My nephew and his wife just adopted an adorable 7 month old baby from Vietnam. The excited parents gave him a very down-to-earth English first name and, in honor of his heritage, a Vietnamese middle name. I’m pretty sure this middle name is probably common in Vietnam, but when I saw it, I thought, “This kid may have some issues in grade school at roll call.”
His middle name is Phuc.
So my question is: Anybody out there have unusual names that caused them some grief in school? Any Lipschitzes, Dweezels, Dungs, or Tallulah Belles? How did you handle it in grade school where any difference is tantamount to a bull’s-eye? Did it make you a stronger, better person? (“My name is Phuc. Wanna make something of it?”) Or did you ultimately just end up using another name entirely?
I have four given names, I use the fourth because it’s the only one I don’t have to spell out for everyone and I don’t have to correct their pronunciation. Also, after I got divorced I decided to keep my married name - not because of any attachment to it, I just didn’t feel the need to go back to my rather unusual (for an English person) surname. That’s another people can neither spell nor pronounce.
My husband and his brother are Federico and Enzo. They don’t live in Italy or anything so their names are “funny” locally. Aside from people wanting to spell it FRederico, apparently it was never, ever an issue because they were so friendly and confident. Meanwhile, what happened to the outgoingness, but that’s another story.
I have a goofy IRL name. Generally I’ve “handled” it by trying to be funny/jokey about it, but not mean. I used to be friends with a woman who had and equally goofy name, and if people commented she would be nasty to them. Personally, I don’t think she did herself a lot of favours because she got a reputation for being a bitch, and not in a good way.
My first name was inspired by the Hobbit. I hated getting crap for it when I was in elementary school so when I made the switch to middle school, I asked all my teachers to call me by my first name and have gone by that name ever since.
I was a military brat for the first twelve years of my life. so not only was I the new kid every two or three years, but I was sadled with Yancey as a given name.
I fought (badly) for the first few moves, then at about 8 or nine I realized I could make people laugh and wouldn’t have to get hit so much.
When we move to Japan the second time, I asked my Mom to register me as Lee, my middle name, and that changed everything.
I go by Yancey now, mostly because is it so unusual, it sets me apart from other names when I submit a demo or go out on a read.
This story is not about me, but about my late father.
My dad, who was born in the States, was burdened by his immigrant parents with an extremely ethnic-sounding name. No wait – an extremely obscure and unusual ethnic-sounding name. All his life he was given easier to pronounce Americanized nicknames by schoolmates, army buddies, co-workers and relatives. I don’t think he ever really resisted the practice, but I suspect that he would have liked to have a name that could stand on its own and not elicit a big wide-eyed “Huh?” every time he mentioned it.
Somewhere along the line he resigned himself to his fate. But he insisted on something when he and my mother decided to raise a family. Their kids would get middle of the road Americanized names, and no one – not the grandkids or anyone else – would ever be named after him.
~ stuyguy, whose real first name has been the most popular given boys’ name for a couple of decades running
My uncle was saddled with the name Ludwig. And no, he doesn’t live in Germany. He goes by his middle name, and apparently he has done so ever since he was a boy. According to my parents, this one relative (an immigrant) desperately wanted to have someone in the family named Ignatz. He offered money to anyone who would inflict that name on one of their sons. Thankfully, no one agreed
I have absolutely no idea. I didn’t want to ask about its significance because I didn’t want to sound like a butinsky uncle. As an aside, I knew someone in college who always refused to give his middle name. I found out later it was “Valentine,” which I thought was kind of cool.
I had a funny surname and unfortunately people gave me shit for it for years and years. I met twenty year olds that guffawed at me and lecturers who thought that I was making fun of them. Even an Army recruiter found it hilarious. Oh, and I was told I should have grown a sense of humour, because, you know, going Ho ho ho at a strange surname is the apex of humour.
Luckily things got better after the University, and especially after I moved to the UK, where it’s exotic rather than silly.
My last name sounds like a euphamistic word for the male wanker, so I got ribbed plenty hard as a kid. It was especially brutal in middle school (“is your middle name Sucks?”, et al). Then again, all kids get made fun of in middle school - my last name was just the method by which I was attacked.
But, eventually, you grow up and move on with your life. Your nephew may hate his middle name as a kid, but he’ll learn to shrug his shoulders and fret about other things. I doubt it would be the reason he ends up on top of a high rise building shooting at passerby’s, if that’s what has you concerned.
My mother works in schools with lots of immigrant kids and reports that yes, for better or for worse, Phuc is a very common boy’s first name in some parts of the world.
Normally the English-speaking staff are torn about what to do with these little Phucs running around: they consider it inappropriate to tell the parents what they should or shouldn’t name their kids, and usually the kids themselves decide to change their names after a certain amount of immersion in the local culture.
They did decide to step in once, tho, when the kid in question had the surname Yue.
I don’t have a funny name, but one that is unusual for my generation. People who only know me through written correspondence or telephone conversations are usually surprised to find out I’m not 20+ years older. I used to hate my name(it makes people break out into song, and that gets old), but now I love it and would never think of changing it.
Nah, I wasn’t that concerned. I just had a general feeling that growing up can be tough enough without burdening the little darling with one more thing to deal with. But, again, I’m not sure why they chose the name they did; they could have had a good reason.
On the other hand, my brother and I were snickering about it yesterday. He’s 43 and I’m 50, which I’m sure says more about us than I’m entirely comfortable with.
Do we share a name? All but one of the people I knew with my first name were old ladies. And then there are so many cultural references with it. I’m really surprised I didn’t hear it more. Not to mention the last name which also lent itself to jokes. Oooh, fun. The thing is, I also like the name. I just got tired of it for a while. And no, you can’t get anything you want.