There are no 'foreign' names for children, advised dear Abby. Angry parents responded.

adminOctober 19, 2018


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The reality, said Mr. Awgu, 34, is that long names that sound strange do not end up stuck. "The practical effect of that is that nobody calls them that," he said. "So they end up with a truncated name that is anglicized anyway."

The problem for some people, however, is to make an effort.

Marwa Balkar, who does humanitarian work, is from California but has a Circassian heritage. The first day of a job he once had, he told his manager his name, which is pronounced phonetically, as it seems. The manager asked him if he had another name.

"Is my phonetic name, perfectly phonetic, too difficult for you," recalled Mrs. Balkar, who thought.

In other cases, Ms. Balkar said that people shorten their names or give them the nicknames they invent, such as Mars or Sea. "I think it's a combination of physical appearance, foreign name and fear of pronouncing it wrong," Ms. Balkar , 25, said why people were reluctant to call her by her own name. "I do not care about the bad pronunciation at all, what I do love is only effort, whether you nail it or not."

During a recent conversation with a radio host, Anand Giridharadas, a writer, said that the presenter was still mispronouncing his name. Finally he tried to correct it.

"You know, they have no problem saying Dostoevsky and Tchaikovsky," he remembered saying. The host responded by noting that he learned to pronounce Dostoevsky and Tchaikovsky because both were famous.

"The reality is that a lot of this has nothing to do with names but with whiteness," said Giridharadas, 37. "There are many complicated names of Polish, Russian, Italian and German origin that have become natural for Americans." The "unusual" names referred to in the Dear Abby column are not unique in their complexity, he said. They just tend to come from places where people are not white.


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