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Old 03-05-2014, 10:18 PM
 
Location: Oakland, CA
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I've noticed that many immigrants from China, Philippines, Vietnam, Korea, and Japan have English names, and if they don't, their American-born children have English names in addition to a native name. However I've noticed that Indian immigrants rarely have a separate English name, and continue to give their American-born children Indian names that are sometimes difficult for other Americans to pronounce.

Is there a reason why Indians almost never have English names? Is there something in Hinduism, Jainism, or Sikhism that makes names sacred? Is there a special fixation on names in the cultures of India? Or is there something to do with avoiding associations with British colonialism?

What about other countries like Indonesia, Malaysia, Burma, Cambodia, and Laos? Do immigrants from these countries to America adopt English names or do they insist on using their birth name? Do they give English names to their children or do they insist on giving them only one name from their ancestral country?

I know that Thailand (and maybe Laos?) is a special case because of their dual name system, so I didn't include it in this post.
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Old 03-06-2014, 01:10 PM
 
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Immigrants that come from China usually have unofficial English names that they had used to interact with English speakers but these are usually not their legal names.
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Old 03-06-2014, 06:30 PM
 
Location: Oakland, CA
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Why do so few Indian people have unofficial English names?

I feel like these Chinese/Korean/Japanese/Vietnamese/Filipino immigrants often give their kids an official English name. Think about people like Ken Jeong, George Takei, and John Cho. And compare those names to people whose parents were Indian, like Aziz Ansari, Piyush "Bobby" Jindal, and Kalpen Suresh Modi (a.k.a. Kal Penn).
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Old 03-06-2014, 06:44 PM
 
Location: Melbourne, Australia
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I've wondered about this too. Why Indians haven't adopted English names compared to many other nations that have been colonised. Not saying they SHOULD (or that they shouldn't if they wish to) but one could also ask why those in Africa say, or other parts of Asia, have moreso than Indians.

I believe one factor might be religion, although this doesn't apply to a lot of Chinese. I've noticed this 'taking on an English name thing' a lot less prevalent among the Japanese, FWIW.

I was born in Singapore of Chinese ancestry and came here as a baby and was given an English name at birth. It was because my parents were pretty westernised, spoke English and were Christian. My parents had Chinese names but adopted English names later in life (legally). During my mother's generation few people had 'English' or Christian given names, now it's common in Singapore, especially among Christians but also others.

I've had quite a few Indian Singaporean/Malaysian friends, most have had Indian names but a few have had Christian given names, or western ones. They not surprisingly came from more westernised/Christian backgrounds.

I think religion has played a role in Africa, where I notice most people seem to have 'English' given names too like John, David, Mary.etc.
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Old 03-07-2014, 09:22 PM
 
Location: US Empire, Pac NW
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I posed a similar question once to my Indian friends in college once. One had a name that was really similar to Neal so it wasn't that big a deal, the other was not difficult to pronounce, but would throw people for a loop first time they saw it. The others who were TAs and / or lecturers would almost invariably have an Indian first name, with the one exception being my chemistry TA, who was named Dan (legal name, not a pseudonym).

The main reason given to me was that it's unique and they want to preserve at least some of their culture coming over. Further, they cherished this uniqueness and didn't necessarily want to blend in the first generation. They, like many in Asia, have looooooong memories and thus loooooong concepts of time. If it takes 5 generations to fully assimilate, that's a drop in the bucket in their total family history, so one generation isn't a big deal, especially if a large percentage of their population believes in reincarnation.

Some of them also find a little humor in having Americans try to pronounce their names.

The ones with long names or difficult to pronounce names would also almost universally have a nickname. I remember one TA, a PhD student with a last name of Sundararajan, and another was at least 320 characters long. The former went by Sandy, the other by TJ. So, in the end, after the difficult first greeting, it is resolved with a nickname.
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Old 03-08-2014, 11:08 AM
 
Location: Filipinas
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Quote:
Originally Posted by usuario View Post
Why do so few Indian people have unofficial English names?

I feel like these Chinese/Korean/Japanese/Vietnamese/Filipino immigrants often give their kids an official English name. Think about people like Ken Jeong, George Takei, and John Cho. And compare those names to people whose parents were Indian, like Aziz Ansari, Piyush "Bobby" Jindal, and Kalpen Suresh Modi (a.k.a. Kal Penn).
Filipino names is mixed not just English name

Pedro - Pedring - Peter for example
Juan - Juanito - John
it's already common to Filipinos to have English name due to Philippine History or they just want a name
taken from other countries or some well known person.

Last edited by pinai; 03-08-2014 at 11:17 AM..
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Old 03-09-2014, 10:43 AM
 
Location: Oakland, CA
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Most Filipino people I know have an English first name and Spanish last name. I don't know any children of Filipino immigrants who have non-English first names. Whereas I don't know any children of Indian immigrants who DO have an English first name that isn't a nickname. What gives?
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Old 03-09-2014, 10:55 AM
 
3,644 posts, read 8,997,592 times
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Quote:
Originally Posted by usuario View Post
Most Filipino people I know have an English first name and Spanish last name. I don't know any children of Filipino immigrants who have non-English first names. Whereas I don't know any children of Indian immigrants who DO have an English first name that isn't a nickname. What gives?
From the Filipinos I know, names like Katrina, Marco, Estelle, Miguel, Carlo, Andre, Nico, and Bea are common. So they're not all traditional English names. Some of them are American names, but I dont think they are English in origin. Tons of completely made-up names as well. Filipinos can be very creative with names

Last edited by Smtchll; 03-09-2014 at 11:05 AM..
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Old 03-09-2014, 07:21 PM
 
Location: Jersey
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Most Indian names are derived from Sanskrit. Sanskrit serves the same function for Hindus as Latin does for Catholics, Arabic does for Muslims, Hebrew does for Jews, and English does for Baptists; so I'm not sure why you are baffled by the fact that most Hindus have Hindu names. It has nothing to do at all with assimilation(or lack thereof). It would be fake and silly to call myself or name my kid "Michael."

Many if not most Western names are derived from the Bible or saints, so they easily translate into other languages whose speakers have been/are historically Christian. The same is not the case with Indian names.
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Old 03-09-2014, 09:06 PM
 
Location: Melbourne, Australia
9,781 posts, read 16,231,639 times
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Quote:
Originally Posted by TylerJAX View Post
Most Indian names are derived from Sanskrit. Sanskrit serves the same function for Hindus as Latin does for Catholics, Arabic does for Muslims, Hebrew does for Jews, and English does for Baptists; so I'm not sure why you are baffled by the fact that most Hindus have Hindu names. It has nothing to do at all with assimilation(or lack thereof). It would be fake and silly to call myself or name my kid "Michael."

Many if not most Western names are derived from the Bible or saints, so they easily translate into other languages whose speakers have been/are historically Christian. The same is not the case with Indian names.
Like I said, Christian Indians in Malaysia and Singapore are a bit more likely to adopt 'Christian names' or European names, although it seems less the case in India and Sri Lanka.
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