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Anna Spargo-Ryan
07-05-2014, 12:13 PM
Hi :)

I would love some help with an appropriate name for a character. He's had a temporary name throughout the submission process, but now that I'm editing I'd like to make sure I'm being culturally sensitive.

This is a man born in the 1930s, either in the south of India or to southern Indian parents, I think within the Kshatryia caste. His parents were probably smart and educated people.

Preferably not a name starting with S or H.

Thank you kindly!

snafu1056
07-05-2014, 01:39 PM
It might help you to know the languages of India. Heres a handy map.

http://titus.fkidg1.uni-frankfurt.de/didact/karten/indi/indicf.jpg

Depending on where you characters live, just google popular names in that language and you should find something.

Wilde_at_heart
07-05-2014, 08:25 PM
Hopefully someone from South India can chime in, but maybe settling on a particular State or locale might help? Also, are you looking for full names?

I have a rather elderly family friend from Kerala, but he's Catholic afaik... His first name is Mayan.

If you do settle on Kerala instead of Tamil, this might help: http://www.prokerala.com/kids/baby-names/hindu/

Keyan
07-06-2014, 03:42 PM
You may need to be more specific than "Southern India" unless it doesn't matter. Is he Kannadiga, or Tamil, or Keralite? Telugu? Coorgi? The naming conventions differ. In the 1930s, he would still be likely to have a very traditional name, not a "modern" one.

If he's a major character, it's more complicated. People he interacts with would call him different things. For instance, his younger siblings would use a title meaning elder brother. He might go by a nickname, especially if he's named for an elder (like a grandfather). His friends and co-workers would call him by his actual name, or a contraction of it.


This is all assuming the story is set in India. If he's immigrated to, say, the US, then it's different. He may well have Anglicised his name for easy use, because South Indian names tend to be long and difficult to pronounce correctly in a US context.

So, more info? Where's the story, and what's this character doing? Who does he interact with?

Anna Spargo-Ryan
07-07-2014, 03:12 PM
Thanks for all of your suggestions :)


You may need to be more specific than "Southern India" unless it doesn't matter. Is he Kannadiga, or Tamil, or Keralite? Telugu? Coorgi? The naming conventions differ. In the 1930s, he would still be likely to have a very traditional name, not a "modern" one.

If he's a major character, it's more complicated. People he interacts with would call him different things. For instance, his younger siblings would use a title meaning elder brother. He might go by a nickname, especially if he's named for an elder (like a grandfather). His friends and co-workers would call him by his actual name, or a contraction of it.


This is all assuming the story is set in India. If he's immigrated to, say, the US, then it's different. He may well have Anglicised his name for easy use, because South Indian names tend to be long and difficult to pronounce correctly in a US context.

So, more info? Where's the story, and what's this character doing? Who does he interact with?

He's either been born in Australia, or immigrated with his parents as a child. He doesn't have any family here (his parents have long since died and he was never married) so there's no one to use specific titles to represent their relationship with him, I wouldn't think.

He doesn't mention the specific region that he's from and it doesn't come up (his neighbours are an Italian woman who immigrated after WWII, and an English/Irish family who have been in Australia since the 1800s), but I would like to be as truthful as possible about his background and about the city in which the book is set (Melbourne has the highest Indian population in Australia, and is generally very culturally diverse). He makes reference to having had an arranged marriage (she died before they were married) and at one point he and his neighbour cook Coconut Laddu.

He is a secondary character, being the next-door neighbour and occasional visitor of my main character.

Any suggestions (name or generally!) would be wonderful. Thanks so much.

Telergic
07-07-2014, 06:34 PM
I know that a fair number of people in southern Indian used not to use last names at all, not in the western pattern, anyway. My old officemate at Bellcore, for one (I'm guessing born in the 1950s), wound up having to use his father's first name as a family name in order to fill out forms in the US, and I think he was reasonably high caste, though I don't know if he was kshatriya or not. However, as Keyan just pointed out, naming is not so much a regional distinction as an ethnic and cultural one.

Keyan
07-08-2014, 01:30 AM
Telergic is right. The naming pattern is typically [Village or house name] [Father's name] [Given name]. And in some cases, the first of these is dropped, so the name is [Father's name] [Given name]. So brothers would have the same initial (from the father's name) but different given names that would also be used as a surname. And to complicate things, some people use a caste name or 'gotra' name as a surname....

Since this is a secondary character, I'd guess you probably don't need to go there.

However: in the era you're talking of, Australia had a "white Australia" immigration policy. So his parents wouldn't likely have just immigrated. That's not to say Indians didn't get to Australia, but I'd guess it would have been exceptional not routine.

Other things to consider: India was under British rule until 1947. And WW2.

If it's not important for him to be South Indian, you might consider making him Gujarati or Sindhi, of the trading community. They went where business opportunities arose. (That would be a whole different set of names, though. And probably less emphasis on formal education, more on learning the ropes of the family business.)

If his marriage had been arranged, and the girl died before they could marry, his parents would traditionally have found another potential bride. (And widowers would traditionally remarry even though widows did not.)

Keyan
07-08-2014, 01:50 AM
I'd wonder why this man doesn't have any family... Indian families of that era tended to be large, so he'd have siblings. And they would tend to stay in touch. They'd probably visit back and forth at least once every few years even if they don't live near by, and he would visit relatives in India.

But again, if he's a secondary character, this doesn't need to be emphasized. He could just mention siblings, alive or dead.

Also, if he's in Australia, he may have deliberately moved away from the culture. Some people find traditional close-knit cultures suffocating.

Rather than Kshatriya, how about making him Brahmin? Maybe his father was an academic of some kind, and possibly the University/ Institute/ Institution found a way to finagle a visa for the family to move to Australia and stay there.

A few possible names: Venkatesan; Ramachandran; Gopalan; Gopinath; Chellappa; Jayaraman. If he's living in Australia, he would likely have adopted a nickname, something like Ven or Jay or Ray. (Depending on his profession, he might have picked something wholly western: one guy I know goes by "Steve" instead of Shekhar.)

Siri Kirpal
07-08-2014, 03:32 AM
If it's not important for him to be South Indian, you might consider making him Gujarati or Sindhi, of the trading community. They went where business opportunities arose. (That would be a whole different set of names, though. And probably less emphasis on formal education, more on learning the ropes of the family business.)

If his marriage had been arranged, and the girl died before they could marry, his parents would traditionally have found another potential bride. (And widowers would traditionally remarry even though widows did not.)

Sat Nam! (literally "Truth Name"--a Sikh greeting)

Gujarati people are often Jains, and Jains are often highly educated. (At least in my experience.)

Dittoing the bit about the parents finding a second bride in those circumstances.

In Australia, he might very well have an English nickname.

Blessings,

Siri Kirpal

AnnaPappenheim
08-11-2014, 09:10 AM
Prasanth

Pronounced: "Pra-sh-anth"

A male Indian friend of mine had this name. He was from the south in India, and his state started with a "K"… may have been the state you mentioned.

He was born around 1980.

bookworm92
08-19-2014, 05:32 PM
South Indian Tamilan here. I'm a Brahmin too. For names, you can pick a God's name for a character like Vishnu or Govind. It's common for Hindus to give such names to children.

Couple of grandparents' (and relatives) from that time period (1930s -40s):

Ramaswamy, Srinivasan, Gopal

Ditto on the second bride thing.

And AnnaPappenhiem, I think the state you're referring to is Kerala.

T J Deen
08-19-2014, 05:58 PM
Ravi, sometimes short for Ravindra. The name can be found in use as far back as the mid 1700's.