I'm not a parent yet (and hope to keep it that way for a while!) but I'm a traveler and non-hispanic Spanish major, and I'm curious about the international names trend that has popped up recently. I understand that in this increasingly small world, parents want their children to have names that are capable of crossing borders with relative ease, but what exactly does that mean?
Are people looking for names like Ana, Marie/Maria, and Sofia that are present in almost every culture? Are they looking for names that are easily adapted, like Josephine to Josefina or Edward to Eduardo? Or are they looking for names that are completely translatable, like Henry to Enrique or John to Johann?
When I lived in Spain, my host mom said my name (Nancy) and my roommate's name (Melody) as close to the English pronunciation as she could, but my other roommate Jessica became Yessica since the hard J sound doesn't exist in Spanish. My interest in international naming took off last year reading a Spanish history textbook and seeing Enrique VII mentioned and having no idea who he was until I googled and realized the textbook was referring to Henry VII of England. I find it so fascinating that over the course of history, different languages feel the need to translate everything, including names and places. Like Germany, which is Deutschland to its own people, Germany to English-speakers, and Alemania to Spanish-speakers. During a tour of Spain, one of my less intelligent classmates asked "Are we in Sevilla [Se-VEE-ya] or Seville right now?"
I understand that some of the translations come from the fact that some places are legitimate words (United States gets directly translated to Estados Unidos) and that many more come from the fact that languages don't all share the same spellings (Afrika/Africa) or sounds (The Hague is the closest most English-speakers will get to pronouncing the Dutch city of Den Haag). But many translation just seem to be unnecessary, like going from Lisboa to Lisbon or Munchen to Munich. A lot of these are from the imperial period of history and earlier, but do you think they're still relevant to naming today?
(I know all my examples are all Western European, with a heavy concentration of Spanish, but that's what I know best)
Sat, 05/05/2012 - 2:41am