It’s obvious to just about anyone who thinks about it for a few seconds that when you leave the United States and transplant yourself into a new country & culture, a lot about what you know is about to change. What may not be so quickly obvious is that even what the people in this new country will call you may also change! This has been true for us already in the first few days we have lived here in Mexico as we have tried to determine what the most “natural” sounding Spanish versions of our name’s are. Who will we introduce ourselves as?
It is quite necessary for us to “rename” ourselves with more naturally Spanish sounding names because things can get pretty complicated and funny for some names if you don’t! Because of the sounds in the Spanish language it is incredibly difficult for a Spanish speaker to pronounce an English name at times. One of our fellow missionaries here named “Earle” gave his Mexican friends a run for their money when he asked them to try and pronounce his name. When the “R” got rolled and then quickly had to turn into an “L” it left some people sounding like they were gagging which left him with the nick name of “vomit” because that’s all people could think about when they tried to say his name! LOL!
So, we don’t want our friends gagging or giving us strange looks when they try to say our names! We want it be natural and easy for them to say who we are and feel comfortable with it. Several Mexicans have already struggled to say our last name with the “r” right up against the “l” and then followed by the “t.” It’s kinda funny though! 😀Tom’s name was easy- he will be/is: “Tomas” (for those not so phonetically inclined that is pronounced like ‘Toe-Moss’ ;D). It sounds natural in the Spanish language, doesn’t have any strange connotations (that we know of at least) and is truly close to his real name of “Thomas” even though he usually goes by “Tom.”
My name wasn’t too difficult to figure out but was kinda silly, too. I usually go by “Beth” (even though my full name IS Elizabeth) so the idea of going by the Spanish-“Elisabet” wasn’t my favorite option, it’s too long and didn’t feel super natural. What we ended up landing on for me is the natural Spanish version of “Beth” which comes out: “Beti” (pronounced a bit like ‘Betty’). It feels better to me as it’s closer to “Beth” but also makes me giggle a bit because it reminds me of what I was called as a very little girl= “Bethy.” So, whenever my parents come to visit us they can get a chuckle out of my “new” Spanish name that sounds like the very long ago past. 🙂 Phew! Two names down, two to go…
Jude has been the hardest name to convert into Spanish so far! Unfortunately for him, the Spanish version of “Jude” turn’s into “Judas” (“Hoo-das”) which has very bad connotations religious people because of who Judas was in the Bible. Oh dear, we don’t want our son being associated with the disciple who betrayed Christ! His name is Jude, NOT Judas! 🙁 We didn’t want to call him “Judah” (pronounced “Hoo-da”) because that felt too different and we doubted Jude would react well to being called something so different than what his real name sounds like. After asking the advice of several people here, we decided that Jude’s name was one that would be simple to leave as is. Even though the Spanish pronunciation might come out more like “Chude” it is still closer to “Jude” and would not carry the baggage of “Judas.” So far it has worked out very well and Jude is happy with it too.
Last but not least is Iris. Thankfully her name is a natural Spanish name, spelled the same way but pronounced differently, of course. When you say her name in Spanish it comes out, “Ee-reese.” I wondered if she would react badly to being called “Ee-reese” but so far she has been happy as a clam with it. So it’s stays!
And so begins our “transformation” as people here in Mexico. Our time in Papua New Guinea changed me in many ways forever and I have no doubt that our lives here in Mexico will do the same. It’s all worth it for the sake of the gospel going out!