I regret the multicultural name... - Mothering Forums

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#1 of 53 Old 11-24-2008, 06:03 PM - Thread Starter
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I am Polish-American, my DH is Anglo American with a very simple Anglo last name. So when we were thinking of names for our daughter, I thought it would be a nice nod to my culture to give her a Polish first name since she would be taking DH's fairly common Anglo last name.

Oh, but I sort of regret the name we chose. Rather, it is confusing for all of us .

DD's name is Zofia--in Polish, it is pronounced ZO-fya, accent on the first syllable. This is hard for most Americans. Also in Polish, a little girl named Zofia would be called Zosia (pronounced Zosha) as a diminutive.

We thought we would call her Zosia or Zoey, which would be sort of an Americanized nick-name. But we never did. Somehow those names didn't take and we called her simply Zofia or just Zofi.

Everyone else in the world calls her Zo-FEE-a. Accent on the second syllable, like the common Sophia. This is understandable. Now, poor DD doesn't really know how to pronounce her name. She calls herself ZO-fya at home and Zo-FEE-a everywhere else . She has even asked that we stop pronouncing her name ZO-fya because nobody calls her that.

Now, at 3 years old, she says she really likes the nickname Zosia and that we should call her that. But isn't it weird to start calling her a new name now? No one calls her this except for my native Polish family members.

Have any of you had trouble dealing with multicultural names? Why didn't we just name her Sophia ?

I can't backtrack now.
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#2 of 53 Old 11-24-2008, 06:11 PM
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You can start a new nickname at any time, as long as the child is OK with the change. I was "Ruthie" through first grade, then I was very adamant about being "Ruth" after that.

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#3 of 53 Old 11-24-2008, 06:21 PM
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Aww... i grew up with a 'funny' name.

I used to pronounce my name differently at home and at school until 10th grade, when a boy that I "like" liked, (in the way that only 10th graders can) asked me why I did that. He insisted that he could pronounce it correctly if I just gave him the chance.

That was that! I made up my mind that I'd quit telling people that my name was something different. When I introduce myself, I say my name correctly, and I'll correct just once, and then let it go. Most people will catch on. And quite a few poeple take the time to pronounce it correctly.

I think if you asked your daughter's teachers to pronounce it correctly, her classmates would quickly follow suit.

BTW... Zofya is a gorgeous name.

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#4 of 53 Old 11-24-2008, 06:36 PM
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I know plenty of people who pronounce their names differently depending on what language they are speaking (including me). It's quite common around here, actually.
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#5 of 53 Old 11-24-2008, 07:29 PM
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Yeah, we are calling the baby (still in utero) Izzy. Her name is Isabel, and I was hoping we would call her Isa (EE-ssah) for short, but somehow Izzy has stuck - it seems to be easier for my husband, who only speaks English. Perhaps it will change after she makes her appearance and I speak to her in a different language.

I really like the polish pronunciation of Zofia. It's so pretty and feminine.
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#6 of 53 Old 11-24-2008, 07:43 PM
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FWIW, my name is plain old ordinary American Michelle. When I was 4 I decided I wanted everyone to call me Shelly ... my preschool teacher was named Shelly. A year or two later, I decided I wanted to be renamed altogether: Lavender. Didn't last long ... soon back to just "Michelle." In my teen years I decided it was too orinary and started playing with alternate spellings and pronunciations ... Mi'chele, Michaelle, etc. Then back to Shelly for a while. And then back to just "Michelle" again.

I don't think it's a multicultural name problem so much as just a common fact of having a name at all, kwim? A lot of kids play around with their names. If she wants to be Zo-FEE-ya or Zosha for a while, I'd just go with it ... when she's older she may well appreciate the more unique original, and if not ... well, what's the harm in a unique spelling of a more common American name?
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#7 of 53 Old 11-24-2008, 07:51 PM
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I have a friend named Tara. Certain people in her life (her father & stepmother and that side of the family) call her Tair-a (ie rhyme with hair); her mother, friends, husband, and co-workers call her Tar-a (ie rhyme with car).

It's not a big deal to her - it's been that way since she was a child and it's just normal to her.

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#8 of 53 Old 11-24-2008, 07:58 PM
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beautiful name , don't give up on it.

our dd is named ada, and we just tell people we say it with ah, not ay. at 6, she corrects people, and doen't mind. 99% of people call her correctly. no one had a problem with it.
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#9 of 53 Old 11-24-2008, 08:01 PM
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Oiy...I grew up with a very unique name. Shealaina (shuh-lay-nuh) which was a mixture between Shayna and Layla - as you can tell my user name is actually my nick name and I only started using that nick name in adulthood. Sheal is pronounced like Shell.

I don't see an issue with it if she is asking you to do so. She seems fine with it, I'd honor her request if it were me.
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#10 of 53 Old 11-24-2008, 08:02 PM
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Zofia is such a lovely name, though! Call her Zosia if that is what she wants, what is the harm?
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#11 of 53 Old 11-24-2008, 09:34 PM
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yes, my DH is Jacques and a lot of our friends call him Jackie of Jack, because, lets face it, Jacques isn't pleasant on the English tongue!

I wouldn't be too worried about it. I went through a phase when I was about 6 or 7 where I really wanted a "normal" name like Sarah or Jennifer, my name is Rachel, totally normal! Kids do strange things with their names!

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#12 of 53 Old 11-25-2008, 12:53 AM - Thread Starter
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Thanks for all of the replies. I just feel bad that I'm giving her an identity crisis or something . Or, really, I'm just being a worried mom.
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#13 of 53 Old 11-25-2008, 01:05 AM
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well, my son's name is Avery. I pronouncy it Ave-ree, and had gotten the name from a Dutch family that I know and I loved they way they pronounced their childs name... more like Afe ree, but i cant say it quite right, so I settled on Ave - ree......

so many people say it with 3 syllables Ave - a - ree..... UGH i hate it, it annoys the crap out of me... even my DAD does it sometimes.
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#14 of 53 Old 11-25-2008, 01:21 AM
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I think you are just worrying, like you said.

I think it's fine if she wants to be called Zosia - it's a nice nick-name. No more of an "identity crisis" than a Deborah wanting to be Deb or Debi or a Rebecca wanting to be Becky or an Elizabeth bouncing between Liz, Lizzy, Liza, Bess, Betty, or Betsy.

My daughter has about 4 different nick-names based on her English name and we also often call her by her Chinese name and other pet names. My son's name, I thought it was a "no-brainer" to pronounce - but we've found that many of his classmates give is a British pronunciation that we never expected.
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#15 of 53 Old 11-25-2008, 01:43 AM
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I am not Polish but I spent 3 months in Krakow 5 years ago, then my husband and I went back 2 years ago for 2 weeks and it's probably our favorite place in the world.

Since my travel I love the name Zosia so much I have considered naming a daughter than even though neither dh or I are Polish. So I think it's lovely.

I personally always try to learn the true pronunciation of a person's name rather than Americanize it (like Russian Ivan is pronounced Eevan,etc..and I try to roll Rs in peoples name) so I would think correcting people is ok. Then again, I understood when people pronounced my name differently in foreign countries.

So maybe let her experiment with Zosia and ZoFEEyah as she wants, but teach her about her culture and the name ZOfya?

Happily married to DH for 6 years, in process to foster-adopt 3 children DD4, DS3 and DS2. We may be bringing half brother age 9 one day as well! We are not infertile, we just have decided that since there are precious children who need homes there is no need for us to have biological children.

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#16 of 53 Old 11-25-2008, 02:44 AM
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My DD's name is Antoinette. We use the Italian pronunciation An-t'nette (not An-twa-nette). We are always correcting people and DD (5 years old) knows she can too. Sometimes she does and sometimes she doesn't. Often if someone can't get it right she'll say "Just call me T"; which is one of her many nicknames (others are: Nette, Nettie).

I love Zofia and Zosha!
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#17 of 53 Old 11-25-2008, 03:27 AM
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My real name is a VERY common English name, and when I was five, and entered kindergarten, I suddenly decided to change my nickname to something related but totally different, also very Anglo, and our family dealt. And I was five and that was my third nickname!

People dealed. I say, go for it, and let people deal with it. Surely, they have had to overcome more people-pleasing obstacles than learning to say or spell, "Zosia".

One thing you could do to help her is to spell the nickname the English way. It's not like it will be on documentation, so who cares? And that way, people will more automatically put the emphasis on the first syllable, which may help them pronounce Zofia. Just write on the enrollment papers etc. " Zofya 'Zosha' Lastnamehere".

By the way, it's a gorgeous name. A perfect combination of familiarity, good meaning, and exoticism, in my opinion.

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#18 of 53 Old 11-25-2008, 08:47 AM
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I think lots of people go through "identity crisis" as kids about their name. My sibs and I all went through several changes of nicknames over the years. My baby sister insisted on being called "Maria Hannah Flower Fairy" for a few months when she was 6. That was how she introduced herself to everyone.

It occurs to me to wonder whether my oldest son was so eager to learn how to spell his name (at age 4!) because he was tired of us spending 10 minutes trying to get Americans to hear his name right. "Ashrat?? AzzRAT?? Ezra??" Now he steps up in front of them and says "No. It's Asrat. A-S-R-A-T."
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#19 of 53 Old 11-25-2008, 01:56 PM
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OP, have you seen the movie the namesake? the son starts out hating the name his father gave him, being different from everyone else, and in the end he finally realizes the meaning and appreciates it. very touching.
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#20 of 53 Old 11-25-2008, 02:40 PM
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It's not too late to call her whatever nickname she prefers. My sister was known by a nickname since she was a baby. When she was in 4th grade, she announced to everyone that she no longer wanted to be called the nickname, but rather her given name. It took everyone awhile to get used to it, but we did, and it was no big deal.

My older son has a very "American" name, but it sounds a lot like a more common name, and he is forever correcting people. And like a previous poster mentioned, he started spelling it for them whenever he introduced himself.
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#21 of 53 Old 11-25-2008, 04:26 PM
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I'm another one with an unusual (but American) name, and people are always calling me a more typical variant of the name. As a child, I got used to correcting people, and I think it actually helped me learn to be a little assertive.

As others have said, changing to the nickname per her wishes doesn't seem like a problem. She may ask to change to something else later on. Identity is fluid throughout a lifetime, and there's nothing wrong with having informal names reflect that.

By the way, I love your daughter's given name and her nickname!

Oh, and I was wondering: do you think your ambivalence about her name mirrors any ambivalence you feel towards your Polish-American identity?

Mama to a bilingual (Arabic/English) and cuddly 3 year old, and planning another peaceful homebirth in June.

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#22 of 53 Old 11-25-2008, 05:13 PM
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give her time. and see how it goes. but follow her lead now.

at 3 my dd would spell her name out to people so they would understand how to pronounce it. she would always correct them.

then at 4 she decided to take a v. american name - rainbowheart. at 5 she had a conversation with her K teacher and went back to her non american name.

i kinda insist on my dd keeping her non american name and so do i mine. i only correct people when they ask if they have pronounced it correctly. i dont mind if they have forgotten it. but i think it is my duty to add to teh melting pot of this culture here. seeing how my dd's name is written ver few can pronounce her name correctly (its the i). but it is simple and easy and so one should learn it. hopefully in some years her name will become common here as common as it is in my culture.

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#23 of 53 Old 11-25-2008, 06:34 PM
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without reading any of the other posts (yet!) I'd like to chime in. Don't worry. It's okay. And if you can bear it, just call her what she wants! She won't be confused. In fact, she already ISN'T confused. She knows what she has been named by her family, but she's decided she likes something else for now. When she's older, she may want to go back to the Polish pronounciation of her name. If she does, you'll be happy you gave her so many beautiful options.

who's 3 year old, Dharma, likes to use the nickname "Zoo" on the internet.
and 1 year old Zoe doesn't have any naming issues....yet. But we often call her "Zo-zee."
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#24 of 53 Old 11-25-2008, 06:35 PM
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I have noticed that a lot of teachers ask students how to pronounce their given name, and what name they prefer to go by. When I registered DD for Kindergarten, the registration form asked for the given name and "preferred" name.

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#25 of 53 Old 11-26-2008, 12:03 AM
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My name is Rianne... I am still a little confused as how my name ended up being pronounced "ryan". My mom still hasn't explained how it ended up that way. She wanted to pronounce it Ry-anne. She doesn't even call me that so im pretty at a loss for what to tell people. People have called me rianna, ria??? don't get that one.. ree-anne. I think only one person has pronounced my name the way it is now (ryan). See im probably confusing you all now: I totally give up lol!!
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#26 of 53 Old 11-26-2008, 12:11 AM
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nobody can pronounce my name! it's Adelina.. Addie is my nickname i am consistently called adeline and adelaide b/c apparently people cannot read. I am almost called Abbie and Maddie ALOT. i love my name though.. i have always likes it and there was never 1 other let alone 3 other people in the class with my name. i just used to correct them a lot. my parents call me Lina lot. i have a great aunt, a second cousin, and a great grandmother who all have the same name. my second cousin is 13 yrs younger and they call her Addie... my great aunt is called Adel (my parents vowed never to let anyone call me this)

i think i changed the spelling of my name atleast 5 times growing up. i really wouldn't worry about a new nickname. my dad calls me angel eyes more then he calles me addie and it has never bothered me lol i'm sure it will be fine
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#27 of 53 Old 11-26-2008, 12:40 AM
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I think you should call her what she wants to be called, especially if she gets others to pronounce it correctly. Many have nicknames or names we go by (the name I go by isn't the same as my legal name). I think it's also great that she's assertive enough to want to be called by a particular name....good sign!
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#28 of 53 Old 11-26-2008, 11:24 AM
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I am going with a difficult name for my daughter (due in Jan). Her name will be Anais. Most people I hear from now don't like it. My family included they say they can't pronounce it. My 5 year old and her friends can pronounce it no problem. (AH NA EESE). I'm sure everyone else will figure it out on their own. I'm not worried about it. I am sure we will have our challenges with it as she grows but, hopefully we will be able to deal with them! good luck with your daughter! I think the name is beautiful! robyn
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#29 of 53 Old 11-26-2008, 04:54 PM
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I have the same issues with my kids names and family. I know we didn't make it better by naming our ds a name VERY similar to my nephew's name. Dh still gets mixed up too. Our names are Arabic and I really didn't want to name them something that would cause others to mispronounce because a slight mispronunciation could drastically change the meaning of the name to something with a different and/or bad meaning. We wanted to name our first dd Sahlah, with the 'h' pronounced, but the American 'tongue' makes it sound like Saklah. I ran it by the inlaws and on the first try, I knew it wasn't going to work, lol. So we switched to the other we were going to choose, but they STILL mispronounce it and I admit that I don't correct because in general, they tend to have trouble pronouncing some English words, so I digress.

In a nutshell, I'd say encourage your dd to be proud of her name AND its correct pronunciation. Changing it to an Americanized pronunciation just dilutes its specialness. I like the name and really don't think it's THAT hard to pronounce. It's not like its some strange letters completely foreign to English like some Arabic words are.

Anytime some teacher, nurse, caller on the phone, etc. mispronounces it, encourage her to correct it. My mom never really told me this at your dds age. I know I didn't as a child and I still get mad when I remember how my second grade teacher mispronounced my name for a long time until my mom came up to the school and noticed it. When my mom told her, my teacher was surprised I didn't say anything. I was shy about correcting an adult and still was when it happened again when I was 17 y/o! It wasn't until I felt like an adult (sometime after graduation), I started standing up for my name and its correct pronunciation and meaning (the mispronunciation DID change its meaning).

One more thing is that nipping it in the bud early helps stop the spread of incorrect pronunciations. With my experience, I realized that when people heard others pronouncing my name wrong, others would just repeat it who've never me before and didn't ask me what my name was. Even people who did know my name's correct pronunciation and had known me for many years started pronouncing it the wrong way w/o even asking me first. I guess they thought the 'new' way must be the right way and were too embarrassed to ask themselves!
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#30 of 53 Old 12-01-2008, 03:13 PM
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My son gets new nicknames all the time that have nothing to do with his name, Ryne (rhymes with line). He's called Ryan or Ryne about 50/50 at school. I let him introduce himself so it completely depends on his mood.

My own name is Aimee (pronounced em-MAY) and I answer to Amy or my nickname Indigo 95% of the time. Heck, my own mother's name is Maria and tons of people call her Marie. Never quite figured that out.

Or even my husband, Robert hates being called Bobby but lets his grandmother, mother and sister (but not his brothers or aunts & uncles) call him by that childhood nickname.

My family of 3 (plus pup) Indigo (Aimee), Rob (dp), Ryne (ds) & Phebe (dog), plus my BIL's family of 3.

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