Monday, January 23, 2012

Say my name, say my name

What's in a name? A rose by any other name would smell as sweet - right? But then, when remembering who you are, you need to know where you come from, or so said Mufasa. And both of those require your name. So your name is you. And changing your name changes you. Right? If a rose were called "violet" it would not be a rose. Yes?

I don't know. I'm not even sure what side I'm arguing for. Or against.

All I know is that right now I am faced with making the decision of what the heck to do with my name.

My name is really long (last name, that is), because in Colombian culture people use both their father's as well as their mother's last name. It used to be that when women married, their name would be legally changed: They would lose their mother's name, keep their father's, and become "of" the husband.

For example: my aunt was born Graciela Murillo Salazar. But when she married (a half a century ago) she legally became Graciela Murillo de Araújo. And that was ok, because that was the law, and that was what everyone did. There was no discussion.

But then feminism came along. Feminism came along and ruined everything because it gave us CHOICES. Now we can CHOOSE. Oh, shoot! Now we have to THINK in order to make CHOICES. OMG!

Ok, I'm being sarcastic. I am very pleased that feminism made it OK for me to further my education and to have a job other than secretary/mistress.

I like what post-feminism women did, like my mom. For all legal intents and purposes, she IS and remains Irene Chegwin Vergara (daughter of Alfonso Chegwin and Alycia Vergara). But for social situations, like dealing with schooling issues for her children or when introduced to my father's friends and acquaintances, she was Irene de Delgado Chegwin. That was all nice and cool and wonderful. She kept her "identity" (assuming that your identity is solely dependent on your name) and was still able to be someone's other half, at least socially.

The Americans and Germans (perhaps many others too, but I only know of these two for a fact) have come up with the wonderful idea of hyphenation, where both parties change their name legally. I don't actually know any couple in which the man has also changed his name to include the hyphenated addition of his wife's name, but I do know of a couple here in Germany in which the guy legally changed HIS name to take his wife's name. Cool! (That might have to do with the fact that her last name is really sophisticated: Proietto-Plaza.)

In many instances, the girls will just add their husband's name to their own: Woodell-Aller, Hardy-Perron, McGowen-Hudson, Bresch-Stills.

That's very nice.

But look at my situation.

My name is Delgado Chegwin. Not hyphenated. Two words. So not only is it foreign and hard to pronounce for the Germans, it is also very long. And now I'm getting married. (OMG I'M GETTING MARRIED!! Check out our wedding website!) And I have to decide what my new legal name will be. Because I will be someone's wife. OMG. I'm going to be a wife! So, do I remain Natalya Delgado Chegwin?

But that is oh-so-long! It would be easier to take Honey's name. Natalya Hergett.

Because for me there is no middle ground in Germany: I can't be Natalya Delgado Hergett (with or without hyphen) because my legal last name is Delgado Chegwin - not Delgado alone, not Chegwin alone.

So it's either ME, or NEW ME.

I have six months to think about this.

In the meantime, I have Destiny's Child's old song, Say my name, stuck to my head.

1 comment:

  1. Well actually, if you will change your name through German law, you can't be natalya Delgado Hergett, just because for the Germans your actual last name is Delgado Chegwin, meaning they think that is just one word, and as the lady explained to me at the Standesamt "according to Colombian law the name of your husband comes after your given last name preceded by a 'de'" but because Colombian law does not specify that your mother's last name should be taken away and be replaced by this one, then they assume that your given last name is the combination of both, making you Natalya Delgado Chegwin - Hergett (or 'de' instead of '-'). Do you get now why I never changed my name? ;-)