'Sergei' or 'Sergey'

I have the misfortune of having this first name and after 20 years of experimenting I still haven't found the spelling that people in US and Canada could pronounce and spell with few problems! I left Russia when FRENCH was the transliteration language in documents, so my first name was spelt "SERGUEI" in my passport. No one can spell that here and I mostly use 'Sergey' as this is how it was spelt on my US Visa back when I lived in Russia. The US official told me then they didn't care how the name was spelt in English in my Russian 'foreign' passport and that 'Sergey' was how they did it.

Recently I've been noticing that 'Sergey' is kind of obsolete and is used when referring to people living in earlier times. 'Sergei' is the more modern way and is actually closer to the Library of Congress rules.

I"m not going to even say much about spelling of my last name which has 'TCH' in it! Curiously enough I live near Kitchener Ontario Canada and somehow local people have no problem with saying and spelling kiTCHener but once I tell them my last name which has TCH (Russian Ч) in the middle, they freak out!

So, I guess the question I'm asking in this super long post (sorry!) is this: should I call myself 'Sergei' or "Sergey" and how shall I spell the Russian Ч in my last name: as TCH or simply as CH. My last name is **ATCHE*. Interestingly enough, guys who immigrated to Canada after me - when ENGLISH was used for transliteration have totally different spelling in their documents. I know a guy named TKACHEV and that's exactly how his name is spelt in his passport because he immigrated after 2000. He would have been TKATCHEV had he immigrated earlier.
 
  • morzh

    Banned
    USA
    Russian
    1. There are no spelling rules in English when it comes to foreign last names. Everyone spells (at least here in the US) any way he wants.

    For instance, a person with name "Карлицкий" is spelled "Karlicky" which, read back, will yield "Карлики".
    Your last name I would spell as "Tkachyov" (as you have "ё" In there and it is stressed).

    2. I would not use name "Sergey" in English, as together with Yakov it sounds bad, and is used to tease people (especially with kids). I would change it for "Serge" which is French / European version of the same name.
    Should you still want "Sergey" - this is how it is spelled.
     
    What about 'SERGEI'? When I was talking to a US recruiter at the trucking company I work for now and she saw my name was spelt SERGUEI, she started calling me SERGIE over the phone. When I asked what first name I should use (Serge, Sergei, Sergey, Serguei), the recruiter said, "I like SERGIE" ;) I actually like it too - it sounds like Seryozha or СЕРЕЖА. I remember that my Mom would always call me СЕРГЕЙ (Sergey) when she was angry with me, and СЕРЕЖА (Seriozha) when she was in a good mood ;)
     

    morzh

    Banned
    USA
    Russian
    What about 'SERGEI'?

    It is up to you. You are a big boy now - you can decide which way you like to see it spelled, and which way you like it to sound.

    For instance, when I got out of the USSR, my name was spelled exactly like Gorbachev's - Mikhail. I did not like it, it did not sound anything close to how it was pronounced in Russian, and I already was going by "Mike", so, when given a chance (getting citizenship - you can change the name right there on the spot without any other legal actions), I simply made it "Michael".

    As long as you like the sound, spell it any way you want, just make sure that the rest of the folks will pronounce it correctly the first time. English is know for allowing any word to be read in multiple ways, but the first time people try to use some rules (however scarce and murky), and only when corrected, will pronounce it the way you want.
     
    As long as you like the sound, spell it any way you want, just make sure that the rest of the folks will pronounce it correctly the first time.

    You're lucky to have a name that is common both in US and Russia! Mike, Alex, Kate, George (Georgiy) ... these names need very little 'modding' to be accepted here. I used to work here with a guy named 'Igor' (he was from Moldova). Some local folks actually made jokes about his name because of the 2008 animated movie by the same name.
     

    LilianaB

    Banned
    Lithuanian
    Why a misfortune, it is a beautiful name. I would spell it Sergey, because this way it is pronounced right.I mostly see it spelled this way in the US.
     

    ahvalj

    Senior Member
    Let's look at this situation from the opposite side: why should you care how somebody mispronounces your name or surname? Those familiar with you will eventually do it right, especially if you can insist. My surname is hardly pronounceable in any human language, and still any foreign person who needs to address me, learns how to do it (though, honestly, not so many need to, but that's another story). From my personal perspective, changing the name to accommodate it to the habits of the locals is a little bit tasteless, and when some Курбанбабай Алимаджонович becomes Константин Александрович, it causes no less dissonance anyway when you see him personally and hear him speaking. As they sing, «не стоит прогибаться под изменчивый мир, пусть лучше он прогнётся под нас».
     

    Syline

    Senior Member
    Russian
    I know that "Сергей" is traditionally spelled "Sergey" in English. As for pronunciation, why bother so much? It is a beautiful Russian name, so teach people to pronounce it properly, the way it's pronounced in Russian, corrected to the English phonetics, of course.
     

    Maroseika

    Moderator
    Russian
    Instead of teaching people, why not writing it such a way that it would be spelled correct just according with the rules?
    If only this is possible, of course.
     

    LilianaB

    Banned
    Lithuanian
    I personally think it should be just transcribed from the Cyrillic into the Latin alphabet, that's all. People should be taught then how to pronounce it.
     
    Why not Serguey? It cannot be misspelled if read according to the rules, while Sergey can be read Sɜːdʒi.

    'Serguei' then makes more sense. The 'U' after the 'G' makes people say it as 'GG' and not "DJ". Check out 'GUEST' but 'GESTURE'; 'GUESS' but 'GEM'. So, 'G' plus 'U' makes it 'G'. This is how my name was originally spelled in my Russian 'foreign' passport when I was leaving Russia in 1997: SERGUEI.
     

    Albertovna

    Senior Member
    Russian - Russia
    Transliteration systems are numerous. I like that by MAIK "Nauka" Interperiodica:
    a, b, v, g, d, e (for е, ё), zh, z, i (и, й), k, l, m, n, o, p, r, s, t, u, f, kh, ts, ch, sh, shch, " (ъ), y, ' (ь), e, yu, ya
    So, Sergei **ache*.
    As regards the pronunciation of the first name, I am for Serge, Sergie, and Serezha. Sergei sounds not very good.
     
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    Just compare how many words in English end on "i" vs. "y".

    Agreed. Most English words that end with a 'i' sound, use 'Y' letter, not 'I'. "Day", 'May", "Ray". Usually if you see an 'I' at the end, there will be an 'AI' sound somewhere. I agree with American passport clerk who issued me the US Visa back in 1995 in Moscow, RUSSIA. They spelled it as 'SERGEY'.
     
    Transliteration systems are numerous. I like that by MAIK "Nauka" Interperiodica:
    a, b, v, g, d, e (for е, ё), zh, z, i (и, й), k, l, m, n, o, p, r, s, t, u, f, kh, ts, ch, sh, shch, " (ъ), y, ' (ь), e, yu, ya
    So, Sergei **ache*.
    As regards the pronunciation of the first name, I am for Serge and Sergie. Sergei sounds not very good.

    I remember visiting Herbalife offices near London in UK once as 'consultant/translator' back in 90ies. The office girls were being very polite and did their best saying my first name close to what it sounds in Russian (Sergei). I saw them struggling though and I said, "If it's easier, you can call me 'SERGE'." You should have seen the relief on their faces ;) They understood 'Serge'; they didn't understand 'Sergei'. After all, France is a stone's throw away from them, and 'Serge' is a known French name.
     
    From my personal perspective, changing the name to accommodate it to the habits of the locals is a little bit tasteless...

    Believe it or not guys, I tried it :) I was so disillusioned with Russia when I left for Canada in 1997, that I decided to distance myself as much as possible from the country, its language, and its culture. So I looked online for some advice and found this site. For a fee they offer to help you select a 'balanced' name, something that fits you better than your original name - from the point of view of Kabalarian philosophy. So I became ... 'Zayne'. Changed all my documents and everything. Well, it didn't work. First of all, most people would spell it as 'Zane', and then they would look at my Russian mug and start wondering why a European looking guy has a Muslim name ;) So, I used it for a year and a half and then paid another 200 bucks to the Government to change it back. For some reason I changed it back to the way it was originally spelled: Serguei. So, no - choosing a name that would be easier to say doesn't work. You have to stay who you are.

    Having said that, note that SECOND GENERATION immigrants (those who are born in US and Canada) rarely use a native first name; they keep the weird family name :) but the parents give them a typical American first name. Eg: Mark Zhong or Steve Rabinovich or Mary Volkov.
     

    Maroseika

    Moderator
    Russian
    So is it that Serguey is the most appropriate variant? I mean will it be spelled by any English native as Сергей if he just follows English spelling rules?
     

    Syline

    Senior Member
    Russian
    The first syllable - yes. The second one is suggestive of... erm... :(
    У вас и в русском Сергей ассоциируется с геем?
    Причем, хочется заметить, что в английском языке это слово пишется: gay, в то время, как в русском - стопроцентное совпадение по буквам. И ниче, имя пользуется популярностью в России.
     
    I think Sergey sounds very good, but I do not like most nicknames.

    I worked in real estate in Moscow when I lived there and I once met an American named ... Sergey Riabokobylko. His parents immigrated and he grew up in US but then he came back as American and started a real estate brokerage. He's a big shot over there now (google the name and see) which shows that even extremely unusual names (by US and Canadian standards) cannot hinder a motivated person.
     
    So is it that Serguey is the most appropriate variant? I mean will it be spelled by any English native as Сергей if he just follows English spelling rules?

    I'll try to experiment at the Starbucks today... You know when they ask, "May I have your name, sir?" Instead of my usual '007', I'll say "Sergey" and then check the cup to see how they spelled it ;)
     

    Albertovna

    Senior Member
    Russian - Russia
    Причем, хочется заметить, что в английском языке это слово пишется: gay, в то время, как в русском - стопроцентное совпадение по буквам.
    Вот. Пишется. А я говорю о произношении, о созвучии. Для англосаксов также неприятны имена Настя (созвучно с nasty "противный") и Яков (yuk "фу").
     

    LilianaB

    Banned
    Lithuanian
    I do not think so. I cannot talk for everybody, but Nastassja is a very nice name, quite admired in the US. There is nothing wrong with Yakov, a very popular name among Jewish people mostly, in New York.
     

    Syline

    Senior Member
    Russian
    Вот. Пишется. А я говорю о произношении, о созвучии. Для англосаксов также неприятны имена Настя (созвучно с nasty "противный") и Яков (yuk "фу").
    Так а в русском "-гей" в "Сергей" вы произносите как-то по другому, нежели слово "гей"? Нет созвучия?

    А вообще, ерунда все это. Если то же имя Настя будет восприниматься англосаксами не иначе как русское имя, то всякие левые ассоциации будет настолько несущественны, что никто даже мысленно не заострит на них внимание.
     

    Maroseika

    Moderator
    Russian
    Если то же имя Настя будет восприниматься англосаксами не иначе как русское имя, то всякие левые ассоциации будет настолько несущественны, что никто даже мысленно не заострит на них внимание.

    Как сказать. Имя Сруль вряд ли способно не привлечь внимания носителя русского языка, даром что не воспринимается как русское.
     

    ahvalj

    Senior Member
    Well, in Russia during many decades English or English-sounding names with "j" and "ch" are popular among dog owners for their pets. Does this imply that a person from an English-speaking country when living here should modify his or her name to avoid confusion? I think it only depends on the degree the person percepts him/herself as a self-sufficient individuality.
     

    morzh

    Banned
    USA
    Russian
    Так а в русском "-гей" в "Сергей" вы произносите как-то по другому, нежели слово "гей"? Нет созвучия?

    А вообще, ерунда все это. Если то же имя Настя будет восприниматься англосаксами не иначе как русское имя, то всякие левые ассоциации будет настолько несущественны, что никто даже мысленно не заострит на них внимание.


    You may or may not know it, but there are problems with certain names in any language.
    In particular, in English such names from Russian are "Sergey" and "Yakov". "Sergey" sounds close to "sir gay", and "Yakov" somehow (do not know how, but when I was told that I ran it by some Americans and they confirmed it) associates with "jerk off".
     

    morzh

    Banned
    USA
    Russian
    I do not think so. I cannot talk for everybody, but Nastassja is a very nice name, quite admired in the US. There is nothing wrong with Yakov, a very popular name among Jewish people mostly, in New York.

    There is a problem with Yakov. I myself did not believe it until I asked around.
     

    rusita preciosa

    Modus forendi
    Russian (Moscow)
    Well, luckily, you can have one name in the documents and go by another one. I am Ekaterina and I go by Katia (I really like it + it is a bit more palatable for locals). Katia is the name that is on my business cards, medical records, resume, voicemail etc... If someone asks about the difference, I usually say "it's like Robert and Bob" and people are quite satisfied with that explanation. So you can easily be officially Serguei and go by Serge in everyday life.

    I think it only depends on the degree the person percepts him/herself as a self-sufficient individuality.
    It tells me that you have absolutely no personal experience of leaving with a different name every single day of your life. Katia is an easy name, right? Well, I heard it all: Kатия, Кэтийя, Kатайя, Kотэя (latter being probably the most exotic one). Most of the time I have to say it twice and still need to spell it. It really gets old after a while. So, my system is: if I do not care how the person pronounces my name (hairdresser, Starbucks, restaurant reservation etc…), then I’m Kate. If I do care, I make an effort so that the person learns the proper pronunciation.

    Honestly, if in an English-speaking country I had a name like Yakov (yak / jack-off), Nastya/Anastassia (nasty, anesthesia), Oksana (ox), I would change it without thinking a second - everyday struggle is just not worth the... (whatever the value of an appellation someone else randomly selected at your birth).
     
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    There is a problem with Yakov. I myself did not believe it until I asked around.

    Wait a sec... Maybe that's why I see more 'Sergei's. When it's spelled like that, it might help people NOT to associate it with 'gay' (which happens when you spell it as 'Sergey'). The pic below shows the grave of Sergei Rachmaninoff and how his name is spelled ;)

    . Grave_of_Sergei_Rachmaninoff.jpg
     

    morzh

    Banned
    USA
    Russian
    Wait a sec... Maybe that's why I see more 'Sergei's. When it's spelled like that, it might help people NOT to associate it with 'gay' (which happens when you spell it as 'Sergey'). The pic below shows the grave of Sergei Rachmaninoff and how his name is spelled ;)

    .

    Well, what matters more is how it sounds vs. how it is spelled.

    PS. Actually, if someone did not know how to red "Sergei" he would read it as "Ser-dzhey" or even "Ser-dzhee-eye".
    Luckily, Am. English is liberal this way.
     

    gvozd

    Senior Member
    Русский
    Во рассусолили... Этак с любым именем заморочки будут. Вряд ли я буду жить за границей, но, допустим, если я попаду в подобную ситуацию, как быть мне? Иван-Ivan-John? Айвэном быть прикольно, наверное:D
     

    LilianaB

    Banned
    Lithuanian
    I think it should be Sergey, because Sergei changes the pronunciation of the name to short i, I do not know how to explain it better.There is nothing about gay in the name spelled Sergey. Plus more intelligent people in the English speaking world know that it is a Russian name, if they know Sergey Rachmaninoff.
     
    Пообщайся в иностранной среде и тебе быстро надоест как англо-говорящие коверкают твое русское имя. А "Иван" я бы попробовал писать VANYUSHA или VANYA чисто чтобы поржать с их реакции. Китайцы давно на это дело рукой махнули. У меня есть приятель настоящее имя которого Xingzhi. Фамилия - SUN. Так он везде (и на работе и с друзьями) обзывает себя MARK.
     
    I think it should be Sergey, because Sergei changes the pronunciation of the name to short i, I do not know how to explain it better.There is nothing about gay in the name spelled Sergey. Plus more intelligent people in the English speaking world know that it is a Russian name, if they know Sergey Rachmaninoff.

    Well, actually it's "SERGEI RACHMANINOFF". He became a US citizen shortly before his death and that's how his name is spelled in Wikipedia AND on his tomb stone.
     

    gvozd

    Senior Member
    Русский
    Пообщайся в иностранной среде и тебе быстро надоест как англо-говорящие коверкают твое русское имя.

    Чтобы они его не коверкали, Вам придется обучить англоговорящих русскому произношению. В английском и русском нет ни одного одинакового звука. Ну или почти ни одного.
     

    LilianaB

    Banned
    Lithuanian
    See, in New York there are a lot of Jewish people and I think this is why people perceive this name fist of all as a Biblical name and only then as something else. I do not know in fact, but this is my impression.
     
    Well, luckily, you can have one name in the documents and go by another one.

    Yeah, I know. That's the beauty of living in the West. No one cares how you call yourself and if it's the same name as in your documents. I knew one Italian guy (second generation immigrant). He was born in Canada but his parents decided to keep up the traditions and called him "Corrado". Guess what? He goes by the name 'Charlie'. This is the name on his business cards, voice mail, resume etc. His driver's license says 'Corrado'.

    You can even ask your bank to make a note of your new 'name' (or new spelling) in the file so that people can write checks using your new 'identity'. My bank has all my variants: Sergei, Sergey, Serguei. I'm thinking of adding 'Ray' or 'Max' to the mix :)
     

    LilianaB

    Banned
    Lithuanian
    I have never had any problems with my name in the United States. I had more problems in Europe. I think my mother took it from an American movie, but it was supposed to be spelled without the a, I like it this way, however.
     
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