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''What's in a name? That which we call a rose by any other name would smell as sweet.'' - Shakespeare

Call Me Anything,
Just Don't Call Me Late For Dinner

My legal first name is Vytautas.

I tell people that (while the name may seem strange and rare) it is not, in fact, it's one of the most popular male first name in Lithuania. And, it comes from the duke ("Vytautas the Great") who ruled the country when it was at its largest, extending from the Baltic Sea to the Black Sea.


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Nickname "Vito"

I inherited my name and nickname from my father and grandfather. "Vito" is suppose to be more easily understood by Americans. Sometimes, it's not as easy as it looks.

Turns out, many people have little contact with people with my name or nickname, but they do have experience in civics class. They spell my name V-E-T-O.

Many people have a lot of experience with Italians, so to them, I suddenly become a paisano. This is especially true of east coast people. It was not uncommon, in the mid-80s, when I was in the U.S. Navy's Atlantic Fleet, that I would say my name was "Vito" and they would say (without any set-up) "Vito Antuofermo", the name of a then-active Italian-born, Brooklyn-residing middleweight boxer.

When it's realized that I am not Italian (perhaps, with a legal "Vittorio" name), I often get the he-wants-to-be-Italian label, and I try to enjoy my Italian-ness. When these people learn my last name, they tell me that, of course, I could not be an Italian, because my name does not end in a vowel. It's as if vowel ending names are the sign of authenticity. When President Vincas Kudirka's and Emperor Hirohito's childrens' children get the first name "Vito", these Italian proclaimers will have to get some other bona fide, other than the vowel remark. (Do I need to make a long list of none Italian surnames that end in vowels? How about Italian names that don't end in vowels?)

When my landsman friends learn that the diminutive form (like Johnny for Jonathan) of my legal name is "Vytukas", they go directly to dropping the first syllable. If you don't know why "Tukas" earns me a pinch in the caboose, then ask the nearest landsman. (If you need to ask what a "landsman" is, you're not one of them.)


It's Greek To Me

 

Do I Need To Illustrate The Confusion Over The Last Name?

Because so many of the Greek last names end in -kis or -kas, I'm asked if (Opaa!) my family is from Hellas.

It isn't, but I've spent plenty of time in Greektown on Halstead. (Does that count?)


America and Nationalities

 

I'm glad that I live in a country where (in the process of getting to know you) people find it natural to ask for someone's nationality. Also, where it is comfortable to answer. Even the stumbling misunderstanding around the answer is welcome, because it's all part of the process of getting to know each other.

What's your nationality?


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First Name Popularity

Examine the graph at the absolute bottom of this webpage. It represents the search popularity of the names (along with one word, in order of popularity) Vito, Vittorio, veto, Vytautas and Vytas, on the Google search engine.

If you click on the graph, you can sort the results by nation, city or language, along with getting links to recently created webpages with these terms.



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