Ethnic names that don't seem to match the ethnic group

Cecil once wrote about Irish names that sound Spanish, like Costello and Spain. I’m curious about this phnomenon in other ethnic groups, too - names that don’t seem to match up with the ethnic group they’re normally associated with. A few I can think of off the top of my head:

Rothschild - Ashkenazi Jewish
Martin - in New Mexico, it’s a Hispanic name
Smith - in Las Cruces, New Mexico, the vast majority of Smiths I encounterd were Hispanic
Park - Korean

Any others that you can think of?

There are a buttload of Irish Costellos.

:smack: Hey y’know Doug, sometimes people DO read Cecil’s columns before posting…

…lemme think here…I got something…unh…I know! A lot of folks in Panama have English-sounding names.

Oh yeah, and Dutch Jews sometimes have Spanish or Portuguese-sounding names, because a lot of them emigrated there during the days of the Inquisition.

My kids had a pediatrician for a while whose name was Rosario Gonzaga (or “Dr. Rosie”). She was Taiwanese.

There are lots of people from India (or whose folks were from India) who have Portuguese surnames. I assume that’s from the Portuguese colonization of Goa.

My grandmother’s name was Rosario Juandaquile. She was Filipino.

My grandfather was AA and their kids were named Estella, Clara, Rosario, Jose, Rodrigo, Kyle (after granddad), Malcolm and Marshall.

Not many 1/2 black 1/2 Filipio kids with names like that back in the 1940’s and 50’s.

You realize that transliteration can be difficult? Korean “Park” is also rendered as “Pak.” And “Lee” can come out as “Rhee.”

A lot of African Americans have Welsh names, like Jones, Evans, Williams, and Thomas.

Some of them are slave names, but all of them? I don’t know.

Maybe because of St. Martin de Porres, a black/Spanish guy from Peru?

My friend laughed at a Spanish guy being named Hector, because all she thought of was the Greek guy, but Hector’s pretty popular among Spanish folks.

And yeah, Philippino or Indian folks with Spanish names is not too unusual.

Isn’t the Spanish version of Martin simply Martin if you leave out the accent mark, which most American styles do (Martín)?

My mother is Chinese and her name is Juan. Every other letter she gets addresses her as a man.

Certain groups of Maharashtrians have names that look really American-mostly the Konkanasths. A clear sign of being Marathi is if your last name ends in a syllable pronounced “eh”-however, this often results in names like Kane, Dane, Gore etc. We would pronounce it “Kah-nayyyy” “Dah-nayyyyy” and “Go-rayyyy” but they look like standard American last names.

I think I’ve mentioned about the devout Catholic Patrick Ohara – who was full-blooded Japanese, from Nagasaki.

It’s important to remember that Latin America is nearly as much a melting pot as Anglo-America. The founder of Chile was Bernardo O’Higgins. Heinlein told in his travel book Tramp Royale, and later made it a minor incident in one of his novels, encountering a young lady in Peru who stated her surname as “HONE-ace” – spelled J-O-N-E-S. There was a large Welsh colony in Argentina (which a few years ago was the nation with the second-largest Welsh-speaking population, after the U.K. and with numbers in the five digits), many German emigrants settled in Brazil and Paraguay, and I’m personally e-acquainted with a chemical engineer working in Brazil whose family is of Italian extraction.* Several countries you would not at first think of have Tamil minorities of significant size; I recall Trinidad and Tobago as one. Don’t forget that the Philippines were a stable Spanish colony for 300 years; I’d make a top-of-head guess that Spanish-derived names are used by about 10% of the population.

  • Amusingly, a mutual friend I met through him is called “Kike” – not the English-language vulgar insult for Jew, but KEE-kay, a nickname for his baptismal name Enrique.

Others have explained Martin and Park, I don’t know about Smith, but Rothschild comes from the German for “Red Sheild”, if I’m not mistaken.

I’ve seen it spelled “Pak” and “Paak”, but it’s usually spelled as “Park” in my experience. The R was apparently inserted by British translators, who are also responsible for the Rs in “Burma” and “Myanmar”; since British speakers don’t pronounce Rs at the ends of syllables, there’s no confusion for them. But it ends up causing Americans to mispronounce those words, since there’s no R sound in the original words nor in the British pronunciation.

And I don’t know why the OP considers it strange that it’s associated with a Jewish family. The majority of American Jews are Ashkenazi and the family names that are generally considered stereotypically Jewish here are mostly German-origin names – Fleischman, Silberberg, Goldstein, Rosenbaum, Seinfeld, Neumann, Feinblatt, Rothkopf …

I watched an entire season of Battlestar Galactica thinking that Grace Park’s name was Grace Pak. Somehow my mind just removed the R every time I saw her name in print. I was flabbergasted when I finally realized it was Park.

No mention yet of the “Liberator of Chile”, Bernardo O’Higgins? When Ifirst heard this name as a kid I assumed it was a joke.

Oh, I believe Polycarp mentioned him just a bit ago…

I’m always privately amused when names seem to have an ethnic mismatch, such as:
Consuela McCarthy
Heidi Rodriguez
Bernard Phouksounh
I suppose many are the result of marriages and many names are changed or modified in an effort to sound American or to make it easier for Americans to learn to say the names, but some of the combinations can be pretty unusual-sounding.