Naturalized Name

In the past, when a person moved to another country, it was common for that person to change their name to one that country would find "normal". While less common today, this was once very much Truth in Television. Still common in fiction that takes place in these time periods.


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  • Watchmen's Sally Jupiter, from the Polish "Juspeczyk".
  • The Martian Manhunter adapted the very generic John Jones from the Martian J'onn Jonzz.
  • The original name of Starfire of the Teen Titans is Kori'ander. When she got to Earth, she adopted the name Kory Anders.
  • In The Punisher, it has been stated that Frank Castle's original surname was "Castiglione".
  • Werewolf by Night: Jack's stepfather changed his last name from Russoff to Russell after moving from Romania to the United States. This caused Jack's own name to be Americanized as well: his original last name was also Russoff, because his stepfather is his late father's brother (a.k.a. his uncle).

    Fan Works 
  • In the Kim Possible fanfic Reunion Ron Stoppable mentions his great-grandfather Nicholai, who was so determined to emigrate to America that, when he arrived at Ellis Island, he shouted, "I am Nicholai! I am unstoppable!" The clerk wrote his name down as "N. Stoppable".
    Ron: He thought that's how America worked; come to America, you get a new life and a new name. He was actually very proud of it. So we've been Stoppables ever since.

  • Slightly related - In the flashback sequences of The Godfather Part II, Vito Andolini from the town of Corleone is listed as Vito Corleone due to a mixup at a hectic Ellis Island.
  • Alien Nation. The Newcomers were given Earth names when they arrived. Some of the names were famous humans (Rudyard Kipling) and some were jokes (Sam Francisco).
  • In Back to the Future Part III, it's revealed that Doc Brown's father had their name naturalized from Von Braun because of the world war.
  • In Dr. Strangelove, the titular character is a German immigrant. When someone mentions that the name "Strangelove" doesn't really sound German, another character reveals that it was originally "Merkwürdigliebe" (literally means "strange love"), but he anglicized it after moving to the US.
  • The Untouchables: George Stone's birth name is Giuseppe Petri, almost a direct translation ("Petri" is close to pietre, Italian for "stones", but Giuseppe's English equivalent is traditionally Joseph, not George).

  • In Dirk Gently's Holistic Detective Agency by Douglas Adams, Dirk Gently was actually born "Svlad Cjelli".
  • Toni Morrison's Song of Solomon features the "clerical error" variant in the protagonist's family history. The protagonist's grandfather Jake, who was born into slavery, had to register as an American citizen with the Freedmen's Bureau after the end of the American Civil War. Because the Freedmen's Bureau clerk was drunk at the time, he asked Jake his birthplace ("Macon, Virginia") and asked him his parents' current residence ("They're dead"), and accidentally wrote his answers down as his given name and surname — resulting in him being saddled with the Unfortunate Name "Macon Dead" for life.

    Video Games 
  • BioShock's Andrew Ryan from the Russian "Andrei Rianofski"
    • This is a reference to his Real Life inspiration, Ayn Rand, who was born Alisa Rosenbaum.
  • In Assassin's Creed III, Norris (A french-speaking canadian) reveals his real name is Maurice but that he changed it because no one in the American colonies could pronounce it properly.

    Western Animation 
  • In An American Tail, Fievel and Tanya are renamed Phillie and Tillie. Neither one takes, however.
  • Played for laughs in The Simpsons episode "Bart-Mangled Banner". After relocating to France, the Simpsons become homesick and travel back to America. When Homer states their family name to an official, the man changes it to "Simps". To really drive the point home, they arrived in New York by boat and were dressed in nineteenth century European clothes while "Coming to America" plays in the background.
    • Also parodied in "In the Name of the Grandfather", where Americans who are sick of America go to Ireland's "MacEllis Island" and have their names changed to stereotypical Irish names.

    Real Life 
  • When Arnold Schwarzenegger first started in Hollywood, the producers changed his name to Arnold Strong.
  • In World War One the British Royal Family changed its collective surname from Saxe-Coburg Gotha to Windsor. When H. G. Wells complained about Britain's "alien and uninspiring court," George V is said to have replied, "I may be uninspiring, but I'll be damned if I'm alien!"
  • Issur Danielovitch Demsky changed his name to Kirk Douglas.
  • Isaac Asimov was born Isaak Yudovich Ozimov. The name change didn't help much.
    • Interestingly, when his books were translated into Russian, his name was transliterated from English instead of using his birth name or translating it into the Russian equivalent.
  • Sam Raimi's family changed their name from the German "Reingewertz".
  • There is a story from Alsace-Lorraine which changed hands between Germany and France several times during the 19th and 20th century. Apparently, whenever the Germans took it, they forced everyone to translate their French names, while the French would simply pronounce the German names in the French way. Which allegedly lead to this: one family originally named Lagarde (watch[man]) became "Wache" when the Germans came; then "Vache" (cow) when the French came back; then "Kuh" and finally "Cul" (ass). And if the Germans had returned once more, they'd have become "Arsch".
  • Helen Mirren was born Helen Lydia Mironoff. Her grandfather was a Russian diplomat who got stranded in the UK during the Russian Revolution. In the 50s, her father changed his name from Vasiliy Mironov to Basil Mirren.
  • This Australian troper worked at a chicken processing factory with a High Turnover Rate. As many of the job applicants were Sri Lankans with Overly Long Names, they'd be given a short 'Australian' name as well. In another example, some Korean nurses had given themselves Australian first names, but appeared to have selected them from a list as they all began with the letter A.