Thursday, April 19, 2012

¿Cómo te llamas?

In North America:
--What's your name?

In Nicaragua:
--¿Cómo te llamas?
--María Celeste Talavera Hernandez (invented name)

One thing that makes me laugh here is whenever you ask somebody their name, they give you their entire name. And by entire name, I mean first first name, second first name, first last name, and second last name. Actually, I think it's really cool. The people here are very proud of their names, and so when they're going to tell you their name, it has to be all four names!

Why do they have four names, you might ask? Well, the first two is just tradition that pretty much every child is given two first names, and the family decides how the child will be called on a regular basis. Some kids are called only by their first first name, some by their second first name, and some by both names. Usually it´s whichever name is easier to pronounce, or if there are multiple people with the same name in one family, sometimes the child is called by the second name. Or, if the child is in trouble, they´re called by all four names. I´m sure we can all relate to that, no?

The two last names tradition is actually something that I really love and wish existed in the US too, because it gives importance to both the mother´s and father´s families. The first last name comes from the father, and the second last name comes from the mother. This means that the mother has different last names from the father, and the kids are different from the parents since you maintain your last names from birth. It is a bit confusing at first, but once you get used to it, it makes complete sense, and to me gives equal value to both families.

For example, if the mother´s name is Ana Cecilia Mendoza Lanuza and the father´s name is Marcos Nicolas Gamez Reyes, and they have a child, the child´s name would be Marileysi Liseth Gamez Mendoza - two first names, then the father´s first last name then the mother´s first last name.

I have officially become Nicaraguan by adopting more names, so I fit right in! Since my mom was visiting last week, she got to witness me being called by all of my names, and it was quite amusing! She was a bit confused at first, but grew to like it (right mom?). So, during my first month here, we decided that I needed another first name for a couple of reasons. First, they told me it was too difficult to pronounce "Ashley". Second, my friend Martha´s niece is named Alisson, and they kept mixing up our names. Third, to be Nicaraguan, I obviously needed another first name. So, to make it easier for them to pronounce my name, and to prevent confusion between me and the niece, I decided on the name Sofía. Plus, since I have unofficially become a member of Martha´s family, I added their last names on to the end of my name.

So, combining my official name (first, middle, and last) plus Sofía and the last names from Martha´s family, I am now Ashley Sofía Crocker Sullivan Moncada Rojas. It has a nice ring to it, no? On a regular basis, I am called any of the following: Ashley,  Sofía,  Ashley Sofía, or Sullivan (pronounced Sue-lee-von).


  1. Cool! Ah, I am still so envious! You are doing exactly what I want to be doing, but I'm not sure how to go about it. How did you get started in all this? It's totally my dream to be immersed in a Hispanic culture and speaking Spanish 24/7!

  2. I like this idea. As a matter of fact, the middle names of our children are Ryan Gavigan (my maiden name), Ashley Crocker (my mother-in-law's maiden name) and Michala Perry (my mom's maiden name). Since I changed my middle name to Gavigan I guess my Nicaraguan name would be Patricia Gavigan Gavigan Perry. (I think).

  3. Our family naming convention is that I kept my name, Phillips, after marrying. Our daughters have my last name. Our sons if we had any would have my husband's last name.

    It's a convention that might work in North America as the father isn't giving up anything, unless he thinks his daughters will keep their last name after marrying.

    My daughters constantly talk about changing there names both first and last. It will be interesting if either of them will take their father's last name.