What’s in a Name?

Nov 27, 2016


IMG_4931Some of you may have noticed that your student’s name is spelled differently on the website that you have seen previously. Or perhaps you’ve noticed that your sponsored child often spells his/her own name differently within their letters to you.

This is something that can be culturally difficult to understand. Nicaragua is a country where literacy rates have only in recent years began to rise. Many of our students are the first generation to learn to read. Even if their parents are able to read it is most likely that their grandparents could not. Because of the still low literacy rates, the spelling of names does not have great importance in the communities where we work.

IMG_3146Parents look at their newborn son or daughter and chose a name that seems most fitting to them. As these parents go and register their children with the government, receive birth certificates, etc. they say their child’s name and someone else is writing it down. Often times children’s names are spelled differently on the birth certificate than they are in the government registry. Because many of our parents still do not read or write, they are unsure of how their child’s name is spelled. They care deeply for their children, but the actual spelling of their name becomes unimportant. This has created a pattern within families. If your parents were unconcerned with your name spelling, it is likely that you will take the same approach and priorities with your own children.

Just to give you an example, we are going to take a look at Cadence from our sponsorship staff. Her name is unique here in Nicaragua and is difficult for people to spell. Here is a list of ways that the name CADENCE has been spelled:

Kierment, Queren, Keyren, Quereint, Keyden, Cuerent, Keiren

The community cares for deeply for her, but almost no one has learned to spell her name correctly. Her name may be saved in the mission’s phone under one spelling, written by a sponsored student another way, and written by teachers using yet another spelling. You can see how things can become confusing. IMG_4941

As literacy rates continue to climb within this new generation, it is possible that name spellings will become more important and more consistent in the following generations. However, this change will be slow and for the time being, you may continue to see different spellings for the same students name. As we switch to our new website, we are trying to be as consistent as possible and spell your student’s name as he/she spells it most often.