I'm planning a post/article about names — the various dynamics of how we call ourselves, what others call us, and what we call others. (See the second part of my pinned introduction thread for a bit of context)
If that's something you've thought about, have some ideas or a story that you'd like to share, I would like to hear all of it! Replying publicly or by DM is both ok.
@gosha An aspect I find fascinating in foreign languages is how the ways of saying “my name is” differ:
In English, a name is something you have (that has been given to you).
Spanish has “me llamo” which I read as “I call myself”. So there's a reflexive component, a name being something you give to yourself.
See also the French je m'appelle.
Russian uses “меня зовут”, “They call me”, a name is given to you by some abstract 3rd person plural other. Maybe you can correct me on that?
So we got at least two different axes: what the thing presented is (name, label, secret other thing) and how it was assigned (given at some past point, given by oneself, given by some group of others).
It's really fascinating! I grew up in France, so "I call myself" is as natural for me as "they call me" — I wonder how this has affected my thinking process about my own name.
Maybe I'm overthinking this, and only you can figure out if it makes any sense at all.
As I understand it, you're moving from the name you were assigned at birth to its diminutive that you prefer to use.
From the perspective of the Russian “they call me”, in the assigned name “they” would be some abstract entity (the state, people in general, the big Other).
With the diminutive “they” become friends and family.
In this, you also move from “they call me” to “I call myself.”
@l3kn The German one really does feel like it's an invisible property you have, nobody's fault in particular, like a part of the body you are born with. Now that I think about it, it really removes agency. It's not about what I call myself, or my parents all me, or anybody else, but more like a true name. A name that can never be changed. 😖
@l3kn Well, the "strong" SW has thankfully been completely disproven - it is absolutely possible to think thoughts even if there are not the words in your language. There are also people who do not, as a rule, think in words at all.
@cpalmieri Actually, why not! Though the idea of finding enough free time to record a whole podcast episode seems a bit funny while in Tired Dad mode 😅
@cpalmieri Wouldn't say it's terrible, just need to figure out logistics :) Still want to hear the Things you have to say.
@gosha ok ok. A few years ago I switched how I refer to myself in Japanese to “私” in all settings, because the other options men have make me feel like I’m trying to signal something about my masculinity. 私 seems the most gender neutral and works when you need to be polite.
@gosha I also make an effort to append さん by default towards people younger than me (even small kids!) in mixed crowd or professional settings where their status is easily diminished by language.
@gosha I’ve become gradually more sensitive to this stuff, sometimes after making mistakes in which I offended someone or embarrassed myself. Also as a result of observing subtle patterns in the workplace that seem to disadvantage junior colleagues and women. Defaulting to consistently respectful, neutral addressing language feels like the right amount of brain cells I want to dedicate to it right now.
@gosha In English, I’m trying to use gender-neutral pronouns when a binary gender of the subject is not obvious from context. This comes up a lot when reading storybooks to my kid, espy when she asks me to translate from Ja to En. (Gender pronouns come up a lot less in Japanese storybooks)
@gosha There is also a whole rabbit hole topic about how interfaces to systems (like web forms) cause harm when they limit how individuals register their name and how they match names across records or systems. This has cost me dozens of not hundreds of hours over years living in Japan. I don’t have the foggiest idea how to solve it.
@gosha Examples include being rejected from a KYC application for a payment service (“we don’t accept long names yet”) and when applying for her JP passport being asked to justify in writing my kid’s name spelling in Latin alphabet because it doesn’t follow Hepburn.
@cpalmieri Thank you for sharing, that's super interesting! What you mention about first person pronoun signalling and language use uplifting/diminishing people is especially relevant to the topic I'm exploring — I might ask you some more stuff about that down the road if that's ok?
@cpalmieri and... IDs and romanization is a special kind of hell-hole. Russia for example has changed its romanization rules at some point, so I went from being Gueorgui in my RU passport to being Georgii overnight, which caused a mismatch with my French ID, and so on 🤷
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