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Multicultural Baby Naming question

2805 Views 21 Replies 16 Participants Last post by  EdnaMarie

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?

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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.
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!)
I agree with the previous poster; I think your boy name will be no problem, but people may have trouble pronouncing Kathe.
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.
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.
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?
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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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 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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Originally Posted by Merilin View Post

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

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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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.
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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Oh, Almost forgot... In the US there is only space for one middle name on most forms.
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.

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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Good point!
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
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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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!
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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