What are your views on ethnic names on a baby of different ethnicity?

[name_m]Hi[/name_m] guys, new to the forum with a burning question.

Is it inappropriate and weird to name a non-Italian/Scandinavian/Irish baby names like [name_f]Francesca[/name_f], [name_f]Aoife[/name_f], [name_m]Eamon[/name_m] and [name_m]Leif[/name_m]?

I am black-[name_f]Asian[/name_f]. Husband is white Australian. I was discussing baby names with my [name_f]MIL[/name_f] and [name_m]SIL[/name_m] when I showed them a list of our team green name “finalists” (many of which we found through this site and great forum, thanks!). Immediately my [name_m]SIL[/name_m] pointed to [name_f]Francesca[/name_f] and tutted that it was awful and pretentious to name a baby with no Italian heritage such an Italian name. [name_f]MIL[/name_f] agreed and also told me to strike off [name_f]Aoife[/name_f], [name_m]Leif[/name_m], and [name_m]Eamon[/name_m]. They did like the non-ethnic names like [name_f]Cara[/name_f] and [name_f]Fawn[/name_f].

I was stunned, I was too naive to have considered it might be offensive/pretentious to give a child of different race another ethnicity’s names? I was also privately kinda upset because I really loved [name_m]Eamon[/name_m] and [name_m]Leif[/name_m]. Is it really bad if I used those names?

I’m English/Scottish/[name_m]French[/name_m]/American, my husband is [name_m]German[/name_m]/English/American. We love some traditionally spanish names such as [name_m]Javier[/name_m] and Yretzi. But, we don’t think they would work on a child with our heritage. Not so much for fear of offending others (although, we certainly don’t want to do that) but because we just don’t think a name like that would “fit” properly on a child of ours. I don’t think it would be “bad” at all to use a name from another ethnicity, it just isn’t something I’m comfortable with myself. I love a lot of Biblical/Hebrew names and would totally use them (with not a drop of Hebrew or Jewish blood in me that I know of) I think it really depends on the name. Like you said, they liked [name_f]Cara[/name_f] and [name_f]Fawn[/name_f]. A name like [name_f]Aoife[/name_f] for example seems very language/ethnicity specific, and may not work well for you…similar with [name_m]Eamon[/name_m]. [name_f]Francesca[/name_f] is very popular with so many non-Italian/Spanish parents that that didn’t even occur to me at first. And while [name_m]Leif[/name_m] is very “[name_m]Leif[/name_m] [name_m]Erikson[/name_m]”, Scandinavian to me, it sounds enough like the word [name_u]Leaf[/name_u], that you could get away with it [name_f]IMO[/name_f].

I think if you and your SO love the names, you can use them. [name_m]Just[/name_m] because a name comes from a specific location or ethnicity does not mean they have exclusive rights to it. The only thing I would really consider is if the name is pronouncable where you live.

I honestly think it depends on the name. I don’t think it’s offensive, just a question of whether or not it works. Not everyone is going to use a name from their heritage/ethnicity, but it partially depends on how much the name is used outside of the specific culture. Both [name_f]Francesca[/name_f] and [name_m]Eamon[/name_m] are well recognized names that are often used outside of [name_f]Italy[/name_f] and [name_f]Ireland[/name_f]. I wouldn’t think twice about what the kids heritage might be if I heard either of those names. Names with funny spellings, different pronunciations, or that are specifically only used by certain cultures are a little different. For instance, I wouldn’t use [name_m]Jose[/name_m] because I am not Spanish/Latino and where I live that name is almost exclusively used in that culture. [name_f]Aoife[/name_f] and [name_m]Leif[/name_m] are kind of on the edge for me. Because of the traditional Gaelic spelling of [name_f]Aoife[/name_f] I would probably assume the kid had some Irish heritage. [name_m]Leif[/name_m]'s usability depends on if you use the English or the Scandinavian pronunciation. All in all I think it differs for each name individually and the associations of the name where you live. I think if you like the name and it won’t cause too many problems than you could go ahead and use it.

It’s usually not offensive or inappropriate [name_f]IMO[/name_f] but it is a little weird to me. However, if the name is commonly used outside that culture (like [name_f]Francesca[/name_f]) I don’t think it’s an issue. I wouldn’t bat an eyelash at meeting a mixed-race child named [name_f]Francesca[/name_f], or [name_m]Eamon[/name_m] for that matter. Like others have said, because of the traditional spelling of [name_f]Aoife[/name_f] and the fact that [name_m]Leif[/name_m] is relatively unheard of in my area I would expect that person to have a lot of Irish/Scandinavian heritage.

I don’t think you’re naive, and I don’t think it’s pretentious or offensive to use any of the names you have listed. If you really love the names, people will get over the fact that your child doesn’t fit into the expectation they initially had when they heard it. The world is becoming so much more blended now that I think as long as it’s not a legitimately offensive name (i.e. [name_m]Cohen[/name_m], [name_m]Aryan[/name_m], etc.) people will get over their initial surprise.

Agreed! There are a lot of names on my lists ([name_f]Madelief[/name_f], [name_u]Schuyler[/name_u], [name_f]Eleni[/name_f], [name_f]Giovanna[/name_f], [name_f]Fiorella[/name_f], [name_f]Aurora[/name_f], [name_f]Sofia[/name_f], [name_m]Casper[/name_m], etc.!) that don’t reflect my ancestry (which is primarily [name_m]German[/name_m], Swiss, English, Irish, and Native American, with a little [name_m]French[/name_m]), but they’re still really cool names, and I tend to think I’d use [name_f]Eleni[/name_f] whether I married a Greek guy or not. :slight_smile: Most of them are put in the MN spot, just because it’s not very mainstream, some of them, but I’d have no problem using the Italian pronunciation of [name_f]Lucia[/name_f] (loo-CHEE-ah) in my [name_f]Emmeline[/name_f] combo ([name_f]Emmeline[/name_f] [name_f]Poppy[/name_f] [name_f]Lucia[/name_f]!) or using [name_f]Madelief[/name_f] in my [name_f]Eva[/name_f] combo, etc. I think, for most people, it does greatly depend on how well it’s become a part of mainstream culture, but travel is important to me, and I grew up in such an international community that it doesn’t strike me as odd to meet a little blond, [name_m]German[/name_m]-and-English [name_f]Fiorella[/name_f], or [name_f]Eleni[/name_f], etc. :slight_smile: I’ve grown up with people with much odder names than [name_f]Fiorella[/name_f] or [name_f]Aurora[/name_f], haha!

My thoughts have been so well stated by pp’s so I really can’t add much but I agree also that it depends on the name. Some sound more ethnic than others and as an example I know a [name_m]Pierre[/name_m] M@cGuire and I think his name seems a bit “off” because both names definitely originated in different counties. I remember thinking that one parent must be from [name_f]France[/name_f] and one from [name_f]Ireland[/name_f] but I don’t know it that’s so.

If you respect the culture, it’s fine

are u talking about pierre mcguire the hockey analyst from tsn/nbc i really hope so

@OP: but to answer the question I think as long as you know, respect, and acknowledge the background that the name originates from it should be fine

I think it’s fine. I have a very Scottish name, and I have almost no Scottish heritage. My dad has a Scottish name too, and he has NO Scottish heritage. I also know a half-[name_f]Asian[/name_f] little girl named [name_f]Aoife[/name_f], and no one thought twice. [name_m]Just[/name_m] use the name you love :slight_smile:

Thanks for the additional opinions and insight guys! Pronunciation is definitely a big concern as is the respectfulness of each meaning of the name.

There was also something cute my SO said to reassure me - that our baby will be so mixed race no one will be able to tell their heritage, so they’ll get away with any name! Hehe.

(>o<) Bunny dominated my thread and also stole one of my muffins. No, I gave it to him.

I don’t think so at all. So many names from other cultures travel, that’s what makes them unique. Also look at all the [name_m]Liam[/name_m]'s, [name_u]Finn[/name_u]'s, [name_m]Connor[/name_m]'s and [name_f]Maeve[/name_f]'s running around. Doubtful that they are all Irish. If you love the name, go for it. As a Norwegian I like [name_m]Lief[/name_m] I don’t think it would be the best thing to name a baby “[name_u]Leaf[/name_u]” if you are not Scandinavian. And [name_f]Aoife[/name_f] seems like an unnecessarily difficult spelling if the name has no cultural meaning to you. It will just be hard for the child.

I don’t necessarily believe heritage is a good enough reason to use a name if it’s the only one, in some cases I find it borderline artificial. You can keep honouring your 10% this or that but I think over here we’ve forgotten about you and your ancestors a long time ago. Pick a name because you love it, if it matches your heritage then of course I see why to you that might have an added benefit, but I don’t see why it’s a must if your heritage doesn’t match your current cultural context. I reason like this because I’m 100% one and the same thing and I was always surrounded by people who practically shared that same identical heritage, our names however didn’t always reflect that. I’d also hate it if I limited myself to just one set of names.

That said, at times I might just find it a little bit odd if a really culturally specific name is used on someone but I’m a firm believer that you can get used to any name on any person. It’s hard to explain when I feel it’s odd, which is not necessarily often, but sometimes it just doesn’t feel right.

If push ever comes to shove though I wonder whether I’d really be brave enough to use a name which doesn’t fit my cultural context or heritage, so I understand your issue.