neljapäev, veebruar 07, 2008

johannes walker

As I was loading old newspapers and advertisements into the ahi the other day, I caught a glance of a reklaam (advert) for a peculiarly named brand of whiskey, "Johannes Walker."

"That can't be," I said to myself, shaking my head. I took another look and realized that I was looking at an advertisement for the Scottish whiskey "Johnnie Walker."

My eyes, having scanned through many issues of Postimees, were just accustomed to seeing the j, o, h, and n, and assembling "Johannes" from them instead of what was actually written, you see.

As I have written previously, Estonia is the kind of country where, if you have a foreign name, it makes your life a bit more complicated. It's not that they are unfamiliar with English names, it's just that they are not used to guys ordering taxis using those names.

I recently asked a friend in Tartu named Stew what name he uses when he orders taxis. He confessed that his wife usually does the ordering, but when pressed he uses "Sten" just to make his life easier. Then there's the editor of Baltlantis, who I am pretty sure is not named Vello Vikerkaar. Surnames too get "estonianized" without one asking. If your family name is "Johnson" it is likely that you will be rendered "Johansson" at the Post Office.

When I order a taxi, I have settled on using the name "Juhani." I like this name. I have been informed that mostly Finns are named "Juhani", but that will help explain my subtle yet definitely foreign accent. I have also noticed that the people at the taxi call centers are nicer when you say your name is "Juhani" rather than "dzha-steen" or "joo-stin". If I used my English name they might switch immediately to English and charge me double. As Juhani, I can pass as an a põder (reindeer) of the Markku Peltola variety and pay the actual rate.

What I would like to know is what names you foreigners in Eesti have used to order a takso at midnight? This should be interesting. I am also interested in knowing what names Estonians use when they are abroad. Epp's name is so unique that there is no English-language variant to adopt. Her uncle Tiit, though, goes by "Tim" in England with good reason. And when we met with a friend named "Ahto" in New York recently, he proudly passed off his name as "Otto", you know, like that bus driver on The Simpsons.

55 kommentaari:

sepp ütles ...

my case is pretty simple - i'm using my family name - Sepp (which is actually my nickname as well and really something i react to, unlike my real first name: Viljar)

it's very easy to understand and use for foreigners and the fact that it's first name in German speaking countries makes it even easier to use.

Rainer ütles ...

In my case it usually boils down to how the "a" is pronounced. Since it's a German name the Germans don't need any assistence. English-speakers tend to pronounce it reiner (a person who rains down), which I actually rather like...
And yes, I get those Rainier Wolfcastles a lot, especially by Americans :)

Maarja ütles ...

Instead of Maarja I use Maria, almost the same name. But I tend to use some shorter name ordering a taxi here in Estonia too, like Mari or Anu or Piret. Maarja tends to get lost in the phone lines and noise.

E:r ütles ...

I had loads of trouble, misunderstandings and comic situations with my name - Eero - when I was studying in UK.

Should it be pronounced like "Euro".. or perhaps like "hero"?

The double "e" at the beginning seemed to puzzle most people when I was spelling it over the phone.

L ütles ...

No matter how many times I've been called Linda or Lisa or Liliana or Liana, I have stayed true to my name. The double 'i' confuses them, but tough luck.

Anonüümne ütles ...

Well i dont have any problems with my surname (Erik) since its very common here. But when it comes to my family name its more complicated. My family name is Ångman and thats not so easy here. Imagine the people at the tax office franticly looking at their keyboard in search of the Å :P
I ususlly settle for Angman, though fonetically, Ongman would help people here pronounce it properly.

v. ütles ...

You could also use Gustav as your Estonian name...

As for me, I'm telling English-speaking people to call me Virginia, because my real name - Virge - seems to cause them excruciating pain, judged by their looks. I still haven't figured out what to tell Germans...:-)

Anonüümne ütles ...

Actually Finns are charged treble in taxis, so better use Juhan (perfect estonian name)

John Menzies ütles ...

Sepp wrote: "my case is pretty simple - i'm using my family name "

Unless you were ordering a taxi while posting your comment, you would say, "I use my family name"

news ütles ...

Not only has Johnnie Walker had his name changed in Estonia. You also changed whisky to whiskey, Guistino!!!

Doris ütles ...

Well, Doris is a 78-year-old bitter spinster with a gazillion cats in any country but Estonia (where she is the poet... Guess who I was named after!). So they usually manage well enough with my first name.

Surname - Definition:

1. somebody's family name: the name that identifies somebody as belonging to a particular family and that he or she has in common with other members of that family

(source: the first dictionary I got my hands on)

Rainer ütles ...

I think Doris sounds quite hot, really... One of those femme fatale names.
Doris the Dominatrix :P

Unknown ütles ...

Germans & French I haven't had much trouble with, but with english-speakers it usually depends on whether they hear it first or read it first. In former case I'm Mike, in latter Matt.

I've found that the best way to explain the intricacies of my name is to invoke Mighty Mouse. 'Mait = Might' is simpler than 'Mike with a t'.

There's no way for me to use my surname - for a three-letter-word I've gathered a bewildering collection of misspellings over the years.

sepp ütles ...

thanks for free english lesson. as a matter of fact, sarv, i was talking to my co-worker while posting previous comment. and he is not estonian...

lagritsalammas ütles ...

I've had also tons of trouble with my name - Jüri. In Estonia, it is a perfectly normal old Estonian name that everyone can pronounce without making any mistakes. My Russian acquaintances call me "Jura" or "Jurei", which is also not far from the original. But when it comes to "more foreign" people like Germans or Americans, it does get pretty unspellable for them. My German friends call me "Dshüüri" which is the best, because most of my other foreign friends can't even do that. :D
I love my name because it can puzzle people that much.

As for my surname - Türkei - even Estonians have had trouble spelling it when filling in forms. The easiest would be living with a name like that in Germany, because there it actually means something: Turkey (the country, not the bird).

Hansken ütles ...

My first name is Indrek. Sometimes (when I meet new people and its only gonna be some small talk in parties, etc.) I go for Henrik in UK - for some reason those Brits reckognise this Scandinavian version of my name. But sometimes I also go the long way and explain that my name is one of the Estonian versions of the common indo-european name of which their local version is Henry, Germans have Heinrich, Spanish Endrico, etc. And then I say that in my Estonian version the vowels have changed the places and it seems that then it clicks for them - so that it becomes possible for them to remember my name as it actually is.

P ütles ...

My first name - Pille - is usually prononounced correctly by Finns (obviously :)) and by Germans. With Americans it's a bit harder, I think it depends of the languages the person speaks (yeah, usually one :)). generally I was called Pila which in Estonian means rubbish or something like that. But usually I didn't bother to correct, because they didn't know the meaning and it was easier for all :) For Mexican-Americans I was Pilar, which is a common Spanish name. Some Turks claimed that Pille in Turkish means the sun, so they had no problem. Serbians said in their language I'm a little chicken; in Romanian I'm a comb. So I really have no idea whether they lied or not, but I know my name's meaning in many languages.
In French my name is "plunder", but so far nobody told me that, I looked it up myself in order to avoid any future embarrassment. And for some reason my French teacher remembered my name only after couple of months, although I thought it's quite easy to remember if it already means something :) But then again she also thought I'm from Latvia or Lithuania, although I've talked about Estonia many times. But hey, she's just French, c'est normal!
Now what comes to my last name which consist this beautiful and unique letter "õ", I could easily just forget about it. Nobody can pronounce it (except Estonians ofcourse :)) and it's simply replaced with "O". But when ordering a taxi, I say whatever name comes first to my mind :)

chile ütles ...

Ha! Yes yes, us estonians.. with my super universal forename i have no trouble (not here nor abroad), but when it comes to my scottish surname McLean.. oh dear. For one, the chance of them using a capital L is ... 0.
So im Mclean, which isnt correct for the love of god. But ofcourse this is just the tip of the iceberg. I dont have an accent, so when i say McLean, they are really puzzled. Mäklein? Mäkliin? And when they finally understand that its foreign they write mclein, or maclain, or mclein, never McLean!
Quel Horreur!

Unknown ütles ...

Mine is easy, I´m Heli and if foreigner sometimes don´t get it in phone f.e then I say "it´s Heli like heli-copter :D" and everyone pronounces and writes it correctly after that :DD.
One friend of mine who lives in Ireland and has common estonian guy-name Rain is called "rein" there so when he´s in estonia and everyone turns to him as Rain again then he sometimes forgets that others call him :).

Unknown ütles ...

That's odd. I've never been asked for my name when ordering a taxi (in Rakvere). Most foreigners can cope with my first name but the last name is a real PITA. Try explaining how to pronounce "Järv" to an English-speaker. It still ends up being "dzharv". And oh the horror with the Germans and their "Jerf".

Erich ütles ...

the first few times when ordering a taxi, I humbly told my surname "Schwarz" which is pronounced "shva:rts" in English. It was hardly reckognisable for the phone attendants for the reason of its beginning which is similar to an analogous modem going online. Since then, I keep to my first name, but usually with "k", because the German "ch"-sound is not to solve for foreign tongues.

Bäckman ütles ...


If the party has been a really good one, then "Lennu".

Unknown ütles ...

History justified the vigilantes,
we're no different.

Anyone who threatens the security
of the people will be executed.

-Evil for evil, Harry. Retribution.
-That's just fine.
But how does murder fit in?

When police start becoming
their own executioners...

...where's it gonna end, Briggs?

Pretty soon, you'll start executing people
for jaywalking.

And executing people for traffic violations.

Then you end up executing your neighbor
because his dog pisses on your lawn.

There isn't one man we've killed that
didn't deserve what was coming to him.

kärg ütles ...

Although my first name is unique even for Estonians, I've sticked to using it in all occasions, also when ordering taxis. Usually it works out fine. Of course, couple of times it has been mistaken for Kärt. While living in the UK now, I've chosen to do the same, and people do manage to pronounce it more or less correctly after a while. Fortunately, you are usually not asked for your name when ordering taxis here - I guess too many immigrants with all sorts of weird names - but the couple of times, I've been asked for it, I've just used my partner's name Eric. This has been accepted, even though the voice is clearly not a male one.

Alice ütles ...

My wife is called Kerli and because English people can't pronounce "R" in the Estonian way, then the name always turns out to be "Curly" which in their ears must be a nickname I've given her! They're always surprised she doesn't have a full head of Shirly Temple curls when they see her the first time. On the phone she always has to say her name is Curly spelt K-E-R-L-I.

Unknown ütles ...

My last name is Kant. I insist on pronouncing it the Estonian way of course, exccept with a heavy aspirated "k". Everytime I go abroad, I run into some problems. Calling a cab in Rockport Illinois:

I need a cab. What's my name? Kant. Click.

My mother's name was Aime.

Before meeting Juhan Kant and becoming Aime Kant (this was before globalization and the rise of English) Aime Saluveer had a friend named Kerli growing up in Rakvere.

Kerli actually made it to the West, where she married a man named John -- who is nicknamed Short.

My mom still sends them Christmas cards -- to Short and Kerli. Love, Aime Kant.

I'm not making this up.

Kaisa ütles ...

Oh, don't get me started. Attending high school in the US, I was called Karaisha, Keisa, Kaasa, Geisha, Kausa... the last one was the invention of my English teacher and he seemed so endlessly proud of himself for having allegedly mastered this weird name of mine that I didn't have the heart to correct him. Then there was a period when people of various nationalities could say my name perfectly on the first try. This has sadly ended and here in the UK I dread the question "What is your name?" because it is inevitably followed by a look of thinly veiled disgust and a grunt "What?! Koisa?" Yet I refuse to reinvent myself as Kate and continue to be a source of irritation for myself...

John Menzies ütles ...

My real name is an unpronounceable symbol. I prefer to run in front of cabs to get them to stop, and then reaching an agreement with the passenger, without the use of force. On the few occasions that I have called a cab company I usually pretend that there is a bad connection. Once I pretended to be choking, but that only made the dispatcher ask me the same question in Russian.

Bäckman ütles ...

My last name is Kant. I insist on pronouncing it the Estonian way of course, exccept with a heavy aspirated "k". Everytime I go abroad, I run into some problems.

Same words, man. But I always say my first name American way, you know?

Always problems.

Finally too much, I go back to Estonia.

Eppppp ütles ...

Hendrik, my mother`s name was also Aime Saluveer!

As for taxi, I go mostly with the family name.

LPR ütles ...

My name is Triip Pillerputs.

LPR ütles ...

Siis oleks pidand ju Johannes Jalutaja olema mitte Johannes Walker?

LPR ütles ...

On the topic of slavic existence:

Unknown ütles ...

Oops...Hendrik may be an asso', but in this case he just pick a common name randomly.

Rainer ütles ...

Here's a little tip for you, Hendrik:
the famous German philosopher Immanuel Kant is usually pronounced kaaaaant in "polite Engish speaking society". Maybe it could work for you, too?

Wahur ütles ...

American fella: "So whats your name?"
Me: "Vahur"
AF: What?
Me: V-A-H-U-R
AF: Eeeeee.... You know, lemme just call you John.

Im not even gonna start with all the amusing pronounciation variants I have heard :D

Luarvik ütles ...

The name Kadri gets pronounced in various different ways - like Audrey or Kadrii etc, and when I say I'm from Estonia, they (esp in NYC) think I'm from Astoria. So it's Audrey from Astoria.
So for the sake of making it easier for everyone I've used K.T., Kate etc. When ordering a taxi, simply Kati.
The Muslims get excited at the sight of the name and automatically make it into Kadir. So I get asked if I'm Muslim. A lot. Even my bday cake made at a local Wal-Mart said Happy Bday KADIR. :)

Unknown ütles ...

I'm sorry but I categorically insist on my family name being pronounced with a schwa(kənt).

My grandfather was a vabrikant and he was a great Kant. His father was a massive Kant, weighing 22 stone with Junker roots and nine children. I consider myself no less of a Kant.

The philosopher (kaaaant) was a distant relative, but that side of the family has a lot of black sheep -- people with short haircuts involved in the scrap metal trade.

Carl-Johan Sveningsson ütles ...

My name is absolutely hopeless to get right for most Estonians, usually I just whip out my Estonian ID card (which in itself is hard enough to explain to a bank teller how it was broken, renewed, broken, lost, cancelled, refound and must be renewed again).

"Carl-Johan" usually is reduced to a somewhat bothering "Karl" and "Sveningsson" becomes totally nonsensical, especially with that spelling. Though with taxis we've discussed how you should be able to get one for "Pope John Paul" and it ought to work out just as well.

Wow, you really have an amazing number of commentators. Maybe if I wasn't so secretive about the Swedish/Estonian (/American) blog me and my friend in the US used to write more frequently:

I may take it up again, and even though currently I am busy with my other projects beside work, I would love to see it linked among your other nordic blogs linked there from the sidebar.

Anonüümne ütles ...

There should be no problems with a name like ENN, right? Wrong!
Many years ago, my late friend Enn Elbing, chem.eng. prof at Monash, was visiting from Australia. We had a party. Late into the evening, I was cornered by a local guest:
"Nice fella, that Aussie prof, but what's his NAME?"
"C'mon. We've been talking for hours. I can't just call him N, for Chrissake! I mean, my name is Frank. You don't call me F, do you?"
"Well, his name really is ENN."
"N... Just an initial... Jesus, you Estonians can be so formal..."

Kristopher ütles ...

Like Soviet era academic citations (N. Bugadanov, K. Chukachuk). You never ever find out who N and K are...

Anonüümne ütles ...

Right on...
Admittedly, Frank was slightly in the bag. A couple of other true stories...
My late father was Ants. In his first workplace in Canada, although the personnel records had it right, the payroll department kept rolling out paychecks to ANT.
The old man confronted them, and explained that "It's Ants, with S on the end, but you don't have to pay more than to just one insect."

In Thunder Bay, the nurses had an inordinate amount of trouble paging our late friend Dr Heino Kulasalu. You can imagine the convoluted and incomprehensible drivel that went out over the hospital PA system as Heino's patients lay waiting in extremis...

He finally changed his name legally to Kent.

LPR ütles ...

For those of you who dig russian "anekdoty", check it out:

stockholm slender ütles ...

Talking about taxis and Finns - there has admittedly been certain interesting variations in price when I have been taking the taxi alone (despite of never uttering a word of Finnish) compared with the occasions when my wife is along to do the talking... This, I must complain, is surely highly irregular and non-Nordic! Though I must say that Tartu has been much better in this regard than Tallinn. (Travelling to Tartu next week, btw, always a nice feeling of anticipation, it is such a lovely place.)

Craig Hamer ütles ...

When I order a taxi or use my nave over the phone I never use Craig. This usually results in a strong and forceful Mida? So I go with my middle name Martin, which is common, but my parents had no idea where Estonia was when they gave it to me, and then I am luck with a last name Hamer, so I usually just say it and then add, with one a, so they don't think my name is hammer, but it doesn't really matter, they usually make up whatever they want.

LPR ütles ...

In 1995 I had to go to Mustam2 Haigla in Tallinn. Everything was fine until the moment when the spinchter behind the glass began processing my charges. Stupid me, I had marked my correct home address. In the United States. Naturally, the charge was doubled on the spot.

Anonüümne ütles ...

"Talking about taxis and Finns...
Well, I suppose that in big cities everywhere one is at the mercy of cabbies to an extent. Still, I've encountered remarkably honest and helpful cabbies everywhere (the other kind don't really suprise me any more), even in Paris, York, London, Tallinn...
But the most consistently 'straight' cabbies I've had the luck to deal with have been in Helsinki. For example, upon getting off the Tallinn ferry at the port and giving my destination out in Espoo to one driver in the first taxi-rank, I have been directed to another rank with the explanation: 'Well, I can take you there, but if you go to that guy over there, he'll take you for half the price.' Something to do with zones, I suppose, since the cars and company markings looked similar to me. But he was right.
On another visit, after a leisurely lunch at the Ravintola Solna downtown with our friends Raija and Seppo, my wife paid the bill and we proceeded on foot, leaving Solnantie and taking many twists and turns through a residential area. Seppo was showing us where he had grown up and gone to school. We must have gone some distance (walking for perhaps 10-15 minutes) when we heard a voice hailing us from behind and turned to see our waiter from the Solna, in full kit with bowtie and somewhat breathless, sprinting uphill toward us. He presented us with my wife's pocketbook (stuffed and overflowing with cards, euros, dollars, kroons) which she had left on the table after paying. Now this young waiter must have had remarkable radar and the fleetness of Paavo Nurmi to track us. Not to mention of course very Finnic honesty and diligence. My wife had left quite a handsome tip, but we felt bad that our waiter had had to sprint for it... Well, we were a bit jet-lagged, and all...

stockholm slender ütles ...

Yeah, the Finnish taxi system is certainly incredibly reliable. It is so strictly regulated that you basically never encounter unlicenced taxis. The minus side is that in peak times (the most notorious being the Christmas party season) you can have quite long queues. Also there can basically be no price competition - but on the other hand you won't be cheated, you will have very professional and knowledgeable drivers and no need to negotiate the price beforehand to avoid unpleasant surprises at the destination. Of course this makes Finns quite amateurish and clumsy taxi customers in large areas of the planet...

Anonüümne ütles ...

Confusion about names reminds me of an odd story to do with Finnish names...

Many years ago, my wife and I spent a couple of years teaching at Confederation College in Thunder Bay in Northern Ontario. Thunder Bay has one of the biggest Finnish colonies in North America, numbering some 150,000. Many of the outlying communities in the area have Finnish names like Lappe, Kivikoski, Sistonen's Corners, etc.

One of the most common names to be found in the phone book up there is MAKI, without the diacritical of course. Now some of these 'Makis' may have been originally Mäkis, others were no doubt foreshortened from Kaunismäki, Kauramäki, Koivumäki, Myllymäki, Palomäki, Lamminmäki, Rautamäki, Peramäki, Hakomäki, Kortesmäki, Hautamäki, Niinimäki, Katajamäki, etc. Others, like Mäkelä, Mäkinen, Mäkitalo, Mäkivuori, etc., by deleting the suffix, were similarly transformed into Maki. Anyhow, there's one hell of a lot of MAKI'S. (Some of the Finns sought to minimize the confusion by anlicizing their "Maki" to "Hill." That didn't really solve the problem. The phone book has pages upon pages of "Hills" as well.

One of my classmates from university, a descendant of the Stornoway Scots who first settled the Lakehead area, welcomed us to his hometown and filled us in on local lore. In the course of conversation, he told us about a particular Mäki -- a Toivo Mäki -- who, he alleged, was a Finnish-speaking Japanese-Canadian. This Toivo Mäki was a professional bartender, and a very successful one, much in demand at local weddings, reunions and all major social functions. Since Finns constituted a high proportion of his clientele, this Toivo Mäki had learned Finnish and legally changed his name.

At first we thought that my classmate was putting us on, pulling our legs. A Japanese Toivo Mäki? Not so. Before long, we attended a large social function, and there he was the Japanese Toivo Mäki, in charge of his own crew of bartenders, serving the public and chatting away to the many Finnish guests in Finnish.

Besides Finns, Thunder Bay also has large contingents of Italians and Ukrainians. It is (seriously) the only place I know of where amongst the choices of pizza toppings you can order ... chopped cabbage and herring.

Unknown ütles ...
Autor on selle kommentaari eemaldanud.
Unknown ütles ...
Autor on selle kommentaari eemaldanud.
Unknown ütles ...

Why is naked women funny
and naked men is sexy?

What we're going to do:
We got Eddie.

He's Estonian: Of course
he's afraid of nudity.

He's afraid of a naked woman.

Naked women can be sexy,

Thinks he's getting
free mehe-liha.

Politicians are sucker
for free liha.

Why is naked men okay
and naked women is funny?

Let's have
a naked waiter there.

I think that's fantastic.

What is that?
Why is that a problem?

We'll run Ilmar there,
his dong hanging out.

pića ütles ...

My first name is Kärt and this has always been a pain in the arse for my foreign friends. A few months ago I attended an international event for two weeks, and the first 4 days was hilarious, with the people trying to pronounce my name. then I got tired of that and said: Would you just call me Carrot? since then, I'm Carrot to them. ;)
(ofcourse there has been some more: Kurt, Cat, Cady,etc)

Karla ütles ...

Many years ago a Canadian Esto named Avo went to U of Michigan in Ann Arbor.
The admissions clerk had taken the liberty of altering the spelling of his first name to Ava.
When he checked in at the the residence he'd been assigned to, he found he'd been assigned a room in the women's dorm.
No, sadly, he was not allowed to stay even the first night.

seisus kohustab ütles ...

Try living with Piret.
most forigners think I'm a man so in 9 hotels out of 10 they expect a Mr.
the rest have my account details and even then I get an odd Mister as no one in their right mind would call a girl Piret!
once they get to grips with the concept of Piret being my name I have 70-30 chances between a Pirate or a Parrot. Even my credit card says Pirret and it took me a month to notice the double-R :)
In French-speaking countries they get the spelling right but assume it as my last name so often someone called Mr/Ms Piret is expected to turn up.
So whenever I order taxis or book tables in restaurants I just use Laura as it resembles my last name and is much easier to get across.
This has once resulted to Lora (in London) meaning bull***t in Estonian. I made sure I kept that receipt :)