Chilean names

As some of you know, I am a great fan of the country Chile. A great place to be and a great place to discover travelling. There must be a thousand odd reasons to why I enjoy this long country in South America so much – but there is one little detail about the country, I would love to share with you: The Chilean names.

I love Chilean names because they can be so extraordinary. The mix of names from different origins and backgrounds that show so clearly, that Chile is a nation of very mixed immigration. Most of the people in Latinamerica are some kind of ‘mestizos’ – a mix of indigenous indian and Spanish immigrants. So most Latin-American surnames are very often Spanish like; Gonzales, Pizarro, Rodriguez etc. But in Chile the mix of names go alot further and show some very funny mixtures of names that show that immigrants in Chile not only came from Spain but also from many other parts of the world – which is exactly the case in Chile.

My father in-law is called Hugo Arnaldo Bustos Alister. Here in Chile, people have two first names and two surnames. The surnames consist of one from the mother’s side and one from the father’s side. My father in-laws first surname ‘Bustos’ is very typical Spanish and comes from his Spanish ancestors on his mother’s side. ‘Alister’ comes from his father’s side of the family that came from Scotland. This a a very typical example of how you can interpret the origen of a Chilean person. In this case of my father in law, you can therefore quite easily interpret where his forefathers came from.

But sometimes names tend to change alittle – just alittle – as the generations pass. In case of my father in-law, his surname was originally ‘McAlister’ but during a few generations the name has been shortened to just ‘Alister’. Why? Well, probably because someone thought it was easier to pronounce, or maybe just simply because of some small error by the time of inscription, when those things were all done in handwriting. So sometimes, typical surnames get a little ‘chilenized’ which make them distinct and also very original. And that´s why you sometimes can see some really unique combinations of names.

Many people use just one first name and one surname in public. Like the well-known Chilean businessman, who is called; Hernán Sommerville. ‘Hernán’ being very Spanish (like Hernán Cortéz, one of the famous Spanish conquistadores), while ‘Sommerville’ definately is very British.

The Germans are widely represented in the history of immigration to Chile in the 19th century and the mixture between German and Hispanic shows itself in names like: Fransisco Stolzfus, Günther Gonzales and the almost impressive: Alan Morquez Schwammenhofer. A womans first name could even be ‘Froilan’ which is a chilenization of ‘Freulein’ (German for the unmarried female: Miss)
The Yugoslavs have been here too, and have left names like Pedro Djordanovich and Antonio Slattery Smoljanovich (I´m sure that this fellow must be involved with some kind of mafia-activity or at least be a used car salesman).

Sometimes you can find real indigenous names mixed with European ones: Ruperto Svensson or Ingrid Quetalpillan. They must have had some beautiful children!

But now it gets worse; sometimes Chileans have names that surely wasn´t intented to be read or spoken out loud in English: Julia Assmann, Gustavo Dickstein, Eduardo Butt, Patricia E. Smock or Rosemeire Fuckner. And there´s a cuter one: Maria Loveluck….somehow I just would love to see who she is…. Here´s one that I think could win the trophy of a odd-name competition: Winston Gayan Cock! It´s true, I have just found it in the 2006 Santiago phonebook. Just imagine in the airport: “Would Mr. Cock please present himself at gate C21, this is our last call….!”

And the list goes on with peculiar names: Cecilia Duck, Gladys Drago Worm, Felipe Segovia Fmok (still wondering how to pronounce this one?), Jaime Olavarría Goo – not to mention a name as great as; Washington Torres O´Kinnghtnones.

I will let you in on a little secret of mine. You see, when I first started to notice these interesting names in Chile – I basicly just happened to see them in the newspaper or saw them on TV. Since then I have started to search for them in the telephone directory. And you know what? I can hardly stop when I first get started….It really gets to me.

Can you imagine reading a telephone directory for your bedtime reading? People generally think I have gone mad, but I can´t help it. Sometimes my wife hears me laughing loudly from the loo, and when she sees I come out with a thick telephone book she just shakes her head in despair…It´s like I’m getting addicted. I have got to get my dose of weird names, and I will stay happy…

I just found a couple more names to keep me fed and happy until tomorrow. These are really creative: Rosa Castro Lips, Oscar Jhonson (not Johnson, but Jhonson – I would use that as a name as a jazz-artist!), Germán Fuhrer (!) and Franchesca Fl (how the hell does one pronounce just Fl….?)

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