somewhere else. Like I’d said, I’m part [name]German[/name] and Italian myself, but in a very few generations, my immigrant ancestors assimilated rather than bond with others in their new homeland and don’t retain any culture. NONE. I would find it very tricky to pick a very [name]German[/name] or Italian name, that it feels the same if I were to pick an Irish or Hungarian name, or perhaps an [name]Indian[/name] or [name]African[/name] name. Some names blend in and some don’t. I think of the bible for sources - I am not religious, but many of our common given names are biblical - my [name]Daniel[/name], or [name]Sarah[/name] or [name]Elizabeth[/name] or [name]John[/name]. I’d feel fine picking among these names, less so picking an [name]Ezekiel[/name] or [name]Jeremiah[/name] or [name]Jonah[/name]. Yet, when I look at a lot of the suggestions, I would say, pick a name you like from anywhere, and it may or may not become accessible, at least it will always be interesting.
So I might say, sure, [name]Yona[/name]. I like [name]Lorenzo[/name]. Not so hot on [name]Lawrence[/name], but [name]Lorenzo[/name] seems like it may pass, and it just sounds really cool (a lot cooler than [name]Daniel[/name]!). I have to add that even though I’m a good portion Italian by lineage, nobody ever seems to believe it. So I shy away from bonding with names like [name]Lorenzo[/name] because I don’t look or “feel” Italian enough.
A few weeks ago, someone was trying to find formal names for [name]Posy[/name] as a nickname. It is difficult to search names that start with P which include ‘os’ so I found the name [name]Piroska[/name], which is the Hungarian variant for [name]Priscilla[/name]. I’m not really in favor of the name [name]Piroska[/name] so much as find it curiously applicable to the task. Like Anthippe, I think this is just too “foreign” for American parents to choose from the get-go, I would be delighted (probably) to meet someone named [name]Piroska[/name] who immigrated or was born from recently immigrated Hungarian parents. Names like [name]Piroska[/name] or Anthippe are kind of awesome. They are also awkward choices for an American parent looking for something different or “authentic” to their lineage without being in range for it seeming like a natural choice.
My niece has a Japanese name. Her mother is half Japanese but grew up in the US, and her mother is all Japanese with a Japanese name, who speaks Japanese and prior to my sister-in-law’s birth, immigrated to the US and married a man of English descent (but not English per se), not necessarily in that order. My sister-in-law has a Latin name, her brother and sister respectively, a Greek and a biblical name, all very common American names. My niece’s name is also semi-common, close to and sometimes mispronounced as a more-common biblical name. I feel this name has some balance and meaning, as it seemed chosen to honor Japanese heritage while maintaining some English heritage balanced with my brother’s American mutt heritage like my own. So I feel this name is quite good without being “too Japanese.” It blends in, and I don’t feel like anyone will ever ask my niece where her name comes from. It might seem more made up than Japanese after all, but it blends in very well with our culture, unlike [name]Kyoko[/name].
I worked with a woman of fairly obvious Euro heritage who married a Middle Eastern man. She was expecting her second child when I worked with her, and both of their names were pure Middle Eastern (sorry can’t remember what country exactly), although I cannot remember what they were. I never asked her if she liked any names better or if she didn’t participate in the choosing or had to choose off a list of Middle Eastern names. Since I didn’t get to ask her, I wonder if this was something she agreed with or put up with. Although the names might be beautiful or have some excellent meaning for her and her husband, I could not picture myself choosing those names above some favorites I’ve had for a long time. If I met someone very Italian for the father of my children, then [name]Lorenzo[/name] would make a lot more sense, but I’m not sure I would want to limit myself if I really still love the name [name]Daniel[/name]. Danielo, I suppose, but there’s not really an equivalent to that in some languages, and I don’t always like the equivalents some languages come up with. Could me and [name]Armando[/name] (the Italian fantasy mate) then have some American names, [name]German[/name] names, or maybe some Middle Eastern or Japanese name that appeals to me at the time?
I don’t know if this made any sense. I am curious about people’s names as sometimes they indicate also a heritage, but some names do not. I don’t know if I would choose a name unfamiliar to the US that I just think was incredible and appealing. I mostly feel for the misunderstanding, the curiosity gets built up to find out where this person is from, only they are not from there, or know very little about it, yet some names do implant themselves in our cultural familiarity, somehow, and if they are weird-ish, they may eventually become familiar picks. So I don’t know how far across the line to go if at all.