Tuesday, February 14, 2017

Wait, What Is Your Name? NO, not that Name

It is no secret now that I was born in Mexico, but what might not know, is that for the first 15 years of my life, I was not known as Ana, but as Luisa.

Back in 1982, my mother first picked my middle name, based on the Saint of the date of my birth, Saint Louis (San Luis). The first name was up for debate for about a week, she went back and forth between Maria, Fernanda and Artemisa, the last one rhymed weirdly with my middle name, so it was immediately tossed. She settled in Ana, and never used it again until 1997.

In Mexico, we don't put a lot of value on the first name, hence a lot of girls are named Maria, and a lot of boys are named Jose. The name we give priority to, is our middle name. When asked, we answer our middle name, and only dig out the first name for official documents.

Anybody who knows me in Mexico, knows me a Luisa. Close family here call me Lui.



So, when I first moved here, my first day at school, all my teachers would ask me "What is your name?" and on my basic, and very broken English, I would say "My name is Ana Luisa Soto" they would stare at me and asked me again, then finally another classmate came and told me, "not that name... the other one, you know your first name".

Later that day, that same classmate and I had ESL together, and she told me "Your sister is going to be there!" I was so excited, the first day of school was scary, I didn't know anybody, and the possibility of seeing my other siblings was very exciting. Then she said "you know, your Sister Maria!" and I still remember my response to her... "No, you are wrong I don't have any sister whose name is Maria". Only to remember that Yes, I did.

All of my siblings are the same, when we speak English, we call each other by our first name. And that took us about 10 years to get used to. In Spanish, we call each other by our middle name. Except for my brothers, who don't have a middle name, but we call them by their nicknames, which are shorten versions of their names.

I always tell people that I have 3 sister and 2 brother, but when I speak of them, I call them both of their names. So a question that is often asked of me is "I thought you have 3 sisters, and I have hear you mention at least 8 names, who is Vicky? Who is Bety?"

Even my son had this confusion when he was 3. He knows his favorite aunt as Tia Bety, and the first time his father called her Maria, he immediately asked, then corrected "Who is Maria? That's not her name Dad, her name is Tia Bety!"

Do you have a middle name?
Does anybody use your middle name ?
Do you have a family nickname?

12 comments:

  1. Ohhhh! This makes sense! I'm so glad you taught us this! My middle name is Heather. I'm named after my dad's twin sister. Nobody ever calls me Heather though. My real name is Susan and nobody ever calls me that either. I've been Suzy since maybe I was around 3 years old. A few people call me Sue, which I don't like, but they're allowed to because they're close to me. Names are funny things, eh?

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    1. I love that now I know your middle name!! I bet you wouldn't answer to Heather somebody shouted it in a random place!

      Names are very funny things!

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  2. Interesting! That had to have been hard for you guys to get used to when you moved here. For us, our middle name is my dad's first name so my brother and I both have the same middle name. And it's never used.

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    1. oh wow! that's interesting ! Thank you for sharing that info!

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  3. How interesting! I love reading posts like this. As an ESL teacher, i'd love to hear more about your school experiences.

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    1. I didn't know you taught ESL!

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    2. Thank you Meranda! I'll do a post on My ESL teachers for you in the future. In the school where I went to, they were our advocates and biggest supporters, and they were very much loved by the families.

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  4. I love learning new things from you, Ana! A lot of my students from Mexico give me their full name. Normally when I ask kids their name, they will just say their first name. But if I have a new student from Mexico (we have quite a few, lots of family members of students already at our school) they will give me their full name.

    My middle name is Hillary, but no one ever calls me by my middle name. Most people call me by my full name, the only people that call me Meg are my MIL and blog friends because my blog title. But actually in real life, no one calls me Meg!

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    1. Giving our full name is what we were taught in school, even though we didn't use the first name in conversations.

      That is a very cool middle name!!

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  5. My middle name is Joyce, and I always hated it. It's my mom's name. There was a tradition in her family that the first born girl got her mom's name as her middle name. So my mom is Joyce Shirley, and her mom was Shirley Harriet. See how messed up that is?

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    1. Joyce is a beautiful name! and that tradition is beautiful! I don't think you have any daughters, but would have carried the tradition?

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  6. I have noticed this about my Latinx students. I have some white friends who go by their middle names but it's not as common. Do you prefer Luisa or Ana? Is there anyone who calls you both?

    Can you write a post about last names next? I know Latinx last names take both maternal and paternal names but which do you use most, or do you use both?

    My full name is Alison and I go by Ali. I used to go by Alison but when I was little I threw a fit that I wanted to go by my nickname exclusively. Nowadays Ali is a much more popular name that it used to be, so I no longer stand out, but it used to be a kind of unique nickname.

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