Here are Tyler’s questions:
I was browsing your site and came across the name Oen, which I thought seemed like a unique way to spell Owen and I really liked it. I spoke about the name to some friends and was told by a dutch friend of mine that in dutch, Oen apparently means (and I kid you not, unfortunately) something along the lines of a castrated donkey, and is slang for moron and idiot, among other things.
I was just wondering what you thought the likelihood would be of an Oen being made fun of or potentially not being hired for jobs because of the translation? Do you know if there are a lot of names that mean something not-so-great after translation?
My heart sank when my friend told me, I really liked Oen.
According to Wiktionary, the Dutch word oen does indeed mean “castrated donkey” or “nincompoop, moron, dumb person.”
It doesn’t sound like Owen, though. Oen is a single-syllable word with a vowel sound that’s something like the oo of “took.”
Here are my thoughts on the name Oen:
Employment: Names that signal race/class can be problematic during a job hunt, but Oen doesn’t do this. It just happens to have an undesirable meaning in a non-English language. I doubt this would make it a barrier to employment.
Teasing: I think someone named Oen is more likely to be teased about the spelling of his name than an obscure translation. Names with more conspicuous negative associations like Mangina, Dudu, Phuc, Bich, Randy and Fanny are much riskier than Oen in this respect.
Spelling: Tyler didn’t mention spelling, but I think it’s an important issue. The name Oen will always have to be explained to people. “Owen without the w” is pretty simple as far as spelling explanations go, but saying it over and over again for an entire lifetime? Hm.
So that’s my take on Oen. I don’t think the Dutch translation is a big deal, but I do think the spelling could be.
Which version do you prefer, Owen or Oen? Why?
[Update: The poll is closed now. The final tally was: 48 votes for Owen, 22 votes for Oen.]