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Working using "unofficial" names. Help please
Thread poster: fallplanet
Jan 7, 2010

Dear Proz members

I have been reading the posts on this site for a quite a time now. Hope someone can shine a light to my conundrum.

I have been studying translation for a quite time now, and my teachers think I’ve got all the necessary skills. I was thinking of contacting the agencies.
Then I began to wonder. Is it necessary to use real names when contacting agencies? Is it possible to use pseudonym?

The reason why I ask this is that, I hate my “official” name, and hardly anyone (that I haven’t worked with in an office setting) knows my real name. I haven’t used my “official” name in a personal setting for over 7 years now.

I really wish I can change my name legally, but unlike other countries where all you have to do is pay a little money in order to change your name into something bizarre (like “animal dissection is evil.com”), changing your name in my country is a lengthy process. Plus I’m not currently residing in the country I’m from.

The things I’m worried are
1) Signing a contract. Is it okay to sign a contract under a “false” name?
2) Past working experience written in the CV: Are the agencies going to contact my old work place and ask? People I've worked with will know my nickname (not my "last name"), but not sure if the admins will.
3) Bank account. Would they find it strange if my name on the bank differs widely from my “name”?

I understand that this question is seldom asked. However, if there’s a chance where I can work not using my actual name, that would be great.

Thank you


 

David Jessop  Identity Verified
Spain
Member
Spanish to English
+ ...
Change your official name Jan 7, 2010

Hi fallplanet,

Have you considered changing your legal name? I believe this is possible in most countries.

Sorry I don't have specific answers to your questions - this is the first thing that comes to mind if I were in your shoes.

Best,
David


 

Clare Barnes  Identity Verified
Sweden
Local time: 11:06
Swedish to English
+ ...
Company name Jan 7, 2010

Have you thought about giving yourself a "company name" and marketing yourself using that? This means you can at least reduce the use of your real name, even if I think it will be difficult to completely eliminate it. I think that Nikki at Fallplanet Translations is more professional than simply using Nikki, for example.

Best,

Clare


 

Ellis Jongsma  Identity Verified
Netherlands
Local time: 11:06
Member (2006)
English to Dutch
Name change Jan 7, 2010

I think it can hurt your business quite a lot if translation agencies and other clients find out in the future that your real name is different than the one you told them. However, most people can understand if someone doesn't want to use his or her name, for instance if their name means something rude or stupid in a different language.

If you can't or don't want to change your name legally, I would go for this option: in every first contact with a potential client, I would explain this issue in a few sentences. Just say you don't want to use your name, that it is only present on your bank account and other official material. People might understand this. (I knew someone from Somalia who had the same first and last name, something that is illegal in the Netherlands itself and he had a lot of problems with the bureaucracy due to that fact. But explanations sometimes helped.)

I don't know whether clients will accept this though. I wouldn't want to do business with someone who has different names (an official and a non-official one). So in the end it still may come down to changing your legal name.


 

Jenn Mercer  Identity Verified
United States
Local time: 05:06
Member (2009)
French to English
Modification? Jan 7, 2010

To the original poster,

In order to properly answer this question, I would need to know what it is you do not like about your name. I can offer a few suggestions however, and perhaps one of these will address your issue.


1. If it is your first name which you do not like, you can use your initials or some modification of your first name. As an example, I use "Jenn Mercer" as my professional name although my full name is "Jennifer Mercer." The banks cash my checks just fine because Jenn is an obvious variant of Jennifer.

2. Add your middle name in order to change the sound/look of your name. Again, I don't know whether your name has bad associations for you, sounds funny, or resembles a bad word in your native tongue. Nonetheless, if you are facing a name situation like Amanda Hugginkiss, changing your name to A. Eleanor Hugginkiss may at least lessen the impact.

3. Use a company name. If the previous suggestions do not work for you, I would establish a DBA (doing business as) under the proper procedures for your country. Keep the name you like the best and add the word Translations or even French/Spanish/etc Translations. As an example Jenn Translations, Mercer translations, Mercer French Translations, etc.

Remember that a name that you do not like may be eye-catching and prove advantageous when potential clients are trying to recall your name.


 

Weronika Tomaszewska-Collins  Identity Verified
United Arab Emirates
Local time: 13:06
English to Polish
+ ...
I'm afraid it might work against you Jan 7, 2010

Unless your name really is extremely embarrassing and it's not just an unjustified feeling of dislike on your side, I would really consider getting over it. As Jenn has pointed out - you can always try to make something with your first name if it is the one that causes the problem (you can make it shorter, longer, use it as an initial...). If it's the surname, then simply use it only while applying and then sign all the correspondence (apart from legal documents, which simply won't be that legal any more if you don't put your name on it) with your first name only (or its variation).
You can also ask the agency to use your first name only when addressing you.

As is usually the case - you probably make more of it than anyone else would. If your name is strange, awkward or even hilarious, then yes, it might get a little giggle every now and again (from a person who usually sits in some office on the opposite side of the globe and never is even going to meet you). So what? Once you translate your first masterpiece of world literature I believe nobody will be making any problems, if you insist on publishing it under your nickname. I really see my surname only on invoices and contracts, as nobody can be bothered to try to spell it in their emails.

You have to be aware though, that whatever you do - contacting anyone regarding business matters under your nickname will not make a good impression and is likely to cause you some troubles once they find out.

Another thing is - the agencies get so many applications that I doubt they will even notice what your name is, unless you point out to them that it's a weird/funny/bizarre one.


 

Sheila Wilson  Identity Verified
Spain
Local time: 10:06
Member (2007)
English
+ ...
Dodgy - I speak from experience Jan 7, 2010

I'm constantly getting hassle as I always use Sheila as my first name, but the French authorities have me registered for official purposes as Shelagh. This is the name on my passport but French people can't get their tongues round what they consider to be a truly bizarre name.

So ProZ, clients, colleagues etc all know me as Sheila until it comes to contracts, invoices, cheques, ... Then they HAVE to write Sheila, otherwise I risk not getting the money in my account, falling foul of the tax people, not receiving my pittance of a pension, having no legal status or rights with regard to non-payment, etc. Even ProZ has to have my "official" name as that's the one on my credit card.

It's a constant worry - who have I given which name to? Should my name be Sheila or Shelagh on this particular form? Is my userid on this site Sheila or Shelagh? What shall I do with this cheque adressed to "Sheila Wilson"?

With a surname it would be a much worse problem, I'm sure.

I could have changed my first name just like that (says I, clicking my fingersicon_smile.gif) but I didn't think of the problems and implications in time (in particular I had no idea there had been a French singer called "Sheila") and now I know better than to try to get all the admin. changed - that would really put my quiet retirement into jeopardy.

I certainly wouldn't recommend this type of double identity and would recommend you put up with your own name or set up a registered company name.


 

xxxAguas de Mar
Another option... Jan 7, 2010

... commonly used in the US, and I trust Sheila will forgive me for using her as an example:

Shelagh (Sheila) Wilson

To the readers, a name written like this means two things:
1) The real or official or formal name is Shelagh Wilson.
2) The person prefers to be called Sheila, and that is the name she uses for herself.

To me, kind of solves the whole problem except, of course, if the person wants to change his/her full name, including family name.


 

Samuel Murray  Identity Verified
Netherlands
Local time: 11:06
Member (2006)
English to Afrikaans
+ ...
Use a nickname, and sign with a scribble Jan 7, 2010

fallplanet wrote:
Is it necessary to use real names when contacting agencies? Is it possible to use pseudonym?


I don't think it is acceptable to use a pseudonym, but there's nothing wrong with using a nickname or a shortened version of your real name. The client won't know that no-one calls you by that name. And you can always incorporate your real name into your business name (if you want to). So if for example your name is Euphegenia Smith, you can call your business Euphegenia Translations but introduce yourself as Jenny Smith, because Jenny > Gennie > Genia > Euphegenia.

However, when signing contracts, you have to use your full name in the written-out section. For the signature, you can cultivate a scribble that no-one can decypher.

If the name you don't like is your surname, then I don't think it is acceptable to use a shortened form or an altered form of it. But then again, I've seen many people use just their first name when signing an e-mail (though of course a fuller name is present in the signature).

The reason why I ask this is that, I hate my “official” name, and hardly anyone (that I haven’t worked with in an office setting) knows my real name. I haven’t used my “official” name in a personal setting for over 7 years now.


In the motorcycle gang where I'm a member, most of the riders use pseudonymns or avatars when talking to and about each other, and many of them even use those names in their daily life. I remember I phoned one of these guys at his office (he's a chartered accountant), and the secretary had no idea who I was phoning for until I used the guy's nickname.

So yes, I'm sure there are certain work situations in which a weird nickname becomes the name you and everyone else uses, but you can't get away from using your real name in certain situations, eg contracts.

2) Past working experience written in the CV: Are the agencies going to contact my old work place and ask? People I've worked with will know my nickname (not my "last name"), but not sure if the admins will.


Give a specific contact person's name and contact details in the reference, so any potential client will phone that person directly.

3) Bank account. Would they find it strange if my name on the bank differs widely from my “name”?


Yes, I think so. I used to use my wife's surname for a while in my translation work, but I found that I had to explain to many clients why there is a discrepancy between the name I trade under and the name I want them to write on cheques.


 

QUOI  Identity Verified

Chinese to English
+ ...
Deed poll name change Jan 7, 2010

It's never a good idea to use a pseudonym or funny name when doing business. Alright for places such as here if you don't intend to get any work.

If you don't like the name your parents gave you, you can change it legally in Australia by way of a deed poll (now simply called Change of Name). Go to your local Birth Death and Marriage Registry and pay some money and you get yourself a new legal name.

And yes, "Peking Duck" and "Donald Duck" are acceptable names.




[Edited at 2010-01-07 23:59 GMT]


 

Edward Potter  Identity Verified
Spain
Local time: 11:06
Member (2003)
Spanish to English
+ ...
Changing your name Jan 8, 2010

I don't think you are telling us everything.

What is the country that makes it so hard to change your name?

What is the reason you do not like your name?

Is your name really going to hurt your business? Could this just be some insecurity on your part?

And, frankly, I am wondering if you might be in some sort of legal trouble. Are you serious that you are considering signing a contract with a name that is not yours?


BTW, I think Chad Ochocinco an idiot. He's planning to change his name yet again (to the Japanese words for eight and five). Here's a little info in case anyone is interested: http://www.thesmokinggun.com/archive/years/2008/0905081ocho1.html

A prosperous 2010 to all!



[Edited at 2010-01-08 01:42 GMT]

[Edited at 2010-01-08 01:43 GMT]


 

Samuel Murray  Identity Verified
Netherlands
Local time: 11:06
Member (2006)
English to Afrikaans
+ ...
The OP did say Jan 8, 2010

Edward Potter wrote:
I don't think you are telling us everything. ... What is the country that makes it so hard to change your name?


The OP stated that he is not currently in his country of origin. That alone should make it quite difficult to have your name changed.

Not to mention having to convince various institutions that you are still you, under your new name... for example, I'm fairly certain that if I change my name, my bank would require me to visit the branch personally if I would want to have my details changed. Having one's name changed officially is but one small part of the process.


 

Edward Potter  Identity Verified
Spain
Local time: 11:06
Member (2003)
Spanish to English
+ ...
Makes sense Jan 8, 2010

Good points, Samuel.

 

jyuan_us  Identity Verified
United States
Local time: 05:06
Member (2005)
English to Chinese
+ ...
I think the topic starter wants to get rid of his name totally, Jan 8, 2010

instead of justing having another name for business sake. So the only option is to go through the legal process to have it changed permanently.

But still this will not completely eridicate his original name, because he has no way to change his name on his diplomas and degree certificates, and all the other legal papers he signed in the past.

[Edited at 2010-01-08 10:18 GMT]


 

Alessandra Martelli  Identity Verified
Italy
Local time: 11:06
Member (2009)
English to Italian
+ ...
Let's be serious... Jan 9, 2010

A contract is a LEGAL DOCUMENT - that means (forgive my English but I'm not a native) that has legal force and effects - therefore it is NOT LEGAL to sign a contract under a false name, even if you're called "Jack Blueberry" and everyone laughed at it since kindergarden.

I haven't heard of a country where it is considered legal to sign a contract with a fake name so far, and since you state you already worked before you already know that.

If your name gives you serious troubles, then just go for it and change it, if you're really concerned about it you wouldn't mind the efforts. Otherwise deal with it, use - for example - "Jack B." or "J. Blueberry" or "J.B." in e-mails and move on.



[Edited at 2010-01-09 00:13 GMT]


 
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