Sometimes when we learn different languages, we use slightly different names for ourselves. I introduce myself to Thai people as “นิค” (a Thai spelling of “Nick”) and in Denmark I now introduce myself to Danes as “Nicholas”.
There are a couple of reasons why. The most practical reason is that when I am listening to Danish people speak amongst themselves, I frequently mishear my name being called out or used out of context!
It’s to do with how the words flow into each other during a natural conversation. There is a Danish word “ikke” which is used to negate statements and even ask questions. It comes up a lot, and is actually pronounced more like an “ik” sound. If it so happens to be after a previous word ending in “n”, I hear a “…n-ik” or “Nick” sound.
I used to genuinely get very confused, as I’d hear my name but there would no absolutely no visual or social cues that they are talking about me or want to talk to me. After a while my brain started to filter this out, to the point where I began to unintentionally ignore Danish people when they were actually trying to say my name and talk to me!
So, Nicholas it is. It’s working well for me so far – I’m not accidentally ignoring people anymore – and there is also another, more personal reason why I am using this name. It’s actually my real, given name. It’s the name on my passport, certificates and official documents. It’s the name that was used for most of my childhood, and it feels nice to have a bit of consistency and congruence. Nicholas finally grew up and became an adult.
Have you found yourself using different names when you are learning any of your languages? How do these names make you feel and affect you as a language learner? I’d really like to know what your thoughts are on this. Thanks for reading my blog, and happy language learning!