Changing my name to one that has a non-English letter in it. Bad idea?

Here’s the lowdown. I’ve got a peculiar last name. I don’t want to give it out (just because) but it would be in the same league as something like John Potion or John Cabinet or John Cardboard. It’s a semi-common noun in the English language.

So I did some geneology research and discovered that the spelling is an approximation by the immigration officials when my ancestors came over from the old country (shocker!). In my case, that’s Norway. So I found out that it’s pretty much the same except for the letter that is now an “e” was originally an “ø” (<- that’s supposed to be an “o” with a diagonal line through it – I’m not sure if letters typed from a Mac to a web page are going to appear correctly for PC users.)

So I kinda like the idea of correcting an old error and sort of reconnecting to my roots in a small way. Plus, I am a designer by trade and if I have a Scandinavian-looking name, it might might make some positive connotations to the whole Scandinavian Design thing. But that’s not the main goal, just a by-product.

The problem is: what kinds of headaches am I opening myself up for using a weird letter in my name? I already have to tell people how to spell my name because they never guess that it’s spelled just like the the semi-common noun. But now in addition, I am going to have to say “it’s an ‘o’ with a diagonal line through it.” I’m sure that most people won’t know where to find it on their keyboards (on the Mac, it’s [Option - o]).

I’d go for it if that’s what makes you happy. But I think you’re gonna have to get used to explaining the ø thing for the rest of your life. Also, some automated systems where you have to input your last name may not be able to recognize it and that might lead to some frustration.

It’s probably gonna be a trade off.

The Norwegians I know who have ø, æ, or å in their names have been unanimous in saying that it’s a hassle whenever they have to spell their name outside of Scandinavia. I’d say you’re setting yourself up for a lot of hassle on a daily basis if you do this.

How about a compromise? Use “oe”, which is what Norskies use for primitive computer systems that eat the eighth bit. It’s still going to be a bit of a hassle, but at least it will be letters everyone’s seen before, and it’s almost as authentic.

It’s John Book, isn’t it?

Reg the name with a standard “o”. Use the “ø” and “o” variants as you see fit. As far as I am aware, you are allowed all the aliases you like (IANAL).

My surname has an accented letter at the end, and that’s tough to deal with. For Social Security, my name has an apostrophe after it, but most of my ID cards have the letter without any accent. I would recommend using an “o” or “oe” (pick one and stick with it, obviously) on any official documentation, and when you write your name, just write it using the method you prefer.

Hmm, I have found that, during WWI we dropped the ‘von’ from our name (although why beats me, it is still as germanic as all hell) and have been considering re-adding it. (sorry for the sorta hijack). Anyone have advice on that as well?

Oh, I am in favour BTW of you using the ‘o’ and the ‘ø’ interchangably as you see fit

To be quite honest I think it’s an absolutely horrible idea. You’ll be fighting the confusion your whole life.

But that’s just my opinion - after all, I’m not the one stuck with a bad last name.

Oh, no. I’m sorry. But thanks for playing.

In high school, all the men’s room walls said “BOOK” or “BOOKER.”
I finally figured out why. The maintenence guys found it easier to make F#CK into BOOK than to scrub it off the wall.

If you use an odd character in your name, folks will find it hard to mention your name in their replies.