How does one go about taking a name (or word) from another language and making it an English name? I know of examples such as Yeshua being turned to Joshua or Yonatan turning into Jonathan, but I do not know the rule itself.

Edit: To help specify my question: I am trying to change is the Malayalam word for "Heart" (Hrdayarn) I want to use it as a name but it sounds just a little off.

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    The rule for Biblical names (like Yeshua and Yonatan) is to figure out which personage in the Bible you are named after, and then figure out what their name is in English Bibles. Commented Jan 30, 2019 at 1:04
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    There is no verbal rule. Each instance is treated separately.
    – Dan Bron
    Commented Jan 30, 2019 at 2:52
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    The question you ask is rather like asking how one common language, Latin, came to be reshaped into Italian, Spanish, Portuguese, French, Romanian, ... The issue has less to do with how words are written than with how they sound. In particular it is a matter of how a population with one phonetic range hears and pronounced a name from a population with a quite different phonetic range.
    – Tuffy
    Commented Jan 30, 2019 at 3:52
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    "How does one go about ...?" One doesn't. There exist equivalent English names.
    – Kris
    Commented Jan 30, 2019 at 7:08
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    Choosing a new name, whether created out of whole cloth, inspired by foreign languages, or just chosen from a name list, is very much an art. There's a lot of opinion involved, depending on how you want it to sound in the new language.
    – Mitch
    Commented Jul 29, 2019 at 14:29

2 Answers 2


A foreign word starting hr- with a vowel immediately following would be pronounced either by omitting the h entirely or by pronouncing that digraph χr-. But there is no easy way in English to pronounce three intial consonants like hrd-; we would probably have to insert a vowel sound, her.

The foreign word hrdayarn would be most likely to be pronounced /ˈhɜːdɑˌjɑːn/ or /ˈhɜːʳdɑˌjɑːʳn/, with the stress on the first syllable and the y as part of the last syllable (because that forms the recognisable word yarn). If that's an acceptable approximation, great! If not, and I guess that the consonant cluster hrd- should not in fact be stressed, then you will either need to choose a name which can be pronounced at least reasonably well by English speakers, or ensure that you introduce yourself so that your name can be heard and copied. While hr- will still need to be her-, /hɜː'dɑɪjən/ is a possibility.


Why not use a traditional English name for the first name, and the Malayalam name as a middle name?

For example, Cora means “little heart” in Latin, but it comes originally from the Greek goddess Persephone, which makes it a very strong name.

There are other choices, depending on what heart means to you. For example, there’s a site called mom365.com where you can search for names “by meaning”.

It’s difficult to know how children will react to the name they are given. However, if a name from an outside language is not easily pronounced by the child’s teachers and peers, it will be ruthlessly converted into something that can. So you may end up with an “English name” that’s not quite what you were hoping for.

  • I have thought about using other words for Heart, but I want it to sound like "Hrdayarn" Commented Jan 30, 2019 at 16:16
  • @InshalChenet The closest names that I can think of among people that I know personally are Darla for a girl or Dylan for a boy. Wishing you luck, anyway.
    – user205876
    Commented Jan 30, 2019 at 20:16

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