Any day now one of the most esteemed records in professional sports, the Japanese single-season home run mark, will be toppled by a man whose name nobody can pronounce. This seems to be a recurring problem with people from Wladimir Balentien’s native Curaçao. It is almost as though these people want to discourage immigrants through sheer linguistic perversity. Even if you can master the name of the country itself, you get there and you have to make friends with folks named Andrelton Simmons and Jair Jurrjens and Hensley Meulens and Jonathan Schoop. Scanning the names of some “famous” non-baseballing Curaçaoans only reinforces the suspicion: consider Riechedly Bazoer, Angelo Cijntje, and Ruelly Etienne-Winklaar. These are names that sound like regular names from around the world, if regular names were torn into pieces, put into a hat, shaken thoroughly, and reconstituted by small children.
Fortunately, this has irritated me enough that I have, through dogged effort, at last cracked the Curaçaoan code and deciphered the rules by which parents on this twisted island christen their offspring. I present it to you now, so that you, too, may have an authentic Curaçaoan name with which to torment your future acquaintances.
1. Begin with your own, existing, perfectly adequate name.
2. Remove one letter at random.
3. If your name contains an “s,” replace it with “sch.”
4. Insert one “j” or “w” in your name at a position of aesthetic felicity.
5. Select one of the following changes to make to your first name:
– Append either “elton” or “ickson.” If your name is one syllable, simply add the suffix to the end. If more than one, replace the final syllable, starting with its first vowel.
– Take the first consonant and the first vowel of the name and repeat it. E.g., “Brad” becomes “Baba.”
– Append either “ly” or “ley.”
6. Select one of the following changes to make to your last name:
– Append one of the following: “a,” “ius,” or “ens.”
– Take one vowel and double it. E.g., “Jones” becomes “Joones.”
7. If still dissatisfied, cut one syllable from either name and insert it randomly into the other.
My own Curaçaoan name is Matthelton Schmijtens. I expect to hear from you in the comments.
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