Choosing an Italian Name

This past weekend, the husband and I went to the baby shower of one of his old co-workers. She’s Japanese, and many of the people who the husband has worked with over the last decade have been from Asia, and that’s been an interesting cultural learning experience for me (who’s never been to Asia). One of the couples at the shower yesterday are some of my favorite people I’ve met through the husband’s job. They’re both Chinese, and have lived here for quite some time. They both have Chinese names, of course, but – like many Chinese people I’ve met – they’ve both adopted English names for use here. I find this name-choosing process fascinating. And bear with me, there’s an Italian connection here, I swear.


This Chinese couple is Brian and Vivian. Now, Vivian chose her name because of its meaning – her Chinese name means quiet and reserved (which she isn’t, really), so she wanted an English name that meant the exact opposite. So, she went with Vivian for its “vivacious” meaning. She fits her name well, in my opinion. Her husband, on the other hand, didn’t go as deep with his English name. His surfing instructor on a trip to Australia was called Brian, and he liked the guy. So, he went with Brian.




The only time I know of when most adults get to put on a different name is when we’re in school and taking a foreign language. For some unknown reason, when I took French in high school I decided to become Brigitte. Really, don’t ask. It was a name listed in the front of the textbook, and just being “Jessica” with a French accent didn’t seem enough to me. But I never felt like a Brigitte, and it wasn’t a name I carried with me outside the French classroom.

So now I’m knee-deep in Italian culture, and although my name is pronounce-able in Italian (vowel at the end and all), it’s not an Italian name. (For starters, there’s no “J” in the Italian alphabet.) So the other day, when we ran into Brian and Vivian again, I got to thinking – would I want to adopt an Italian name? Could I even do it? As a joke, I often change my German last name to its Italian equivalent, but I only do that with my Italian conversation group to get a laugh. In reality, I’m not sure I could change adopt a different name now, but it’s intriguing to think about it nonetheless.

If I were to take an Italian name, I’m not sure what it would be. I love the name Sofia, but I’m not a Sofia. I’ll have to think about this one, what name I would choose. What about you? What would your Italian name be? If you’re looking for some to choose from, start here with the alphabet at the top.

Photo by: Adriano

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