by Poirot

A few days ago going through facebook I came across this article a Chinese friend of mine had posted and it made me think of us ‘Iranian-Americans”:

On Tuesday April 07, 2009 Texas State Rep. Betty Brown said that Asian-Americans should change their names because they’re too hard to pronounce:

“Rather than everyone here having to learn Chinese — I understand it’s a rather difficult language — do you think that it would behoove you and your citizens to adopt a name that we could deal with more readily here?”

Brown later told [Organization of Chinese Americans representative Ramey] Ko: “Can’t you see that this is something that would make it a lot easier for you and the people who are poll workers if you could adopt a name just for identification purposes that’s easier for Americans to deal with?”

Brown has resisted calls to apologize. Her spokesman said that Democrats “want this to just be about race.”(Houston Chronicle)

Now as an Iranian-American my first impression of this was to take offense and get mad (who are you to tell me or anyone else to change their name; a fundamental basis of respect for one’s family and heritage, to make things “easier” for you.) furthermore many of you will agree as I do that her comments were racist and ignorant, however; my name and that of a million other people in Los Angeles is “Fred” which Stands for Farid and could stand for just to name a few: Farshad, farahad,farzan, faramarz, fereydoon, farboad and just about anything else that starts with the letter “F”.

Again using myself as an example; I was born in Iran and immigrated here a little before the millennium, I’ve worked in sales for most of this period and decided in order to seal my name onto peoples memory it would be practical for me to use an American name which unlike my actual name is not changed into what people think my name is (Hi may I speak to FABREAD, or FORIIID) a system which has worked very well for me. I’m also fairly young and involved in the club scene and I can tell you from experience that your odds are drastically changed when you’re trying to let some generic American girl know your name over the sound of Lady Gaga: hi my name is Ghaa-zaan-faar or Siii-aaa-maaa-kkkk.

So then what is it about Rep. Brown’s comment that has bothered me? I have willingly changed my name, everyone around me is aware of my Persian roots (the hair always gives it away) and last night a group of my American friends joined me at a local Persian restaurant to eat “GAYMAN(gheyme)” and “hard-rice”. To make matters more confusing I’m engaged to a non-Iranian and we have started thinking about names for a child and I am dead set on giving my child an Iranian name, perfectly knowing what the end result of that could be. It is then safe to assume that I do not think my cultural identity is dependent upon my name, nor are my family values and heritage.

What has then bothered me about her comments is the implication of free will, I can as many Asian-Americans, Arab-Americans, Indian-Americans etc… change my own name whilst forgetting about my cultural identity and values, but don’t tell me that I have to. In the twentieth century many Irish while under the rule of the British government were forced to adopt English names, which ultimately was a campaign to destroy Irish culture and identity. I am not implying that Brown is attempting a solo campaign to ethnically cleanse the Asian-Americans, but once one group is suppressed for the simple benefit of another then people rebel and takes things more seriously and sometimes too seriously.

Now my question is; have you changed your name and if so why and how do you feel about it?


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Albert to abaass

by Poirot on

Before moving to the states I lived in a European city for a few years and needless to say I struggled with the language for a few years.  After months of research my parents were referred to a non Iranian man by the name of Albert who had fallen in love with the Iranian culture married an Iranian woman and thus became my tutor. This man out of respect for my parents would go by AbÂss which was easier to pronounce than Albert. Then Mehrnaz I’ve never heard of a Jeffrey become a jaafar but close enough. I think in this situation I would take a Millsian approach, meaning I would look at it from the stand point of utility, if you’re in an environment where your name is easily accepted why change it.PS: I ask everyone to pray for the life of Delara Darabi who’s facing execution in the coming days.



To: Asdollahkhan

by Anonymous44 (not verified) on

I am not any of those SUPER you have mentioned. I have a beautiful Iranian name which I would never ever change it for anybody. I love my name thanks to my parents, and I like to be called by my name. At work everyone knows my name and pronounce it right,After 10 times wrong. EVEN some people have told me what a beautiful name, where are you from and what does it mean. I proudly say I am Iranian.
It is just my opinion. USA, thanks to God, is a free country. YOU can do what ever you like.
I would like to know what would be Asdollah. Maybe Esi. :o)


Has a Jeffrey become a Jaafar, ever?!


There is nothing wrong with people wanting a less complicated life and sometimes it makes sense to change name to, for example, get a job ... But let's face it, it is a power relationship and changing name is a form of masking one's identity, it is more than integration, it is appeasement - perhaps at times a necessary one.  I am not passing a judgement, just an observation.  If you think about it, have you ever heard of a Jeffrey who has become Jaafar in Iran?  But I know of a couple of Jaafars who have become Jeffreys!  



by MiNeum71 on

When Iranians start living in a foreign country, it´s a matter of respect to understand the cultural characteristics and to learn the language in the new country. This is called integration.

But changing the name is a bit too much integration.



to: Anonymous44

by Asdollahkhan (not verified) on

Unless you are super talented, super rich, super competant, or super hot, no one is going to bother to try to pronounce your Ghazanfar name ten times.


why change??

by Anonymous44 (not verified) on

why do I have to change my name to make it easier?? Name only one American who changed his/her name when he/she was in our country to make it easier for us.
They will learn. They pronounce it wrong 10 times, but they finally get it.


My name is not Mohammad!

by Anonymous Irani (not verified) on

I have a dual name that starts with Mohammad and anywhere I write my name they call me Mohammad and Mohammad is not my name or at least it is not what they call me.I am so uncomfortable at time because of my first name that when I became citizen I decided to drop my dual first names and use a short American name that combine my 2 first name.I am not sure if I have done the right thing and I am sure I have to go through a lot of trouble to change all my document to my new name,but at least I feel a little more comfortable now with my new and short American name.BTW I have kept my long last name.That is part of me and I would not change that.

Ali P.

Hi! I am Kpethusn Mnomdatiuwn!

by Ali P. on

  "The hell with them...that's their problem", I remember thinking, when I was fresh off the boat!


   Years later, when I had to work and study along other immigrants, with all kinds of weird, long and awkward names, and everyone taking pride in their names and it's pronounciations, I started appreciating the Westernization of ethnic names.

  A difficult name, be it Arabic, Persian, Thai (aren't they the worse?), Korean, or Chinese, are tough to pronounce, to remember and to write, and wastes everyone's time. I am tempted to go as far as saying it is even a little selfish to put the rest of us through the torture of pronouncing your weird name, just to your liking!

   They are going to slaughter your name anyway, if you are named "Khalil" or "Ghodrat" or "Khosrow",so why not just change it and make life easier for all of us?

Ali P.

P.S. IRANdokht jaan, your luck may change in the social arena if you pick yourself a nice easy name( No, not DOKHI)... Something simple,.. but EXOTIC and EXCITING! Let me know if you want any suggestions ;-)


difficult names everywhere

by IRANdokht on

Both my first and last name are difficult for any non-iranians. My last name has 5 syllables and to make matters worse a combination of sequential vowels and consonant combos make it nearly impossible for most people to sound out.

But I only change it when leaving my name with the restaurant hostess! At work everyone has not only learned how to say my name, they even spell it now without my help. Schwarzenegger and Villaraigosa didn't change their last name, why should I?  I am not even running for public office.



Posted on a similar thread......

by Majid on


 دوست من ریموند خان !



دوست من « روح اله خیر الامور قشقایی پور » وقتی رفت سیتیزن بشه تصمیم گرفت اسمشو برای تلفظ  ساده تر کنه و در ضمن از اسم « روح اله » یه خورده فاصله بگیره......
اسم جدیدش ؟ ......« ریموند خیر الامور قشقایی پور »!!!


Red Wine


by Red Wine on

به یزدان که گر ما خرد داشتیم ........کجا این سرانجام بد داشتیم


Last Name is tougher

by hossein.hosseini on

We had the same issue when choosing names for our children. It came down to how you write it. After much research, we ended up with "Kayvon" for my son and "Shireen" for my daughter. We thought they will perhaps use Kevin and Sherry. Guess what? they have no problem in school and others pronounce their names properly. They are both in highschool. Last name is a totally different story as you have to deal with many legal/government docs that rely on last name.

Niki Tehranchi

Shortening the last name

by Niki Tehranchi on

I am toying with the idea of shortening our family name (if hubby agrees of course). I am thinking of this because of my son.  Maybe when he goes to school, a 4 syllable last name will be a bit much.  I thought that by chopping off the very last syllable, it remains a very valid Iranian name as well as easier to pronounce.   Meanwhile, I have never anglicized my name nor has hubby his.  We gave our son a very beautiful Iranian first name (well at least in our opinion!) and so far no one had a hard time pronouncing it.  We searched long and hard because I didn't want him to have a name that sounds one way in Persian and another way in English.  For example, Reza becomes "Reeza", Kamran becomes "Cameron", Nader becomes "Nay-der", and of course the somewhat embarassing transliteration of Khosrow into... well you get it. Of course all this may be futile because in the end, you never know what happens tomorrow.  Maybe we will end up moving to Japan and I will have to change my name to Murasaki, who knows in this crazy world we live in? 


Firouzeh Dumas writes about changing her name to Julie in her book Funny in Farsi and how that eased some issues for her but also created a whole new set of tensions, like having to live a double life where one set of friends know you as Firouzeh and another set as Julie and you dread the moment the two shall meet.  Kind of like a double agent working both sides of the Berlin Wall.  She eventually went back to her Iranian first name altogether.  Anyways, funny stuff and also something to think about.



Not a problem

by hossein.hosseini on

No I have not changed mine, has been difficult at times (Jose instead of Hossein) but overall been trouble free - And now because of Barak HUSSEIN, I am actually in better shape than before. First it was King Hussein of Jordan, then it was Saddam Hussein and Now Barak Hussein Obama.  Have been through all of it.

I actually don't have a problem asking people to correct their pronounciation and most of the times people do not mind.  Just think about it, while we are angered about 'EyeRun', over 70 million people pronounce America as 'AAMREEKA' or 'EMREEKA'.

anonymous fish

please... not to take anything away from your question

by anonymous fish on

but you need to read the article in it's entirety.  it's posted here in another blog.  i also went to the video on youtube to try and get as realistic an interpretation as i possibly could.  the words that you've posted above are taken a little out of context.  there was much more to the story and to the video itself.  it does not excuse her serious lack of diplomacy but it's just not as cut and dried as it sounds. 

now, with regard to your question, as a non-iranian obviously i've not faced this issue.  i do remember when my husband was expanding his advertising efforts and he mentioned going by an american version of his name.  i EMPHATICALLY asked him not to.  his two sons do go by american versions of their name but in the home, we... well, we go back and forth. 

i agree with resisting the notion of "having to change" just because it makes it easier on americans.  that ain't your problem... it's theirs (or ours rather..:-)

Multiple Personality Disorder

Yes, I've changed my name

by Multiple Personality Disorder on

...and we feel good about it.