Non Bogotá residents may be surprised at the fact that such a picture merits a post, whereas Bogotá residents will know how it feels to have a miracle dawn on you when a Colombian spells your very ordinary foreign name right, and in my case, not ‘Yesica’.
This miracle occured at Starbucks. However much I’m against big establishment I have to give them a nod of respect. They’ve probably given their staff intensive training on how to spell names the foreign ways and not ‘Yesica’ or ‘Jhon’. By courtesy of my friend Lorena Waserman, we also have Yudith (Judith), Maikl (Michael) and Mishell (Michelle), although I never had the fortune to meet any of those..
Here, the fun part is not just the Colombian version of English names. Here, there are a few names that you would never imagine to exist. Leydi, the Colombian short film that won the Palm d’Or – short film this year, actually shares the same name with thousands of Colombian women. ‘Leydi’ derives from ‘Lady’. So why are these women named ‘Lady’? It all started with Lady Diana, who, like other beautiful royal family members, got quite a bit of fascination from the Colombians in the 90s. So a lot of people who had babies at that time decided they liked the name Lady Diana. Diana is a common name here, so you will have lots of girls called Leydi Diana (double names are common, like Jose William and Maria Alejandra).
Another big name for girls is Usnavy, (pronounced Oos-Na-Vi). Usnavy is from US NAVY. The story is that when American armies arrived, Colombians saw U S N A VY on the navel ships, and picked up the name from there..
In addition to this lovely cocktails of names is the love of ‘diminutives’, ie, adding ‘little’ for every word. So here goes,
‘My little darling, would you like a little cookie with your little coffee?’
‘Yes, please, my little love, please give me a little plate.’ Or,
‘In order to register your company, please fill in the little form and wait a little while for little Carolina to help you. In the meantime, would you like a little water?’
As a result, you would have Jhon as ‘Jhoncito’, which apparently is a ‘loving’ way to call your colleague, although I’m not sure how flattered I would be if I were Jhon. So the other day, I decided to act ‘local’ in my role play with my student. As the ‘grandma’, I called my student ‘Henrycito’. Unfortunately, it didn’t go down so well, just ended up being a source of confusion. Apparently you don’t have diminutive for every single name.
Other legendary names include Yourlady (Jor-Lady), Onedollar (pronounced On-ei-do-ja), Lenin and Hamlet.
So I guess the few Nelsons I’ve met before aren’t actually that bad.