Multicultural Baby Naming question - Mothering Forums

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#1 of 22 Old 04-13-2009, 05:35 PM - Thread Starter
 
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Hello,

we are pregnant with our first and have been thinking about names. We live in the US, dh is Japanese and I am German. We are pretty set on our names, but I wanted to have your input, in regards of weiredness; I just don't have a very good handle on what is an acceptable name in the US, or Japan or my home country and what's too strange.

For a girl we like:
Käthe Kioko Gustave S.

and for a boy:
Gustav Norito ? S.

We are still looking for a 2nd middle name for a boy, any suggestions?

Merilin
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#2 of 22 Old 04-13-2009, 09:15 PM
 
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What my family has done (we're varying degrees of Japanese and Caucasian) is that most of us have a Japanese name, a European/English name, and then whatever our surname.

My siblings and I all have Western first names and Japanese middle names. DH and I used the same format for our kids. DH is full blooded Japanese, but also has a Western first name and Japanese middle name.

Living in the US, it is much easier having a Western first name.
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#3 of 22 Old 04-13-2009, 09:36 PM
 
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Not multicultural, but jumping in because I like names. I think the "weirdness" factor in this situation is a lot less important than the pronuncibility factor.

Therefore, Gustav looks totally fine. I think most Americans could look at it and figure out how to say it.

Kathe is a little more tricky. You've got the umlaut, the "th" followed by an "e" - I think many people are going to be stumped. They're going to wonder if it's pronounced Kath, Kathy, Kata...?

Kioko, on the other hand, is simpler; I think most of us would pronounce it correctly, no problem. (Plus, it's beautiful!)
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#4 of 22 Old 04-13-2009, 10:50 PM
 
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I agree with the previous poster; I think your boy name will be no problem, but people may have trouble pronouncing Kathe.

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#5 of 22 Old 04-13-2009, 11:55 PM
 
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I like the names, we did a version of that with our kids too. Ours have a "white" (as DH puts it lol) first name, hispanic middle name and then their last name is also hispanic. We have a Van Julio Escobar and an Ian Alexandro Escobar. It was funny b/c on Van's first day of school his teacher was expecting a very hispanic looking little boy and in walked Van with his pale skin and hair.

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#6 of 22 Old 04-14-2009, 08:47 AM
 
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I think the names are nice, though like PP have said, they may not know how to pronounce Kathe---I don't think it is a huge deal though, at least in my area, there are so many children with ethnic names, I just say, "what is your name?" then I repeat what I heard, "did I say it right?" and then I note the pronunciation (I teach swim classes), the children don't seem to mind.

We did a Hispanic first and middle (last is Hispanic) for our first and are doing just a typical American first and middle name for our second...that just sort of happened though, but, I'm glad to honor both cultures.
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#7 of 22 Old 04-14-2009, 09:10 AM
 
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Gustav is a great, pronounceable first name I think. Kathe is going to be more tricky, and I think that the umlaut will automatically be dropped from the spelling since most people don't have it readily available on their keyboards (as I am doing now!). How about switching the order for a girl, and having Kioko as a first name?

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#8 of 22 Old 04-14-2009, 12:30 PM
 
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Those are lovely names!

I wouldn't worry about the weirdness or whether it’s acceptable or not. As for mispronunciations, my Mom’s first name is Phoebe and while it’s not super common, it’s not an unusual name either and there are more people who pronounce it wrong than right.

Since I took on my husband’s very Polish last name (ends in ski) my name is really different/weird and super long because first name is a hyphenated Chinese name and I have a Western middle name. I admit at the DMV I got quite a few looks and when I called up place to change my name I got more than a few pauses. Personally I love having a crazy unusual name and I know that there is no one on earth has my name.

We gave our DD an Irish first name and a hyphenated Chinese middle name and we plan on doing the same with any new additions.
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#9 of 22 Old 04-15-2009, 08:47 AM
 
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I'm an American married to an Italian living in Italy. We gave our daughter an Irish name that no one here can pronounce. We knew that was going to happen, but did it anyway. If anything, it's a conversation starter- people ask what her name is, we tell them, and then they want to know all about it. It will be extra work for her, spelling it out and correcting the pronunciation, but I think that the name is beautiful and that there is something to be said for being different...so it all balances out.

Both of the names you're thinking of are really lovely! Especially Käthe! It makes me think of the artist Käthe Kollwitz.
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#10 of 22 Old 04-16-2009, 05:13 PM
 
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Merilin View Post

We are still looking for a 2nd middle name for a boy, any suggestions?

Merilin
How about Kai? It works in all 3 of your languages!

Also, about the umlaut in Käthe...I don't believe it would be possible to have one on American documents, so it would always read Kathe, which I'm sure the average Joe will pronounce like Cath. Just a thought. Have you perhaps considered some version of Katherine/Kathrin with Käthe for short?

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#11 of 22 Old 04-18-2009, 02:31 AM
 
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They are lovely names. The only thing is that Norito does rhyme with Dorito- in case you aren't familiar, these are a type of corn chip. However as a middle name that would not be a big deal.

I also agree that in English, Kioko Kathe sounds better than Kathe Kioko. But either way is nice.

My kids both have really unusual names, ethnic names, and I do have to spell them and repeat them, but the first names you chose are quite nice.

It's not that the stay-at-home-parent gets to stay home with the kids. The kids get to stay home with a parent. Lucky Mom to DD1 (4 y) and DD2 (18 mo), Wife to Mercenary Dad
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#12 of 22 Old 04-18-2009, 04:27 PM
 
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I have no idea how to make my computer do an umlaut (and I have tried.) If it is important to the spelling of "Kathe" then it won't work well in the US where it will be left out 99% of the time.

I would say that the lack of weirdness in "Kathe" may pose more of an issue than having a weirder name. Since it is close to a common english name, most people will just look at it and say "Kath" or "Katy" or "Cathy" or "Cathay" without realizing there is a potential to mis pronouce it. They will also often simply assume it is short for Cathrine or Catrina.

With the more unusual name "Kioko" people will stop look at it and think. They may ask how it is spelled frequently, but that isn't unusual (I'm "Jennifer" and people ask me.) With "Kathe" people will often just put down "Cath," "Cathy," "Kate," etc b/c they feel that they know how to spell it and might fell dumb asking. No one will feel dumb asking about "Kioko" which means they are likely to get it correct. Since it is Japanese and we do not use Japanese symbols it is tranliterated completly phonetically, it isn't hard to read or pronounce once one spends a second looking at it. With "Kathe" since it comes from a language with a very similar alphabet, there is no attempt to "Romanize" it. Therefore the phonics are German phonics instead of English Phonics which will confuse people.

Now non of this is to dicourage you from choosing "Kathe," just that it isn't the easy choice.

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#13 of 22 Old 04-18-2009, 04:31 PM
 
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Oh, Almost forgot... In the US there is only space for one middle name on most forms.

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#14 of 22 Old 04-18-2009, 05:18 PM
 
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But you can put two middle names in that one space. A lot of people have two middle names. It is not at all unheard of.

It's not that the stay-at-home-parent gets to stay home with the kids. The kids get to stay home with a parent. Lucky Mom to DD1 (4 y) and DD2 (18 mo), Wife to Mercenary Dad
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#15 of 22 Old 04-18-2009, 06:21 PM
 
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Quote:
Originally Posted by EdnaMarie View Post
But you can put two middle names in that one space. A lot of people have two middle names. It is not at all unheard of.
Yeah, but since she is stumped for an extra boy middle name, she doesn't have to go insane trying to pick one.

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#16 of 22 Old 04-19-2009, 01:59 AM
 
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Good point!

It's not that the stay-at-home-parent gets to stay home with the kids. The kids get to stay home with a parent. Lucky Mom to DD1 (4 y) and DD2 (18 mo), Wife to Mercenary Dad
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#17 of 22 Old 04-19-2009, 02:13 AM
 
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the proper way to spell the name in english would be kaethe and most americans won't be able to pronounce that.
i would either name her katherine, or some variant, and use kaethe as a nickname.
or like the pp have said, use kioko as the first name.
the only problem with kioko is if you return to germany at some point kioko looks a lot like kiosk
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#18 of 22 Old 04-20-2009, 05:25 PM - Thread Starter
 
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Those are really good comments. Pronouncing Kathe in English would not be such a problem, I guess. I personally don't like to give one name and then call the child something else. Kioko and Kiosk is a bit farfetched, I understand the Norito-Dorito point though. A bit like might friend Anna was often called Anna-Banana; there are always ways for making fun of a person.

I have 2 middle names myself and it is doable. I have a very ordinary first name, at least I thought so, but still need to spell it out each and every time. I just hope, those things will become easier, as more international names are used.

We still have sometime and will be debating the order of the girls names, both would work, but dh prefers Kathe first.

I am glad though, that my ideas of pretty names are not too weired, no matter what we end up deciding on
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#19 of 22 Old 04-23-2009, 09:17 PM
 
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I think your boys name is gorgeous, and definitely not weird.

I admit that I had to look up Kathe (with the umlaut) to learn how to pronounce it -- what a pretty name. What I found listed Kaethe as an equally acceptable spelling, although less common in Germany. I wonder if Kaethe would make it easier for Americans? Either way I'd vote for using the name you love -- so if that's Kathe/Kaethe I'd say go for it!
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#20 of 22 Old 04-24-2009, 05:06 AM
 
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You have chossen very beautiful names. They all go together very well. I like the originality and the combination of both cultures. I love Kioko and Gustav as names.

And whatever you choose, it'll be perfect for your new lamb =D
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#21 of 22 Old 04-28-2009, 02:08 PM
 
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Have some flexibility with names. Give yourself 2 or 3 choices for each sex. Sometimes a baby is born and looks, or acts, NOTHING like the name you had in mind. I so wanted to name my DD Charlotte when she was born. I love the name. But she came out all fiesty and strong and sporty, and looked nothing like a delicate, feminine Charlotte. So we picked a new name. 2.5 years later her feminine side is out, but she still looks like her real name, not a Charlotte.

I think the biggest thing is making it easy for your DC. Doesn't mean boring. But if your child has to spend their life saying, "No, it isn't XYZ, it is PDQ" or "it is spelled X Y Z, not P D Q" then their name is a constantly frustrating issue for them. It is such a huge part of one's identity, no reason to make it difficult for a person. DH is danish, I am american. We plan on living our lives in Denmark, but who knows. That means we could have chosen a name like Lars, but not a name like Jørgen, which is impossible to pronounce and spell in english. With both DS and DD, we ended up with a slightly unique name in Danish, with Danish spelling, but that is OK to spell and pronounce in English.
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#22 of 22 Old 04-28-2009, 02:42 PM
 
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But if your child has to spend their life saying, "No, it isn't XYZ, it is PDQ" or "it is spelled X Y Z, not P D Q" then their name is a constantly frustrating issue for them.
My name is one of the most common in the entire world and people still can't freaking spell it. Not that I'm fond of alternative spellings- just to say, no way would I choose a name based on people's ability to spell it, read it, or pronounce it. People are half illiterate, in my experience. Maybe not in Denmark (I have only been once), but here, even if your name is Jack, you will have to say every time, "No, that's not John, just Jack," and if it's John, they will ask, "With or without an aitch?" and if it's Mary they will ask, "With an "ie"?" and you will say every time, "No, that's MaRIE, mine is with a "y"."

You can't win.

(NB- EdnaMarie is not my real name!)

It's not that the stay-at-home-parent gets to stay home with the kids. The kids get to stay home with a parent. Lucky Mom to DD1 (4 y) and DD2 (18 mo), Wife to Mercenary Dad
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