When someone decides to invent a fantasy land, they often give everyone exotic and strange names to help reinforce the essential foreignness. However, in some cases, the writer decides to keep things a bit more down to Earth, and so keeps the exotic names, but only uses real names.
Melting-Pot Nomenclature occurs when these names come from different, disparate cultures, countries, and languages.
Note that this only applies to single fictional countries. If you have one country with French names and one with German, then it's not an example. However, a small farming village where you can meet a pair of brothers names Pierre and Gunter would
be an example.
There is some Truth in Television
to this, in countries that have large and diverse immigrant populations. It is particularly common in Western Hemisphere countries, in which descendants of European, Asian, and African settlers and slaves outnumber descendants of the natives, and intercultural marriage results in a huge mishmash of names across the board. Let alone parents who choose foreign names for their kids just because they like the sound. Or make up totally new names.
Compare Aerith and Bob
, which combines real names with fictional ones in a single setting, and Wacky Americans Have Wacky Names
where a Real Life
cultural melting pot leads to mashups that sound odd to people from other cultures, in turn leading to exaggerations in fiction. Not to be confused with Multi-Ethnic Name
, which is this trope set in the real world and often with a specific explanation.
Anime & Manga
- In Berserk, we have the Italian Renaissance-ish port of Vritanis, where the van Damion family lives ('van Damion' means 'from Damion' in Dutch, but 'Damion' doesn't sound anything like typical Dutch place names). They have kids with names like Magnifico and Farnese (Italian).
- Code Geass characters have names with their origins in just about every different European culture, sometimes within the same family. Might be justified by the fact that The Empire has taken over and assimilated large parts of the world.
- Mai-Otome: The show taking place on a far-future Lost Colony, most characters have Japanese given names and European family names. Then there's Altai, where a mix of Chinese and Russian names is the norm. Half of this oddity comes from the fact that the writers want you to immediately identify characters from its predecessor.
- One Piece has this sometimes. Some characters are given European-sounding names, but they're actually following Asian naming conventions. Thus Monkey D. Luffy's first name is actually Luffy, while his family name is Monkey D. Yes. His middle initial is his family name. Others are meant to be from a Western culture, but are given strange and unfitting names (Word of God says Sanji is French, but his name means "three o'clock snack" in Japanese).
- Fullmetal Alchemist uses European names for the Amestrian characters, but without any seeming realization that "Europe" is actually dozens of different languages, cultures, and peoples. English, French, German, Italian, Low Countries, and even Turkish names (in the case of Selim Bradley), as well as As Long as It Sounds Foreign, are jumbled together seemingly randomly, along with the occasional Japanese name.
- Claymore has many names that could reasonably appear in a quasi-Medieval European setting (Clare, Teresa, Flora) and then throws in ones like Queenie and Tesla, the latter of whom is not only a female, but has a name that's usually used as a surname, not a given one. Then there's Dietrich, usually a male given name again used for a female, along with mythological ones like Galatea, Nike, Undine and Uranus that stick out like a sore thumb next to the others. Given the huge cast, most of which are female one gets the sense that the author eventually just started flipping through a baby names book and picking at random.
- In Peanuts there is the minor character José Peterson, whose roots are Swedish on his father's and Mexican on his mother's side. Also, some members of the cast combines familiar Anglo-American names with German or Dutch surnames: Patricia "Peppermint Patty" Reichardt; Lucy, Linus and Rerun Van Pelt.
- Some examples from The X-Men:
- Quicksilver aka Pietro Maximoff: Italian given name, slavic surname.
- Sauron aka Karl Lykos: German given name, Greek surname.
- Storm aka Ororo Munroe (daughter of a Kenyan mother and an American father): (fictional) East African given name, American (Scottish?) surname.
- Sasquatch aka Walter Langkowski: English or German given name, Polish surname.
- Mystique aka Raven Darkhölme: English given name, pseudo-Scandinavian surname (which most likely is fake).
- Legion aka David Charles Haller (son of an Israeli mother born in Germany): Hebrew first name commonly used in many languages (name of his foster father), Anglo-French, originally Germanic middle name (name of his biological father, an American), German surname (of a type frequently used Jewish families).
- Jubilee aka Jubilation Lee (second-generation Chinese-American): English given name, Chinese family name.
- Rictor aka Julio Esteban Richter: Spanish given names, German surname.
- Anne-Marie Cortez (French given names, Spanish surname) and her fellow Acolyte Harry Delgado (English given name, Spanish surname).
- Belladonna "Belle" Boudreaux (Gambit's wife): Italian given name, French surname.
- Annie and Carter Ghazikhanian: Anglo-American given names, Armenian (?) surname.
- Happens in the Vorkosigan Saga with French (Pierre), Russian (Ivan, Piotr), and English (Miles) names occuring in the same family. Though this is justified (or handwaved) by the multi-ethnic group that settled Barrayar. Cryoburn takes place on a planet with obvious Japanese influence, but several of the characters have a Japanese given name and Western surname, or the other way around.
- Shiv Cordonah got his hands on a book full of Old Earth names, resulting in in his children getting (very long) names from a wide array of Earth cultures.
- Ender's Game has this at the Battle Academy, which is full of children from around the world.
- In Havemercy, the main characters' Fantasy Counterpart Russia seems to contain a mix of French and British names with a handful of names from other languages thrown in for good measure, with no explanation for the mix or why nobody's name sounds as though it comes from the same language as the name of the country itself. The neighboring pseudo-China country, meanwhile, mixes Chinese, Japanese, and Korean-sounding names — though it is an empire which has conquered a lot of territory.
- Dutch Fantasy/Sci-Fi author Tais Teng likes to do this in futuristic settings or stories taking place in particularly large cities. The worst example is his charlatan Sherlock Holmes Captain Ersatz, one of the last pure-blooded human beings in the universe; his full name is Percy d'Arezzo y Mac Shimonoseki.
- In Everworld ancient cultures survive, but often live close to each other in patterns totally different from our world. One result is a large number of Black Vikings (and Asian Vikings, etc.), including a pair of brothers named Sven and Sancho (whose mother was apparently an Aztec).
- Damn near everyone in the Honor Harrington series has a name like this to accentuate the mixing of ethnicity that came with the diaspora, such as Alfredo Yu, and Honor's mother Allison Carmena Elena Inéz Regina Benton-Ramirez y Chou Harrington. Any given planet will usually pick from only one or two sources, so Andrew Kobayashi is unlikely to be from the same planet as Sven Tran.
- In Apparatus Infernum, all sorts of names co-exist in the setting, ranging from Scandinavian to Japanese. This reflects the diverse origins of the settlers from "our" world who stumbled on it.
- Alejandro Jorges Umemoto from Armor is the ruler of a planet whose culture is clearly based on Feudal Japan.
- Character names in The Witcher are mostly Polish and German. While many of the German names are common in English and exist in French and Spanish as well, some of the Polish ones might be very unfamiliar to western readers and seem like cases of Aerith and Bob. During the Middle Ages many Germans settled in Slavic areas near the Baltic Sea, so a mix of names like this would have been common in many regions.
- The Babylon 5 episode A Voice In The Wilderness featured an ISN report about rioting happening on Mars. The news anchor informed the audience that they were switching over to ISN correspondant Derek Mobotabwe, who turns out to be a fair-skinned man with a stereotypical American newscaster voice.
- On Star Trek: Deep Space Nine, Miles and Keiko O'Brien name their son Kirayoshi O'Brien. The name reflects not only his Irish and Japanese heritages, but of the Bajorian Kira Nerys who volunteered to be his surrogate when Keiko was in a life threatening accident. (In Japanese, his first name means "Good Kira") Also, his big sister Molly has two middle names; Miyaki (a town in Japan) and Worf (the Klingon who delivered her).
- Both Deep Space Nine and Star Trek: The Next Generation featured Worf's son from time to time, Alexander Rozhenko, also known as Alexander, Son of Worf, of the House Mogh (later House Martok).
- The Trope Namer is The Melting Pot, a 1908 play by Israel Zangwill, in which David and Mendel Quixano have identifiably Jewish first names, but when a girl comes calling for "Mr. Quixano" (which could refer to either one), she is surprised to find out that the family is not Spanish.
- BIONICLE: In its first year (2001), the brand drew its character names, place names, and other terminology from a wide range of Polynesian languages. This led to some controversy over the use of Maori names, and in 2003 some of these original names were changed to My Nayme Is variants. But 2003 also introduced Loads and Loads of Characters in the Mata Nui Online Game II, who had Meaningful Names coming from even more diverse global languages. Examples include Nixie (English), Pelagia (Latin), Taiki (Japanese), Tehuti (Egyptian), Kalama (Hawaiian), and Pakastaa (Finnish).
- Fire Emblem Tellius: In Daien alone, there are names like Micaiah (Hebrew), Nolan (Irish), Leonardo (Italian), Meg, Edward, Jill (English), and Izuka (Japanese).
- The English translation of Pokémon has this because the translators have an obsession with giving everyone Meaningful / Punny Names, so they'll go with whatever makes the best pun rather than the most consistency. (e.g. Bianca (Italian), Cheren (Bulgarian), Volkner (German), Cyrus (Persian), Amanita (Spanish), Rood (Dutch), Bronius (Latin), Giallo (Italian again), Ryoku (Japanese), Gorm (Gaelic), Zinzolin (French), etc.)
- Can happen in The Sims 2 with townies and NPCs (because their names are picked at random), causing names such as Abhjeet Copur.
- Sora No Kiseki has Scherazard Harvey.
- In Analogue: A Hate Story and its sequel Hate Plus, the Mugunghwa is a Korean Generation Ship, so natually it boasts an all-Korean population with Korean names. One of the noble families is known as the Smith family, yet it's still composed of those of Korean lineage.
- The naming conventions for the trolls in Homestuck are absolutely all over the place. Generally speaking, the individual characters were named with symbolism in mind rather than any consistent pattern, leading to an incredibly eclectic mix. The majority are derived from either Sanskrit or Latin, but then we have Megido (Hebrew), Leijon (Swedish), Maryam (Arabic), Terezi (Azeri), Zahaak (Farsi), Gamzee (Turkish), and Peixes (Portuguese). And then there's the Cherubs, in which we have a brother and sister whose names are Latinized Welsh and Greek respectively.
- This is the case in Tasakeru, where each of the eight sentient species has their own culture and naming customs.
- In Avatar: The Last Airbender, the Water Tribes generally have vaguely Eskimo-sounding names, but there's also a couple like Yue (Chinese). Earth Kingdom has names like Bumi (Indonesian), Jet, Long Feng (Chinese), Haru, Suki (Japanese), Song (Korean), Toph (Hebrew), and Koko (French), though the Earth Kingdom does happen to be much bigger than any of the other nations. Fire Nation gives us names like Roku, Iroh, Mai (Japanese), Lu Ten, Ty Lee, Li, Luo (Chinese), and even a couple of Latin-derived names (Ursa, Azula).
- The Legend of Korra follows on from this. Korra is a My Nayme Is variant of Cora. The "fabulous bending brothers" are Mako (firebender, Japanese) and Bolin (earthbender, Chinese). Hiroshi Sato and his daughter Asami have Japanese names and are descended from Fire Nation colonists, which may also be the case for Shiro Shinobi. Korra's parents Tonraq and Senna have Eskimo names, as does Narook the noodle-shop owner. Tenzin is Tibetan (a Shout-Out to the Dalai Lama), as is Pema. Jinora comes from Sanskrit "Jinorasa." Ikki is Uzbek for "two." Butakha is Indonesian for "bald." Lin Beifong is Chinese. Saikhan is Mongol. Hasook is Korean. Amon is Egyptian. Tarrlok is Irish made to look Eskimo. And "Lightning Bolt" Zolt is odd—the only name close to Zolt in the real world is the Hungarian name "Zoltan." This is the result of people from all over the world coming together in Republic City.
- In The Simpsons, Marge and her sisters combine Anglo-American first names (Patty, Selma, and Marjorie) with a French (maiden) surname (Bouvier).
- Naturally, in The United States or any other country with immigration or native ethnic minorities, it is quite common for a person to have a first name deriving from a completely different language than their last name. Among The Presidents, the clearest example is Dwight D. Eisenhower, whose first name is emphatically whitebread English but whose last name is so German it practically demands the speaker to immediately consume Bratwurst on rye with doppelbock to wash it down. And to think this was the man who defeated Nazism!
- The phenomenon also occurs in many other countries. For instance, take three former German football internationals: Reinhard "Stan" Libuda, Ernst Kuzorra, Pierre Littbarski, Jürgen Grabowski, Horst Hrubesch, Jimmy Hartwig (son of an American soldier and a German mother). Or the top-scoring submarine captain of World War One, Lothar von Arnauld de la Périère, the World War Two flying ace Hans-Joachim Marseille, and the cousins Lothar and (Karl Ernst) Thomas de Mazière (final and only freely-elected leader of East Germany and Defense Minister under/confidant of Angela Merkel, respectively), descendants of French Huguenots forced to emigrate to Germany in the 17th and 18th centuries.
- Many Chinese people in English-speaking countries adopt an English given name, which may or may not be part of their legal name, but keep their real family name, leading to combinations like Donald Tsang or Josephine Ng.
- Jewish Israelis who were born in Israel have almost universally Hebrew-language first names, which are generally updated with every new secular generationnote Their last names, however, differ significantly according to their family’s country of origin: Ashkenazi Jews often have Germanic/Yiddish or Slavic last names, Sephardic Jews have either Arabic or Spanish onesnote , Mizrakhis have Arabic ones, Ethiopians have Amharic ones, and so on.note
- Assimilated Jews in European countries on the other hand often gave their children European given names, which could end up in combination with family name rooted in Hebrew or Yiddish (like Cohen, Kohn, Katz, Shapiro, Dreyfus etc.) or from a different European tradition. For instance, before he converted to Christianity, the poet Heinrich Heine was called Harry, after a British business-partner and friend of his father. (Combinations of a Hebrew first name with a "local" surname could also occur, as with Heinrich's uncle, the banker and philanthropist Salomon Heine.) Some non-Jewish given names became so popular with Jews that they came to be seen as stereotypically Jewish, especially Isidor (or Isadore, "gift of Isis"), but also Bernard, Sigmund and Siegfried.
- A very good example is the name of the composer Felix Mendelssohn Bartholdy. "Felix" is Latin, "Mendelssohn" is a German patronymic ("Sohn" means "son") based on a Hebrew or Yiddish name (a variant of "Menahem"), and Bartholdy (a name Felix's father Abraham adopted on his conversion to Protestant Christianity) is a Latin patronymic based on a German name.
- Thanks to the spread of Christianity, many Biblical (mostly Hebrew and Aramaic) and Saints' names (mainly but not exclusively Greek and Latin) entered into different cultures, some even becoming some of the most common given names in various countries to which they originally had been foreign, e. g. the various forms of Miriam (Mary),note Hanna (Ann), Yochanaan (John), David, and Petros (Peter) for the former, and those of Barbara, Katharina (Catherine), Martinus (Martin), Nikolaos (Nicholas), Franciscus (Francis) for the latter.
- The Midwestern restaurant chain Carlos O'Kelly's. They do serve Mexican food, but no Irish cuisine. Furthermore, they were founded by an American family with the English surname Rolph.