Legit ethnic names that don't translate well — The Bump
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Legit ethnic names that don't translate well

My coworker's adult daughter is named Barashit. It was fine when they lived in Israel, but when they emigrated she changed her name to Genny (short for Genesis). 

 My MIL loves to tell the story of a patient she had whose Hindu name sounded like "a rash on my booby." Not sure if it is true, but there you go.

It is sad that some names just don't translate, but it is a fact. Anyone else know of any?

Anyone know which English names are bad in other languages?

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Re: Legit ethnic names that don't translate well

  • While browsing Scottish girl's names I came across "Fuktor". Now pair that with our last name, Crack***, and you have one unfortunate name!
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    One of my best friends in high school was from Yugoslavia, and she told me that Sarah is a homonym for the Serbian word for poop.
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  • My Israeli friend's name was Moran. And then she moved to America when she was 11 and changed it to May. 11 year olds can be very cruel. 
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  • My husband has a cousin in Thailand named Kittyporn. The -porn suffix is very common there.
  • One of my Swedish cousins is married to a guy named Odd (it's actually a Norwegian name-- quite common in Norway). Doesn't work so well in English! 

  • I used to teach quite a few Sikh students whose names sounded pretty dirty in English- Mandeep, Ramandeep, Sukhdeep, etc. About half the students at the school were Sikh so there wasn't any teasing because they were totally normal names to them, but DH (who worked at the same school) and I had an initial giggle over them. I also used to teach a Fakhir. Adorable kid, unfortunate name in an English speaking country. 


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  • I've had the joy of explaining to a few parents why their two year old won't sto saying sh.it.ty, thanks to their new friend Kishity.
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  • My friend's first roommate in college: Miho.  Pronounced Me-Ho.  She was either from China or Taiwan. She had an American nickname fairly quickly :)
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  • I worked at a small, local amusement park when I was in college. One summer one of my ride op's name was Phuc.  Every day I had to assign rides to everyone in Kiddie Land and read out the ride list in front of everyone.  I worked really hard to make sure I was pronouncing the U correctly so that is didn't sound like I was saying, "Tubs of Fun: Jeremy, Carrousel: Jesse, Ladybugs: F vck!"
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  • I know an Indian lady whose name is Mala: "necklace" in Sanskrit, "bad one" in Spanish. A little boy named Matan: "gift" in Hebrew, "they kill" in Spanish...

     I'll never be able to use my all-time favorite Russian girl name - my mom's name and the word for love - because it looks weird and sounds like Lube Off :(

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  • image jupiterthecat:
    One of my Swedish cousins is married to a guy named Odd (it's actually a Norwegian name-- quite common in Norway). Doesn't work so well in English! 

    Love that you mentioned this one! :D

    I married into a Norwegian family and am living in Norway, we just had this discussion ourselves! We have to be conscious of how both halves of our family (mine being American, the Hubs being Norwegian) will pronounce the names of our children...

    'Odd' is very common here, as is 'Geir', which when pronounced in the English language is essentially like saying 'gay.'

    Both of those are off our list for that reason. LOL!

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