International Names: Frequently Asked Questions

I realize that the International names lists aren't perfect. However, before you hit the "send" button on your e-mail program, please see if your question can be answered here.

Why Isn't My Name on your List?

Not every name can be translated into other languages. I have chosen the most common names in the English that can be found in other languages. These are commonly found in other languages because they are names of religious, historical, or other figures who have managed to transcend the language barrier at one time or another, or names brought to native populations by conquerors. This doesn't mean that your name is not translatable into another language. It just means that I probably haven't found it, or that I haven't found enough foreign translations to include it on this site. Take for example, the Welsh name Gwenhwyfar. In English, it's Guenivere, but it became most popular in its Cornish form, Jennifer. However, aside from one form I found on an either Latvian, Lithuanian or Estonian baby name site (of course I forgot to bookmark it and now I can't find it), this name isn't found in any other languages.

Where are the names in Japanese/Ukrainian/Urdu/Malay/insert language here?

I am severely limited in my language skills--All the baby name books I happen to need to fill out columns for other languages are written in their native languages. Since I can't read most of these languages, I can't tell what the books are saying! If you are looking for names in a Non-European language, you're out of luck--most of the names on this chart are Latin, Greek, or Hebrew in origin, and therefore have not been adopted into non-European languages. This is not to say that ALL of the names are un-translatable, but most of them probably do not translate. I am always working to update this site, though. Next on the horizon are Ukrainian names and possibly Serbian, Slovak and/or Slovenian names. I have no idea when or if I will ever get these done, so keep checking back!

Where did you find all of these names?

I got many of them from many web sites chronicled at Behind The Name. I found other names in books in this bibliography. Please note, many of the names I found were on sites in their native languages. Since I don't speak many other languages (I can get by in Spanish, French and German, but that's all), I picked out names that I thought were translations. For example, if you see the name Jozef, you can be pretty sure that it's a form of the name Joseph. However, I found the name Alix on a Breton site. Is this a form of Alexandra? Alice? A totally unrelated native Breton name? I'm not sure. Names I'm not sure about I put question marks next to.

Why Aren't All of the Names Listed in All of the Languages?

Some names were never translated into other languages. Take for example, Joachim. Joachim isn't really used in English; we tend to pronounce it the Spanish way (hwah KEEN), but it has a form in just about every other European language. Also, I'm limited in my resources. Just because I don't know the Romanian form of Timothy doesn't mean it doesn't exist. I just don't have very good books. Sorry!

How Do You Pronounce These Names?

If you really want to know, I suggest you find a native speaker of the language and ask him or her. Keep in mind that even though most of these languages use the Latin alphabet, these are not English. The pronunciations are probably very different from what you see. For example, the Scottish Gaelic form of Eve is Eubha. In English, this name looks like it should be pronounced "Yuba". However, it is actually pronounced "EH-va." There are lots of resources on the Internet for helping you with pronunciation of various languages.

What about languages that don't use the Latin Alphabet?

Russian, Greek, Armenian, Arabic, Bulgarian and Hebrew do not use the Latin alphabet (like English and other European languages). Since this site is in English, I've elected to spell the names out phonetically in English. There generally are no standard spellings for these names, so, for example, the Russian name Sergei might also be found as Serge, Sergey etc. depending on who's doing the writing.

What's up with the starred names?

The starred names represent native Irish and Scottish Gaelic (and a couple of Dutch and Yiddish) names that were "translated" as English names by English speakers. This occurred, in the case of Irish and Scottish, when the native speaking populations were ruled by English speakers. Because the English speakers couldn't understand, pronounce, and spell the native names correctly, they assigned English names to the native names based mainly on sound. Thus the Irish and Scottish name Domhnall isn't actually etymologically related to the Hebrew name Daniel, but it was "translated" as so. Because of this cultural connections, the names have been connected and equated for a couple hundred years now. In the case of the Dutch names, people changed them to similar sounding English names upon immigration to the USA. The Yiddish names are a whole other kettle of fish. See the explanation on the Yiddish page.

What's the deal with the Hebrew and Arabic names?

I got most of the Hebrew translations from a book entitled The New Name Dictionary by Alfred Kolatch. It was written as a guide to equate Hebrew names with non-Hebrew names and vice-versa. The author took the meanings of the foreign names and then found a Hebrew name with a similar meaning to use as its equivalent. This method works well in a lot of instances. The major flaw is that the meanings of the non-Hebrew names are not very accurate to begin with, being that the author is a scholar of Hebrew, not names in general. Because of this, the Hebrew names don't always reflect the "real" meaning of the non-Hebrew names. However, if you're not a stickler for accuracy, these equivalents are great!

Not many non-Arabic names have been translated into Arabic, so for the Arabic names, I looked at the meanings of names in various Arabic name books and websites. I matched up the names based on meaning. For example, the names 'Afaf, Kulus, and Qudsiyah all mean "star" in Arabic. In English, the name Esther also means "star." Thus, I used them as "translations."

What are "Traditional Pet Forms"?

a "pet form" of a name is a shortening, like calling Edward Eddie or Ed. We call them "nicknames" now, usually. however, the term "nickname" originally meant a distinguishing name, like Shorty, Red, or Slim. I use the term "traditional" because I'm listing the pet forms that are the most common, and have been used the most. I know if I just put "nicknames" then someone will email me saying "I know a girl named Elizabeth, and people call her Zabeth" or something like that. I'm not including pet forms that may only be used by a few people in the interest of space. For more on pet names, visit this page.

Can I Submit Names?

Sure! I always welcome additions and corrections. However, due to the volume of e-mail I get, please only write to me if you are *positive* you are correct (i.e., if you are a native speaker of a language). Feel free to correct me or add names! I am especially looking for Romanian, Dutch, Greek and Czech names (as well as any other languages I don't list here). Please do not send me nasty e-mails yelling at me for leaving your name out, though. I get enough of those! click here to submit names.

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