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No plain Jane
Don't change that beautiful Iranian name

By Amir Mohammadzadeh
December 10, 1999
The Iranian

If my children were to change their names when they grew up, I have to say that I would be heart broken. I had very special reasons for each name I picked; family, history, and good memories of those who deserve to be remembered. A good traditional name is something to be proud of. A lot of thought, love, pride, and hope goes into this once-in-a-lifetime decision . What does it say about a person if they do not have confidence to defend their own name?

Of course it would be a different matter if your name was a source of ridicule. Everybody would sympathise with Mr T. Pot if he chose to alter his name, but merely to dispose of one's national identity strikes me as as odd thing to do. It doesn't make any sense for Fariba to call herself Lucy in the hope of easier assimilation in the work place when every atom in her body screams "I'M IRANIAN". Is she also going to have plastic surgery. Maybe she should save some money for a good psychiatrist.

When I was at school, and didn't know very much about Iran, I admired my friend's beautiful paisley print scarf . "What is all this paisley nonsense?" she said. "This is an Iranian domkaj design. You people pinched it from us." It is interesting to note just how many every-day objects and ideas have come out of Iran and the East in general only to be plagiarized.

The modern day bath ,would not have come to Europe had the Crusaders not been so impressed with it whilst pillaging their way around the Middle East. They also picked up carpets, silks, spices, fruits, medicine, philosophy, art, polo, chess, garden design and ... anyway nowadays it is quite fashionable to name a daughter Leila or Yasmin and Mariam.

If someone introduced Hezar-O-Yek-Shab (Thousand and One Nights) and Ferdowsi's Shahnameh (Book of Kings) into the Western schools, I could positively guarantee that you would have an army of little girls called Shahrzad .Then of course my old school friend would say, "Vaay! Khejaalat nemikeshid? Now you people are pinching our names as well?!"

How can anyone, having read Ferdowsi, Hafez, and Omar Khayam and not want to keep names such as these alive? Amir, Annahita, Elham, Khosro, Kamran, Farhad, Farzad, Turan, Tooraj , Bijan, Kambiz, Shahla, Shohreh, Parisa, Parvaneh, Faranak, Sadeq, Madineh, Sina, Iran, Shokoofeh, Afsaneh, Shirin, Sepideh, Farzaneh. These are fantastic names so who wants to be a plain Jane?

What shall we call our Nanneh Turan, if she changes her name to Janet. When I go to Iran it makes no difference what name shows in my passport, I would be a fool if I thought changing my name would make me more acceptable . Most people are recognized by their character long before anybody has asked their name.

I'm not saying that no-one has the right to change their name if they are really not happy. But they should have a good, considered reason, not just because some ignorant person won't make the effort to learn to pronounce a new name. I won't go on. I think my opinion is crystal clear. I am a self confessed Iranophile.

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