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Forms and Norms: Theorizing Immigration-Influenced Name Changes in Canada

Forms and Norms: Theorizing Immigration-Influenced Name Changes in Canada

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Title: Forms and Norms: Theorizing Immigration-Influenced Name Changes in Canada
Author: Dechief, Diane
Abstract: Canadian immigration and settlement practices have been altering individuals’ names since the mid-1800s.
From the common explanations of immigration officials engaging in novel orthography as they completed
forms, to families altering their names to make them easier for their neighbours to pronounce, a range of
dominant cultural influences were at work. Today, these forces continue; they are evident in such technobureaucratic
minutiae as maximum character lengths for permanent residents’ names, and in the decadelong
policy encouraging people with the religiously-significant Sikh names ‘Kaur’ and ‘Singh’ to remove
these names before applying to immigrate (CBC, July 2007). They are also heard in day-to-day
introductions as some newcomers choose to use common English or French names to present themselves,
and to potentially make themselves more employable (Ng et al., 2007).
With these and other scenarios in mind I ask, in what ways and through what means do minority
culture members and migrants to Canada change their names? What roles do legislation, policy and state
regulated data collection procedures have in these shifts? How are names altered through less official
interactions? What implications do these name changes have for Canada as a nation-state? What are the
outcomes in terms of nationalism or cultural pluralism?
Subject: Personal Names in Canada
Name Changes of Immigrants to Canada
Type: Article
Rights: The following articles are © 2009 with the individual authors. They are made available free of charge from this page as a service to the community under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution-Non Commercial-No Derivative Works license version 3.0. For full details go to http://creativecommons.org.licenses/ny-nd.3.0
URI: http://hdl.handle.net/10315/3645
Published: York University
Citation: Proceedings of the 23rd International Congress of Onomastic Sciences
ISBN: 978-1-55014-521-2
Date: 2009

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