The power of a name – working with international teams
Many people across the world have to live with online services that don’t care how they want to be greeted or how their name is written. We think that’s very unfair.
Names – and how we are named – are intensely tied to our personality, ethnicity and tradition. The internet actually quite seldom recognises this, and tries to force a Western naming pattern on everybody. If matters were reversed, I’d have to live with receiving emails with “Hello Lidne!” as the personalised greeting instead of “Hello Annika!”. A small thing you might think. It’s not.
The Westernised standard
Most forms on the web that asks you to leave your name, looks something like this:
It leaves no room for the initial that many Americans use to differentiate their name from other people, like actors Michael J. Fox or Michael C. Hall.
It also takes for granted that the first name comes first and is my given name, and that my last name comes last and is my family name. Not so in many Asian countries.
In China, a name like Mao Ze Dong, consists of the family name “Mao”, the generational name “Ze” shared by siblings, and the given name “Dong”. While not everyone have a generational name anymore, those who do, expect to be called by friends “Ze Dong”, not just “Dong”.
Meanwhile in India, there is a vast variety of combinations like
- “Kogaddu Birappa Timappa Nair” follows the order villageName-fathersName-givenName-lastName
- in Rajasthani, the name “Aditya Pratap Singh Chauhan” is composed of givenName-fathersName-surname-casteName
- and, in another part of India the name “Madurai Mani Iyer” represents townName-givenName-casteName
Most developers (at least in countries with Latin and Cyrillic alphabets) usually assumes that the first name in the form is your given name and use that to personalise greetings on the web and in transactional emails.
As you see in the examples, that assumption can end up being very, very wrong!
Names for official credits and nicknames
Meanwhile, in Spanish and Portugese speaking countries, names usually follows a Western standard order, but can be very long. It is common with names consisting of several given names as well as both your mother’s and your father’s family names like “José Eduardo Santos Tavares Melo Silva.”
In English and Scandinavian speaking countries it’s common to shorten a name, from “Katherine” to “Kate”, or from “Mikael” to “Micke”. In other countries like Thailand and Russia, many people have a separate preferred nickname used by friends and family.
Full name and “personal” name
At Dramatify, we must handle names correctly for credits and payroll, but with Dramatify’s social team features, it’s also nice to know what people prefers to be called by their team mates and also for us to greet them properly in emails and other communication.
To handle all of these various ways of using names, and get it right both for official credits and for close working relationships, we at Dramatify have chosen to have full name and “I’d like to be called” instead of the usual firstname / given name and last name / family name form fields.
Suddenly, users can decide how they want to be addressed, while getting their official full name correct.
To learn more about names all over the globe, and how to handle them digitallt, read the W3C schools article that inspired Dramatify’s naming convention.