Thursday, December 04, 2008

A Venezuelan Whose First Name Is Hitler? A Frenchman is Shocked; A Venezuelan Whose First Name Is Stalin? The Frenchman Is Amused

In Le Monde, Jean-Pierre Langellier has an article about the strange and funny first names that Venezuelans give their children.

There is Jefferson, Eisenhower, Kennedy, Nixon, Elvis, John Wayne, Usnavi, and, in the oil-producing region of Maracaibo, there are even kids (since grown up) named General Electric, Max Donald, and Made in USA. Along with Danger as well as Yesaidu and Juan Jondre, local adaptations of "Yes, I do" and "One hundred".

So far, so good. But here is where the French particularity comes out. Jean-Pierre Langellier points out there are some names of dubious taste, such as Iroshima Jennifer Bravo Queredo and Hitler Eufemio Sanchez Mayora, Jr, son of Hitler Eufemio Sanchez Mayora, Sr, and one of 60 people in the country with the first name Hitler.

The problem is whom the Frenchman did not include in the dubious name category. Indeed, see how the entire article started:
Lenin Danieri travaille comme reporter pour une chaîne de télévision vénézuélienne. Stalin Gonzalez, ex-leader étudiant, vient d'être battu aux élections municipales. Hochiminh Jesus Delgado Sierra dirige une entreprise à Barquisimento, une capitale provinciale. Mao Pinto est publicitaire.
Having Hitler for a first name is dubious (as we can all agree), but, obviously, for a Frenchman like Jean-Pierre Langellier, having Lenin, Stalin, Mao, Hochiminh, or Chegueva as a first name is not, and is obviously nothing less than as cute as Jefferson or Kennedy. In the country where, we are told, it is not at all true that people regret the Soviet era, note that (at the time of this writing) no reader has come forward to protest (or even offer a comment).

(True, Jean-Pierre Langellier goes on to bemoan the "sad" example of Carlos the Jackel, but that seems to be because the terrorist born Ilich Ramirez Sanchez (his brothers were named Lenin and Vladimir) brings disfavor to Lenin's (original first) name, not because Lenin's name brings disrepute to the terrorist.)

No comments: