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Poll: Do you change people's names according to the language you're speaking (e.g. Helen vs. Elena)?
Thread poster: Staff Staff
Local time: 03:35
Nov 1, 2007

This forum topic is for the discussion of the poll question "Do you change people's names according to the language you're speaking (e.g. Helen vs. Elena)?".

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Henry Hinds  Identity Verified
United States
Local time: 04:35
English to Spanish
+ ...
Not me Nov 1, 2007

My daughter's name is Elena and that she remains.


Andres & Leticia Enjuto  Identity Verified
Local time: 07:35
Member (2005)
English to Spanish
+ ...
Only... Nov 1, 2007

Only when I address to the French Embassy because as a French citizen I'm registered as "Laetitia Hélène", otherwise I always use "Leticia Elena" or "Letty".

Andrés sometimes uses the English version of his name, Andrew, because greeting "Hi, I'm Andrés (undress)" over the phone might sound funny.icon_lol.gif




Local time: 11:35
Not me... Nov 1, 2007

... but in the UK I've met several Chinese people who choose an English name for their stay here (so it's easier for Occidentals to pronnounce it), so I address them this way if they ask me to do so.
I guess I'm lucky because my name exists under the same form (or very similar) in most Occidental languages. But, whenever possible, I tend to adapt the pronunciation to that of the native language of the person I'm talking to, so that they can easily recognize the name.



Local time: 12:35
English to French
+ ...
not others'name but my name Nov 1, 2007

I never change people's names however I said my name was Elena in Spain.

In France everyone believes that I have an English name or that I pretend to, whereas it just comes from Brittanyicon_smile.gif

And it appears to be pretty useful --written the way it isicon_smile.gif



M. Anna Kańduła  Identity Verified
United Kingdom
Local time: 11:35
English to Polish
Never Nov 1, 2007

... unless my own. And only switching between my native Polish among other Poles and non-Polish for non-Poles, for whom I'm Anni.

I don't change people's names, as they might not like it, and in case of Chinese friends' names - what would that be? "Hello, White Snowflake, how are you today?" ? Err... no.



John Cutler  Identity Verified
Local time: 12:35
Spanish to English
+ ...
Seriously and jokingly Nov 1, 2007

I change people’s names sometimes, both seriously and jokingly. I’ve worked with a woman whose father is English and, although she’s grown up here in Spain and generally goes by Maria, I call her Mary because I always speak English to her.

On the other hand, I also joke with some of the secretaries at work and change their names. My favorite is Maria Rosa, who I’ve dubbed “Mary Pink”. She thinks it’s a great name, and now they’ve all taken to calling me by my name in Catalan. I like it and see it as a sign of acceptance into the culture.


Yaotl Altan  Identity Verified
Local time: 05:35
Member (2006)
English to Spanish
+ ...
Never Nov 1, 2007

No. My name Yaotl means "warrior" and it would be funny to hear warrior, guerriero, Krieger, muyahid instead of that.

I think we must respect original names. I hated the Spanish embassy when it changed the names of some friends of mine.

Former name Current name
Yaybel María Isabel
Gianina Cristina
Sophee Sofía

Do you know if there are other Embassies fighting this language-based war?icon_smile.gif

[Modificato alle 2007-11-01 19:22]


Kirill Semenov  Identity Verified
Local time: 13:35
Member (2004)
English to Russian
+ ...
It depends Nov 1, 2007

Of course, changing a name when translating a passport is not a great idea. But when translating a fiction, changing some names may be very good and rightful.

Some instances which I can remember are, for example:

1) `Oakenshield' and some other names from Prof. Tolkien were translated into Russian as derivative from `Oak' and `Shield', and sounded nice.

2) When translating`The Mystery of Edwin Drood' our Russian (and famous) translator changed the family name of the character, Rose Bud, to Rosa Button, because `Button' sounds close to the Russian word for `bud' and gives the idea of the flower ready to blossom. At the same time, `button' sounds as an English name for a Russian ear. It perfectly keeps the idea and saves the `speaking name'.

3) Changing names to a national standard was one of the good approaches during the previous ProZ translation contests. The contestants often changed the names from the initial text to suit their language community, and I think it was brilliant.

Again, I'm just trying to state that changing names may be a great idea when seeking for a good style in literature, but it may be dangerous when working with any legal papers.

[Edited at 2007-11-01 19:04]


Marsha Way  Identity Verified
Local time: 05:35
Spanish to English
+ ...
I do with my students sometimes Nov 1, 2007

I teach EFL and if my student has an equivalent I sometimes use it- my Miguel is Michael, Roberto is Robert, but I have had names that do not have a simple equivalent, like Neftali, so I keep it (but give it a good American pronunciation!)
Of course, if anyone would object, I would go back to their original name, but so far no one has (But then again, I guess students would not want to contradict their teacher;)
The girls in my groups are actually starting to have more names such as Karen, Brenda, Jennifer, etc. And names that are the same, Monica, for example.
Normal, everyday and business- NOPE, I don't run around baptizing people with new names!


Local time: 23:35
Spanish to English
+ ...
when writing transliterated names Nov 1, 2007

I don't (deliberately) change people's names when speaking, but transliterated names (e.g. Russian names) sometimes need to be changed if, for example, they occur in a French text being translated into English.
On a different point, I did a little English teaching as holiday jobs before becoming a translator. I wasn't given a list of names, so I asked the students their names, and repeated back what I thought they had said, to confirm. They seemed to regard it as a counteroffer and accepted whatever I said, and answered to it from then on without batting an eyelid. I found out later that I had got some names very wrong.


Maryse Trevithick  Identity Verified
Local time: 12:35
English to Arabic
+ ...
my name Nov 1, 2007

When I moved to Spain people were calling me Marisé
( which i don't like the sound of ) so now I just say my name is Marisa ( it's much easier as people don't have to ask me 3 times to repeat my name and then call me something else... and it sounds more exotic!!)


Heidi C  Identity Verified
Local time: 06:35
English to Spanish
+ ...
My name... pronunciation Nov 1, 2007

In Spanish, and when talking to Spanish speaking people, my name has always rhymed with "lady".

In English, it is easier to stay with the original pronunciation with the sound of "ei" being like the "i" in "light".

When I lived in Mexico, this presented no problem, for the languages and the people never mixed: always spoke Spanish with the same people, always spoke English with the same people. So the change comes naturally and without thinking.

Now, in Puerto Rico, I am in trouble! I pronounce my name according to the language I'm talking in, which may change during the same conversation or while being with the same person or according to who is in the group!

Really confusing now, specially when talking on the phone or leaving a message for an English speaker while the person answering speaks Spanish icon_smile.gif


Erik Freitag  Identity Verified
Local time: 12:35
Member (2006)
Dutch to German
+ ...
@Heidi Nov 1, 2007

Heidi C wrote:

In Spanish, and when talking to Spanish speaking people, my name has always rhymed with "lady".

In English, it is easier to stay with the original pronunciation with the sound of "ei" being like the "i" in "light".

I 've always found it amazing how very popular your utterly German (and beautiful) name is in different languagesicon_wink.gif


Mariam Osmann
Local time: 12:35
English to Arabic
+ ...
with subsaharan african friends Nov 1, 2007

Many of them have Arabic names + suffix.
Like for my name Mariam, they use Mariama instead, or Aminatou vs Amina, Mohammadi vs Mohamed or Ahmadou Vs Ahmad, etc.
They know the Arabic equivalent of their names by heart and since they live in an Arabic country they don't mind if I use the "shorter" name.

I remember I had a neighbor who lived for many years in Italy, she told me that the Italian equivalent of my name is Maria and Madonna (Notre Dame). She used to call me Maria, Marie and occasionally my real name.

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Poll: Do you change people's names according to the language you're speaking (e.g. Helen vs. Elena)?

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