Project Manager Bethan Aston relates her experiences living overseas with a Welsh name. You can find out more about Bethan and the rest of our team at http://www.wolfestone.co.uk/bios.php

 

At Wolfestone we speak over 20 global languages between us.  Given this level of cultural diversity, it’s natural that many Wolfestone staff members have had problems with their names from time to time.

This is a question which no one, namely my mother, ever even considered 23 years ago when my parents were deciding what to call their bundle of joy. After all, how is a parent to know where their child will end up living? Many girls names were thrown into the ring, but being Welsh, really only Welsh names were considered. Ffion, Siân, Gwenllian were all potentially viable options. As usual, parental fighting kicked in and the winner was ‘Bethan’, the Welsh form of Elizabeth.

Growing up in Wales, I never faced any problems with my name. Every now and then, it would confuse an English person when it was their first time coming across the name. Beth-Anne was the version that infuriated my mother the most. But this was just the beginning.

Learning another language is always considered advantageous in modern society, as well as being amazingly fun. Hence, I decided to read Spanish at University. This additional skill made me feel confident to go over to the other side of the world and embark upon a few long travels around Central and South America. It was here that I soon realised the error of my mother’s choice of name.

Every day was a struggle – trying to explain a name where the local languages don’t even have the same sounds in their language. Guatemala provided the amusing attempt of “Baftam” on one hostel check in slip. Nicaragua took the easy option with “Elizabet”, whilst Brazil saw “Beffy” being the chosen name of the trip. Name changes were not only confined to South America. A trip to Egypt saw me renamed simply as “B”.

Through working in a successful translation company here in Wales, one would assume that things would revert back to simply being called Bethan. Not the case. Dealing with people worldwide from all cultures and languages, often saw changes to my name. From Beth-ayne, Beetan, Mr Bethan, Betham to Bethany. Not forgetting to mention, the winner of all name changes that has stuck ever since… Brian.

BETHAN ASTON

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  • Amita Sharma

    This is amusing to me as I have been called Anita, Amanda and very worst of all DORITO. Never though a man’s name so now I feel a little better. I have commented on these pages before how the patrician British approach can sometimes be a bad thing, how it can seem patronizing, but this is a nice reminder that British people also must tolerate such misunderstandings. Thank you Bethan 🙂

  • Richard Samuel

    Excellent article Bethan not had myself however have friends with names like Osian, Carwyn etc who have had issues

  • Adele Marinescu

    Hello Bethan if you go to Romania I promise we will never call you Brian. We will call you Elisabeta, which means ‘my God is a vow’. This tells us that the person of this name makes a solemn promise to be true to their word. I hope this is true for your work at Wolfstone!

  • After my first couple of years in France, I grew resigned to the fact that I would be forever “John” for the majority of my acquaintances…

    But spare a though for a friend of mine called Nicola, who was met with repeated bemusement that she had what the French took to be a boy’s name! (spelt “Nicolas”, but pronounced the same as the English “Nicola”)

  • bethan

    ah brian! that common shortening of bethan! the ‘th’ in the middle of ‘bethan’ can be so confusing in countries without that sound. when introducing myself in austria i got some odd looks which i think meant ‘what was that odd noise in the middle of your name? and resulted in a variety of versions including, beth, bett and, my favourite, batman.