What’s in a name?

This is a common conversation I have here (translated into English for purposes of this blog)

Me: Hi!  I’m Brianna*!
Them: Rhianna?  Like the singer.
Me: But with a B – Bri-anna.
Them: Ahhh, Brianna.  I’m Jaraizy.
Me: What’s that?
Them: Jar-ei-cy.
Me: How do you spell that?
Them: Y-e-r-e-i-c-y.
Me: Ahhhh, Yereicy.  Nice to meet you.

Most of the people from Mexico that I knew were named Luis, José, Jorge, Cristián, or María.  In Spain, I swear that everyone was Jesús, Ángel, Javier, María, or Ana.  People on the coast are known for the creativity, and that extends to their names.  I suppose that when I get confused over names here, it’s how the older generation in the States feel when they meet the Jaydens, Graysons, Eastons, Ashtons, Paytons, Neveahs, Milas, and Addisons of our millenial children.

The following are some examples of common name “types” that I’ve run into here.  I want to make it clear that I am not in any way making fun of these names; anyone that talks to me for more than 20 minutes will probably hear me talk about how important I think a name is to someone’s identity.  Making fun of someone’s name is making fun of them, and it’s not nice.

This is the type that I call “American-inspired.”  I have no clue if they are actually that, but when I am learning the person’s name, that is how I explain it to myself to remember it.  Phonetics are much more fixed in Spanish than they are in English.  The five vowel sounds make their five sounds (with a few diphthongs), and there are only a few consonants that make more than one sound.

  • Because of this, to spell the name “Jeffrey” as such wouldn’t make any sense in Spanish; thus Yefry.
  • Hailyn is actually my host sister’s name; if I were someone that wanted to have a baby and torture them with a name that would be really confusing for American teachers, I would give them this spelling of “Eileen” because I think it’s really beautiful.
  • The first time someone told me his name was “Eh, Steven,” it was actually me that asked him, “Do you spell that E-s-t-i-v-e-n?”  Of course the answer was yes.  One note: this does also appear as Stiven.
  • The last one is a bit of a stretch, but the only way I can remember the name Yahemis is to remember that it’s like “Jamie” with a prolonged vowel sound in the middle.

Then there are the German-sounding names.  These tend to be more common for men from what I’ve seen/heard.

The “ladies” and the “yers” are the costeñol version of American Jaydens/Cadens/Haydens/Braydens, but for girls.  I’m sure there’s an American version for girls, but the closest I can think of right now is Madison/Addison, and that just doesn’t take the example far enough for my liking.

A common thread among names is the diphthong, the two side-by-side vowels that you see in a lot of these names.

There’s also this phenomenon that happens on the role call list.  Marías and Luises are like Ashleys were in 1986/1987 – everywhere.  The nice thing about the compound name is that there’s automatically something to differentiate them.  The tough thing is that they’re a mouthful.  Some have clear abbreviations – Luisca and María Isa for example – while others are a bit more ingenuous – Mafe for example.

One last thing that makes the introductions really hard for me: people introduce themselves with their full names.  First, second (middle), and both last names (dad’s and then mom’s).  So often that conversation from the beginning of the post actually goes like this:

Me: Hi!  I’m Brianna!
Them: Rhianna?  Like the singer.
Me: But with a B – Bri-anna.
Them: Ahhh, Brianna.  I’m Jaraizy Alejandra Rodríguez Fontalvo.
Me: What’s your first name?
Them: Jaraizy.
Me: What’s that?
Them: Jar-ei-cy.
Me: How do you spell that?
Them: Y-e-r-e-i-c-y.
Me: Ahhhh, Yereicy.  Nice to meet you.

*Yes, in Spanish I pronounce my name the way I hate it pronounced in English…but with a rolled r too, so it’s not exactly the same.  I’ve just learned that if I say my name correctly with the lazy “r” and the lazy “a” I get people thinking my name is “Blina.”

 

IF YOU LIKED THIS POST, SUBSCRIBE TO GET E-MAIL NOTIFICATION FOR WHEN MY BLOG IS UPDATED!

About the author

Mountain View

A little about me!

Hey! I'm Brianna Hope, a born & bred midwesterner embarking on an adventure as a Peace Corps Volunteer in Colombia. I am clumsy, I spill a lot, and I share most of my interests with 6 year-olds.

Follow me on Snapchat: alabrianna

Disclaimer

The content of this website is mine alone and does not necessarily reflect the views of the U.S. Government, the Peace Corps, or the Colombian Government.

Categories

Subscribe for blog update

* indicates required