Wednesday, July 15, 2009

A rose by any other name…

When I was studying abroad in Chile I realized that my name ‘Lyndsay’ was very difficult to pronounce, especially for the older people. Young people knew how to say it only if they were familiar with Lindsay Lohan. Because of this, I started going by ‘Lyn,’ which they had no trouble with. The Chileans put the articles ‘el’ or la’ before names so I became ‘La Lyn’, which has a really nice ring to it.

I assumed Paraguayans would have the same difficulties with my legal name, so I shortened it right from the beginning. However I’ve come to realize Paraguayans pronounce the ‘n’ at the end of any word like an‘m.’ So they pronounce my name like ‘Lim’ (like a tree limb).

This also means one volunteer, Ron, is called ‘Rom’ which means rum; another volunteer named ‘King’ is called ‘Kim.’

While we’re talking on the topic of names, there is a volunteer named Shavonda in my G. Her name in Guarani is one vowel sound away from meaning ‘I’m a prostitute/loose woman’ = Che Vanda. ‘Che’ means ‘I.’ It also means that whenever I say her name, I’m also calling myself a loose woman. Our discovery of this little fun fact and the overall difficulty that Paraguayans have with her name has considered trying to rename her. Nothing has stuck yet, but a random man in a community she visited suggested ‘Juanita’ and an inside joke has also produced the name ‘Wonderful.’

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