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Is This Whole Culture Off Limits?

My husband and I are expecting our first child in about a month. After months of debating, we finally agreed to name her Nadia. Now though, we're getting cold feet due to world events. In the event of conflict with Russia, we worry about our daughter being saddled with a very Russian sounding name. Are we crazy to try to find another name?

- Nervous about Nadia

Names have the magical ability to conjure up a world of meanings from a simple string of sounds. That power is what makes them so fascinating, but it can have a downside too. If someone makes headlines for the wrong reasons, their dark cloud can cast a shadow over their name -- and by extension, anyone who bears it.

That guilt by association can be irritating if you share a name with a Hollywood celeb who behaves badly. It can be downright scary if you share a name with an enemy of the state. Not surprisingly, American parents abandoned the baby name Osama after the 9/11 attacks.

Osama bin Laden, though, was an individual. Does the notion of "enemy names" extend to a whole naming tradition? Happily, I don't think so.  Ethnic prejudice in times of conflict is an unfortunate reality. A name, though, is a lot more than just its ethnic origin, and ethnic identity is a lot more than just a name.

Nadia is a familiar cross-cultural favorite. If you look back in history, names like that haven't been casualties of geopolitical events. During WWI and WWII, as the U.S. fought Germany, American parents continued to choose names like Herman and Frederick. Even the name Fritz, which was used as a slang term for the enemy, managed to hang on. And Nadia itself first took off in America in the midst of the Cold War, thanks to Romanian gymnast Nadia Comăneci.

So my advice is not to overthink this one. All the qualities that make Nadia appeal so much to you should keep it appealing to everyone around you, too.


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May 13, 2014 12:19 PM
By Anya (not verified)

I'm Russian, and I'm telling you, you'll be okay:)
Certainly don't drop a name you love over some stupid actions of a handful of Russian authorities.
Not only your daughter with a Russian name will be fine. My Russian children get only positive reactions to their origins.
Besides, Nadia is not strictly Russian. I know a Mexican lady named Nadia. This name is also pretty popular with Turkish peoples.

May 13, 2014 12:29 PM
By Alexey Feldgendler (not verified)

Note that Nadia is as much an Ukrainian name as it is Russian.

May 13, 2014 12:33 PM
By Jennifer J. (not verified)

I wouldn't think Russian if I met a Nadia. I'd think Romanian, because of the gymnast.

May 13, 2014 3:48 PM
By Keith G (not verified)

Hey, its not Adolf, where the name itself tends to personify evil. I actually like the name Nadia. Would've been so much better than Sofia, which we picked it at the height of its popularity.

May 13, 2014 3:54 PM
By Anonymous (not verified)

Nadia is a beautiful name! It was the name of a character in the TV show "Lost." The character was Middle Eastern, I believe.

May 13, 2014 11:54 PM
By Anonymous (not verified)

Yeah, and it's Arabic too, نديّة which most accurately transliterated Nadiyyah, but frequently written Nadia, like Nadia Ali.

May 28, 2014 11:36 PM
By Divine (not verified)

I LOVE the name Nadia! It is not very common, but heard of. As a matter of fact, if we have another (girl) child her name will be Nadia. And yes like a PP said, it is so much better than Sofia.

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