I’m super interested in names in other languages. I remember when I was in Lithuania, after a few weeks of meeting people, you could sort of figure out what were ‘plain’ names, the equivalants of John and Mary, especially those with English counterparts (Deividas, Viktorija).
It took a bit longer to understand which names were typical even though they sounded odd to American ears. Our neighbors were Giedre (female) and Evaldas (male), and though we grappled with them at first, they are both pretty common Lithuanian names.
What is really hard, though, is picking out the names that are odd even to native speakers. A friend of my parents had a baby while we were there (and in a whole other story, didn’t realize she was pregnant until she was actually giving birth), and named the baby girl something very long and starting with a G, which I dont remember because, meh babies. But shortly after the birth we began hearing whispers that this was a very strange name, and in fact that all the children in that family had weird names, equal to having kids named Bristol, Track and Trigg. We would have had no idea.
On the other hand, the Lithuanians had a tough time with my Dad and brother’s names. The naming convention in Lithuanian for boys is that masculine names end with -(vowel)s, and then can be conjugated to imply all sorts of different tenses and cases. I won’t delve into the more technical aspects of the grammar. Anyways, my Dad goes by Tony, and my brother Zac. Though pretty normal in English, there are no equivalent names in Lithuanian. And it was difficult to just tack an -s on their names because Anthony/Tony and Zachary end in a long /i/ (eee) sound, which is just unheard of in Lithuanian. Zac eventually turned into Zakas, which worked, but is apparently hilariously un-namelike to a lot of Lithuanians. They tried Antonas with my Dad, but he hated that, and just insisted on being called Tony. Or Professor.
I’m really interested in how this plays out in other languages. The Olympics always sparks this in me, seeing all the names of the athletes. For instance, the (current) leader in the Men’s Trampoline is a Chinese man named Dong Dong. Now, I know that “dong” probably doesn’t have the same giggly implications in Chinese that it does to American ears, and is best I can tell common Chinese family name. But is having it as both a family and given name weird? My gut is “yes!” but I don’t know enough to say. I knew a kid named Geoffrey Jefferies when I was a kid, and that was Really Strange, but perhaps it is not in China?
I wonder if there are resources that dicuss this. Does anyone out there have any insight? This has been my language nerd ramble of the day. You may return to your regularly scheduled tumbling.