What is in a name or a title?
Actually, quite a lot, if you consider it. It is our identity.
A name or a title is how you are known by others and, in addition, illustrates how people feel that they should address you, even though they are strangers. It is a matter of respect and has a powerful influence on how you are perceived.
However, when you move to another country or even visit another country, it may be difficult to preserve your name the way it was. You can easily become someone else. Certainly, things can get a lot more complicated.
Common names in one language become difficult in another.
Recently one of my students brought this sort of problem to my attention. His name is Alejandro. This is a common name here in Peru. However, when he goes to the U.S. on business, people have an awful time with his name.
Registering at a hotel or responding to requests for his name become complicated. Alejandro has to spell out his name carefully and even then the result can be less than satisfactory. What he wanted was to find a way to make it easier for people to learn his name and thus avoid confusing situations.
So, he asked for my advice, and I admitted that I had a similar experience in Peru. Here, because of my work, I frequently have to give my name in order to enter buildings or to clerks at the clinic where I get my health care. In these situations, I have given up trying to spell out my name. It just doesn’t seem to work well.
Now I hand people my card or my carnet so that they can read out the name. In this regard, I suggested that Alejandro try something similar. He could carry business cards and give one to the person checking him into a hotel.
Another idea I brought up, one I don’t like, is to change his name so it is easier for English speakers. This is often done by Asians visiting an English speaking country. They take an English name to solve this problem. In the case of my student, for example, he could become “Al.”
In the end, I don’t believe that he was fully satisfied with any of my ideas.
Fortunately, my name, Larry, is short and simple. Even so, sometimes when people ask for my name I say “Lorenzo,” which is somewhat the equivalent to Larry in Spanish. It just seems easier because with my real name I always have to explain.
For others, with more complicated names, the situation must be much worse. I can’t imagine what it would be like to live in Peru and have a name like Zbigniew.
Then, I would change my name to “Al”.
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