a wandering woman writes

Friday, July 29, 2005

By any other name...

What is it about the Spanish and non-Spanish names?

I often lament that Europeans, well, the Spanish at least, don't view foreigners as exotic, glamorous, THE people to invite to the party:

You know, the way we do in the States where the new kid is always the cool kid and every foreigner's an instant celebrity.....Imported! Worldly!!

OK, so I'm not instantly interesting. OK. But really, what is it with a foreign name? My "fine Irish name", as it is usually greeted in Chicago? I made a doctor's appointment yesterday. And the conversation went like this:

-Your name?

-First name Erin...e-r-i-n...Erin....Last name...

-Wait! wait! wait!...what is it?? Elena?


-What is it? What is it???WHAT??? It's Irene?? no? Ay reee.. What is it?


-Never mind, never mind.
The last name?

-is Corcoran..cor-cor-an..c..

-Ayy!! Mother of God. (A direct quote.) Say your first name again?

-Ay-reen. Erin.

-Ok, I'm writing Ay Reen. Just say that when you come. And bring me something I can copy it from.


I probably should have given her my middle name: Patricia. See how nice and phonetic that is? Spanish bureaucrats love it. See it, grab it, latch on to it: THIS name I know!! Señora Patricia!! Señora Patricia!!

Which explains why every official visit -- to a clinic, to the bank, to the Ministry of Whatever to do What Needs to Be Done with my residency card that day -- every official visit finds me leaping into the air, scared out of my wits as a firm, authoritative voice bellows:


Words I formerly heard only from one woman, you guessed it, when I was very, very young......and, usually, caught red-handed. At something I shouldn't have been caught red-handed at.


Postscript 2. Yeh, I guess it's not an anonymous blog anymore.



  • hey! I'm spanish and I had the same problem when I lived for a while in the UK, no problem with my first name (Ana) but when I tried to make me understand telling my second name (Belén)whas really difficult! Finally, I lost my second name. Nothing to say about my surnames (yes, we have two surnames, they never understood that and I lost my first surname).
    Nice blog, I will try to read you!

    By Anonymous Ana Belén, at 8:44 PM  

  • sorry for my really bad english!

    By Anonymous ana belén, at 8:45 PM  

  • Hey Ana,

    Don't worry about the English - Have you read some of my Spanish??? I hate to say I'm glad I'm not the only one who had this problem..but I'm really glad I'm not the only one.....

    Sometimes I think about how similar the US, Canada and Europe really are.............yet these subtle difference feel huge, and we all say we experienced them......I can't imagine what it's like to transplant yourself to a non-Western culture that really is completely different...

    I hope you will come back and read me! And comment!

    By Blogger wandering-woman, at 9:46 PM  

Post a Comment

<< Home