sexta-feira, 7 de setembro de 2012

How US Naming Influences The World

I've been thinking about this issue for quite a while now, and I've decide to share with you my thoughts. We all know how the US adopts names from all over the world, and sometimes it doesn't respect the names' origins by not using a certain name on the appropriate gender. We all know how that works, right? The so called "unisex" names have been migrating from boys to girls for over a century now, at the very least. But how do these naming trends influence the rest of the world you say? Well the most obvious answer is because the US is definitely the most influential country of the world, at least the western world, from its celeb culture, from movie stars and singers, to TV shows, to products, to pretty much everything.

For example, we all know that Kelly originated as a male name, but its usage as female name in the US has influenced not only americans, but pretty much everyone else around the world, to perceive it as a female name, regardless of Kelly Slater. For decades TV shows have plugged Kelly as a female name, shows that are broadcast all over the world, so it was bound to influence. Here in Portugal, while we don't normally adopt names from other countries (most aren't allowed or are frowned upon), we can tell if a foreign name is male or female through american shows and celebrities. Ask anyone in Portugal if they think Kelly is a male or female name, and they'll respond "female". The funny thing is, the portuguese translation of the name, Quéli, is allowed, and only on males, although its pretty much never used. Maybe it's because it's seen as a girl name. As a matter of fact, several foreign names have been translated into portuguese and restricted to the gender of its original country, like Aubri (Aubrey) and Nicola remaining masculine. However recently there has been an incentive to loosen the restricitions on baby naming, and the name Kelly, written exactly like that, has been allowed. And you know on what gender? That's right, female. Kelly is pretty much assumed to be female in the majority of the world actually, and it's all on us. 

Obviously if a name has a strong usage on the male gender in a particular country, it's not gonna be the american celeb/tv culture that will change that. For example, Ariel  or Alexis are most definitely still seen as a male names in latin america and most of Europe, despite their strong usage as female names in the US. Nikita is still seen as a masculine name in Eastern Europe despite the shows. And I'm sure that even if Emerson goes completely girl in the US, it'll remain a masculine name in Brazil where it's used considerably. But these are exceptions rather than the norm. Names like Tracy, Leslie, Ashley, Lindsey, Hilary, etc, that have little or no usage outside anglo countries, are all perceived as feminine because of the US. It'll probably be the case for Avery or Madison in a few years, along with many others.

I wonder how the irish or scottish feel about many of their names going to the wrong gender in the US? What do the dutch think when they hear Skyler (Schuyler) on a girl? How do all the male Ashley's and Mackenzie's in the UK react when their names are perceived as feminine across the pond? Not that the UK isn't guilty of doing gender swapping, but it's a lot less evident than in the US, where pretty much any name ending in -y has a shot at going pink - not that those are the only type of names to swap genders (think Shannon, Taylor, Lynn or Jamie). Heck, I wonder how the portuguese would feel if a popular male name over here, such as Tomé, became heavily used on girls in the US - and then many american shows with female characters named Tomé, or female singers named Tomé, getting broadcast on TV or played on the radio over here... not good I think.

Anyway, this is just something that has been on my mind for a while, and I hope you found this subject as interesting as I have. What is your view on this issue?

Sem comentários:

Enviar um comentário