Names that Sound Funny in Other Languages. Different Meanings of Names
"What means my name to you?"
What means my name to you?..
As does the melancholy rumour
Of distant waves, or, of a summer,
The forest's hushed nocturnal sigh.
Found on a fading album page,
Dim will it seem and enigmatic,
Like words traced on a tomb, a relic
Of some long dead and vanished age.
What's in my name?..
Long since forgot,
Erased by new, tempestuous passion,
Of tenderness 'twill leave you not
The lingering and sweet impression.
But in an hour of agony,
Pray, speak it, and recall my image,
And say, "He still remembers me,
His heart alone still pays me homage."
A poem by a famous Russian poet Alexander Pushkin
translated by I.Zheleznova.
Different languages- different meanings
So, we have a first name (which is given to us) and a last name (surname), which we usually inherit.
Given names are more important probably because they represent a voluntary choice. A first name is usually given for some reason, with some thought, or vice versa, without much thought.
How often when we hear somebody’s first name we wonder “Gosh, what his (or hers) parents were thinking?
In any case a first name can be crucial for a person. Ancient people considered that a first name can predetermine a person’s fate.
The name of a person will always be significant because it will be the first thing that will give him a personality in the minds of other people who even haven’t seen him yet.
Lucky those parents who know for sure what name they will give to their newborn.
Many others go through tons of books and references and very often end up with weird names which will make their kid an object of bullying at school.
But very often there are names that may sound right to a certain language or dialect but may seem funny or strange to other languages or dialect.
Know what your name might mean in another language before you visit this country
This hub is written solely on my own experience and observations. Since I know three languages (Russian, Hebrew and English) I am able to feel the discrepancy of certain names in different languages. What seems normal and nice in English might sound funny or even vulgar in Russian, and the other way around. A beautiful English name might mean something naughty in Hebrew.
I am talking about regular names, not about weird or bad names which are a sick invention of contemporary craziness. I am talking about names that are common and decent for the country of their origin, but good luck going with those names abroad…
So, below you will find some common popular English, Russian and Hebrew names which will sound funny, naughty or even vulgar for the ears of foreigners. The list is very short; it includes only the names that I myself figured out. If my readers know similar cases from other languages, they are welcome to add to my list.
Maybe this way we will be able to prevent some people from getting into awkward situations in case if they travel in those countries.
English girls names that sound funny of bad in Russian language
- Saloma- means "straw" in Russian
- Krysa- means “rat” in Russian
- Noga- Actually, it is Hebrew name used in USA too, means “leg” in Russian, though with a stress on the last vowel.
- Saira- in Russian this word is used only as a fish name.
- Jopie (sounds very close to Russian rude word for “rare end, butt”- zhopa)
- Manda (a very vulgar meaning of vagina and though pronounced slightly different, but the spelling is the same), so if your name is Manda, sound it as Mandi or Amanda if you visit Russia.
- Suka (actually means female dog with puppies, but used in spoken Russian as a very rude word meaning “bitch”)
English boys names that sound funny or bad in other languages
- Luke- in Russian it means "hatch, manhole"
- Rex -this beautiful name is used as a popular dog’s name in Russia
- Cal, Kal - in Russian this word means "excrements"
- Barak- in Hebrew it means "lightening" which is great, but in Russian it means "shabby shack, a temporary shack-like building".
- Matt - it means "dead" in Hebrew.
- Zain- this is a letter of Hebrew alphabet, and also a word which means "weapon". But in Israel this word is used in vulgar meaning of penis (equivalent to American "dick")
Russian names that sound funny or bad in English
- Igor -this is a boy's name very popular in Russia, but it just does not sound nice in English.... because of all those horror characters.
- Semen -another boy's popular name in Russia, but in English speaking countries it will be mocked. So, change it to Simon or the like when you come to USA.
- Sveta - it is an affectionate shortage of a full girl's name Svetlana. I know that this name brings unpleasant associations with a word "sweat".
- Anastassia- another beautiful Russian female name with wrong echo in English (anesthesia)
Alexander and Sasha- the same name.
Some names are unisex names that might be given both to boys and girls. Alexander (for boys)/Alexandra (for girls) is one of them. For a shortage of this name Americans will use Alex and though in Russia this name is also used now under the influence of western cultures, yet the most common shortage of the name Alexander still will be Sasha (less common Shura) for both boys and girls. Many Americans consider these names as absolutely separate names, and even more; they think that Sasha is a purely female name. I know a family where a boy has a name Alexander (Alex) and a girl was named Sasha. In any case this is an absolutely beautiful and perfect international name. A person with this name will be comfortable in any country.
Nikita- It is NOT a unisex name in Russia, it is used only as a boy’s name. So, a girl whose name is Nikita is going to get a lot of joking if she comes to Russia.
Many names that are common in America have side meanings in other countries. Just several examples that I know:
- Fanny - means "vagina" in England
- Patsy- means "homosexual" in Australia
- Randy- means "horny" in Australia
My list is very short, so if anyone has more information, you are welcome to share it with us.
Additions to the list. Courtesy of my readers.
- My fellow hubber and a former co-citizen irinaalek7 mentioned her name (Irina, short version Ira) - "My name is Irina, usually my relatives and friends call me Ira for short in Russia but in the USA -Ira is the man's name but it sounds differently."