What’s In a Name?

Quick link: What’s Your Name? On Adopting Local Names.

my name isToday I’m writing at A Life Overseas about the names we use. I have seen some people overseas adopt local names, some adopt local versions of their own name, and some use their given name. Personally, I like to use my own name and I like to call people by their own, given names. But others want to simplify or have names that just don’t work locally. Maybe the sounds are unpronounceable by locals, maybe the word is a curse word or an insult, maybe that bothers you and maybe that doesn’t. Either way, come on over and read the essay and let me know what you think about names.

I moved to Somaliland and when people first heard my name they wanted to know why I had man’s name.

“Why is your name Rashid? You aren’t a man. Are you a man?”

Eventually I got tired of explaining that I was, indeed, a woman, despite all nomenclature to the contrary. Someone suggested I needed a Somali name and I took the first one they offered, Lula. It means diamond, or light.

Going by Lula was fun for a while and it worked really well in the village. But it isn’t my name. When I went to Nairobi or Dubai or Djibouti or Minneapolis and when I interacted with Somalis in those places, I went by Rachel.

Click here to read What’s Your Name? On Adopting Local Names.

*image via Wikimedia