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Thread: Legal status of your name

  1. #1

    Default Legal status of your name

    I know it's an odd question to be asking here, but I have a feeling it's trivial (for now). I can check my states legal website if need be. But read below, and tell me your opinion.

    You see, I'm a sophomore in high school. And my last name is Polish-Germanic. My grandfather when he registered as a US citizen many years ago transcribed it DIRECTLY from the Latin based German Alphabet.

    Therefore, it's not phonetic, and many people can't pronounce it worth a shit.

    Because of this, I nowadays change the first two letters of my last name from ZW to TSV in school at least. And I might later (or sooner), begin changing how I spell the last letters of my last name to something more phonetic.

    Question is, if doing this on a job application, officially kept document, or other such thing. Is it illegal?. Maybe I should wait to change my last name when I'm 18?

    And when I do that, can I possibly stipulate multiple spellings?.
    P.S. I live in the Northeast USA, if that's any help.

  2. #2


    You might wanna check with your local notary public or whatever the American equivalent is (court officer of some sort).

    But...I know in Canada you can only change your name legally after you turn 18, unless your family changes their your father changes his name thus changing his children's names (all children's full names must be included in the court documents).

    You can spell your name any way you like on things where it doesn't school papers (although not on your actual school record) and so on...but things like driver's license, passport and other legal documents would have to have your birth name (as it appears on your birth certificate).

    So...if my name is Ayanna Jane Smith (It's not but I'm using this as a reference point)...on non-essential papers I could spell it...say...Ayanna Jayne Smythe (simply because I really like the letter y)...but...I couldn't sign it that way at a bank or on court documents etc.

    Does that answer your question?

  3. #3


    I know there is a process you have to go thru to change your name leagaly, it involves getting leagal help.

  4. #4


    Why not just keep your name...Who cares if people can't pronounce it...People can't pronounce a lot of names...Why not just keep the uniqueness and what your family chose it to be...

  5. #5


    in situations like this im happy my last name is Jones

    My ansestores has some Polish, Irish, and other names, and they were all changed to basic names

  6. #6


    Changing your legal name is a complicated and costly process. Why would you go through all that trouble just so people can pronounce your name right when reading it off a sheet of paper?
    In fact, the United States is filled with people from different cultures and languages, and I would assume that people got used to weird or unpronouncable names. I've grown used to just saying and immediately spelling out my name to make it easier for people to write it down.
    Not everyone has a boring name like "Smith"...and even that wouldn't help you in Germany, because it comes in three varieties: "Schmid", "Schmidt", "Schmit". So you'd still get the usual question "With 'dt' at the end?".


  7. #7


    Yes, it is illegal to change your name on any legal documents.

  8. #8


    My surname is of German origins and I have the "AU" letter combination in it. Now, living in a natively English-speaking country where the name also contains the "AU" letter combination has really screwed things up. People here tend to pronounce my last name with a typical-English "aw" sound to it, just as how "Australia" is said. This is opposed to a typical-German "ow" sound for the same letter combination. I can only recall one time in my life where someone pronounced it right the first time they saw it.

    Aside from that though, when entering into all legal or financial agreements (like that with an employer), you need to provide the correct spelling of your name. I'm not entirely sure what the law is, but it could prove to be a hassle in the future.

  9. #9


    mothers maiden name neizgocki pronounced neezgoski,

  10. #10


    My last name is Polish, and we've been butchering the pronunciation of it for 100 years now. The spelling got butchered at Ellis Island. People can't read it, people can't say it, and I am not even sure of the correct pronunciation.

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