Tag Archives: name

Should a New York Couple Follow the Husband’s Greek Tradition?

15 Apr

The other day a friend of mine posted an article on Facebook about how his friend, a New Yorker of Greek descent, has taken to the internet because his wife doesn’t doesn’t want their unborn baby to be named Spyridon. Here’s how the headline read for the Daily Mail article:

Couple launches online campaign to decide if their unborn baby should be called Michael or Spyridon – after failing to reach an agreement despite months of arguments

A couple basic facts:

  • The husband’s name is Nicholas. A common name. An easy to pronounce name.
  • The name Spyridon is Nicholas’ father’s name. In Greek culture, it’s common to name your first child after the husband’s side of the family. Though a familiar Greek name, Spyridon is not common even in the diverse city of New York … well, unless you go by its diminutive, Spyro. Nor is it obvious to nonGreeks how it should be pronounced.
  • The wife’s name is Kseniya, a name I’ve never heard of until reading this article. A name I’m not quite sure how to pronounce. Kseniya thinks the name Spyridon is too “archaic.” If it’s a boy, she wants to name it after her own father, Michael.

Some have posited that the husband has “the right” to name “his” son after his father. Here are a few questions to consider:

  • Should the New York couple follow Greek tradition?
  • Would it make a difference if they lived in Greece?
  • Why should the couple follow the husband’s tradition over the wife’s desires?
  • Does it matter that the child in question is a son*? Should a father’s opinion matter more for the name of a son?
  • What makes the child “his” son and not “their” son?
  • If the child is a daughter, would this be as big of an issue? Would you still say the child should be named after the father’s side of the family or if it’s a daughter would you side more with the mother?
  • Does Kseniya perhaps know better than her husband the frustration of growing up with a a difficult-to-pronounce first name?

*Here’s the kicker: they don’t even know yet if the baby is a boy or girl!

So yeahhhh this type of marital spat is kind of how I ended up with my name. In Greek culture it’s tradition to name the first child after the father’s parents so my father just assumed I would be named after his mother. My mother (a Midwesterner who is not Greek) didn’t want me to have two “weird” names. The result? The night I was born my father ended up storming out of the hospital when the nurse came around to ask for my name and my mother refused to name me after my father’s mother. While he was out in the midst of a New York City snowstorm, my mother named me. For the record, my mother compromised by naming me after my dad’s stepfather instead of his mother and gave me his mother’s name for my middle name.

As Shakespeare would say, “What’s in a name?”

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Jack Kerouac’s First Novel Translated in Persian, and It’s Not “On the Road”

3 Feb

dharma

More than fifty years after he rose to literary stardom in America, a novel by Jack Kerouac is being published in Persian for the first time, according to Iran Book News Agency.

Rozaneh Publications hired Farid Qadami to translate Kerouac’s The Dharma Bums.

Apparently you can get Farsi subtitles to the film adaptation of On the Road but the novel hasn’t been translated into Persian yet.

Although this may be the first time a novel by Kerouac is being translated into Farsi, the Iran Book News Agency reported in 2010 that Kerouac’s poetry volume Book of Haikus was translated into Persian by poet Alireza Abiz, a story that David S. Wills covered for Beatdom.

In his now famous interview with Ted Berrigan published by The Paris Review, Kerouac claimed to have Persian origins:

And it’s a Cornish name, which in itself means cairnish. And according to Sherlock Holmes, it’s all Persian. Of course you know he’s not Persian. Don’t you remember in Sherlock Holmes when he went down with Dr. Watson and solved the case down in old Cornwall and he solved the case and then he said, “Watson, the needle! Watson, the needle . . .” He said, “I’ve solved this case here in Cornwall. Now I have the liberty to sit around here and decide and read books, which will prove to me . . . why the Cornish people, otherwise known as the Kernuaks, or Kerouacs, are of Persian origin.”

Here is a story about Houman Harouni translating Allen Ginsberg’s “Howl” into Farsi, which I found via the Allen Ginsberg Project.

 

Clip: Letter to the Editor Published in Orion

13 Sep

I left a comment on an article on Orion‘s website a while back and one of the editors contacted me to see if they could reprint it in the print edition of their magazine.  Of course I said yes!  I love the articles in Orion.  My comment is now in the letters to the editor section of the September/October 2012 issue on newsstands now.  I’m credited as “Stephanie Niko” because I oftentimes abbreviate my name when I leave comments on blogs.

You Know You’re Greek When… Your Name Is Too Long for Twitter

9 Sep

Image via Tweetpi

 

You know you’re Greek when your name is too long for Twitter.

I’m several years late to the game, but I finally signed up for Twitter.  I’ve been Tweeting for other companies for a while, so I figured it was about time I bit the bullet and created my own personal account, as in “These Tweets are my own opinions and do not represent anyone but myself.”   I mean, I was already on Google+ for crying out loud.  Why not join Twitter too?

Okay, but here’s the rub: my multisyllabic Greek last name is too long for Twitter!  And I don’t just mean too long for the Twitter handle; I mean too long for my profile name.

That means, you can now follow me as @StephanieNiko on Twitter.

It’s probably better in the long run.  I bet you can’t spell my last name correctly anyway.

Writing Wednesday: Memoirist Patricia Volonakis Davis on How Cultural Identity Changes after Marriage and Moving

13 Jul

Happily ever after wasn’t the case when first-generation Italian Patricia V.–as in Volonakis–Davis married a Greek national.  The author calls her book Harlot Sauce: A Memoir of Food, Family, Love, Loss, and Greece “a tragedy written as a black comedy,” in her interview with Jane Friedman for the article “How to Find a Direct Line to Your Readers” in Writer’s Digest.

In the interview, Davis alludes that her sense of self shifted when she experienced another culture:

…Harlot’s Sauce was about how being raised first generation Italian-American affected my worldview and attitude about myself, then how these both changed as a result of my marrying a Greek national and moving to Greece with him, in an attempt to save our failing marriage.

As a memoirist writing about identity and culture, I’ve often reflected on how being raised Greek American affected my worldview.  For me, though, it wasn’t just about being Greek–it was about being Other.  Or rather, being Something.  I wasn’t just plain Jane American.  My family did not come over on the Mayflower.  I was more than American.  I was Greek American.

However, I did not fully understand this until I moved to California.  I grew up in a pretty diverse town in New Jersey.  Most people were “ethnic.”  When I moved to California, I was suddenly surrounded by blonde-haired, blue-eyed, white Americans.  They weren’t white like I was white, though.  They were American.  Their family had been here for generations.  It was in moving that I came to a better understanding of who I am as a Greek American and who I am as someone who grew up in Northeast America.

I’ve never lived abroad, like Patricia Volonakis Davis did, but I did wander around Europe for about three months one summer, and I gained further understanding of my identity through these travels.  People were quick to make assumptions about my American-ness.  People didn’t really care that I was of Greek descent.  Being raised in America trumped ethnicity in terms of my identity.

It seems to me that identity is fluid.  Depending on where we are and who we’re “comparing” ourselves with, our identity can shift.

For women especially, identity changes with marriage.  Most women still take on their husband’s name, and our names signal a lot about who we are.  For instance, I saw the name Volonakis, and I immediately assumed the author of Harlot Sauce was Greek, even though as it turns out she’s Italian American.  And yet in some ways she became more Greek than I simply by virtue of living in Greece.

I wonder how many women become culturally Other to what they were raised as because of marriage?

Check next week’s Writing Wednesday for more on Patricia Volonakis Davis.