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Who is John Doe in Spain? in Russia? in France?

Susan Dunn, MA -- What's in a name? In many languages, plenty! has compiled a really interesting list of what other countries use for the US "John Doe" or "Joe Blow." Here are some of the entries people have sent in. I direct you to the site for others, and to add ones not there!

I thought it was really interesting how some of the people mentioned series of three names. What's that like in the US? Larry, Curly, and Moe?

1. Afrikanns (South Africa): In Afrikanns, an indigenous language of South Africa derived mainly from Dutch, the anonymous person is most often "Koos van der Merwe." Koos is the short form of Jacobus, which is a variant of Jacob. -- Courtesy of Hans Pietersen

2. English (Australian): Fred Nurk, as in "afraid not" in a deep Aussie accent. Joe Farnarkle is another, a farnarkler is a b****** artist. -- Courtesy of Jeremy Ham

3. Italian: The Italian equivalent of John Doe is Mario Rossi. It is the most common name, so it is often used to indicate an average person.

To refer to unknown people, we use Tizio, Caio, and Sempronio. Tizio is always the first one, and you use the other two (in that order) if you need more than one. A bit like Fulano/Mengano/Sultano in Spanish, I guess. Some use Filano (obviously related to the Spanish Fulano) together with the other three.

Another generic name is Pinco Pallino, although this would never be used in formal situations. -- Courtesy of Stefano J. Attardi

4. Malay: Si Anu. "Anu" has the same connotation as the British "thingy" as in the word "thingamajig." "Si" is a word used in front of a first name, which is used in street talk when referring to someone, e.g. "Si Ahmad," "Si Nora," etc.-- Courtesy of Jas Emmar

5. Russian: In Runet (that's how we call Russian Internet) the informal name for an anonymous person is Vasya Pupkin, pronounced in English like vARs'a pOOp-kinn (' indicating a soft consonant); if I transcribed the surname for a French-speaking one, I'd write "Poupkine." Vasya Pupkin is also a name for a "lamer," a tech-ignorant but very pretentious young hacker. Also, a traditional way to list a group of anonymous people is "Ivanov, Petrov, Sidorov" (three common surnames, pronounced like EE-vah-nuf, pEEt-ruf, sEEduh-ruf). This tradition precedes Internet by many years. -- Courtesy of Kirill Manucharov

6. Norwegian: formally "N.N.," short for "nomen nescio," Latin for "I don't know the name." Informally, Ola (m.) and Kari (f.) Nordmann. Ola and Kari Dunk are stupid/redneck Norwegians. -- Courtesy of John Cowan and Omar El Vikingo

7. Spanish: uses N.N. also. Informally, the names Fulano, Mengano, Zutano/Sultano, Perengano, and Perencejo are used. Fulano is always the first one, but when you need to name two or more, then the other names come, and, generally, in that order, with Perengano being the last one. Fulano's full name is Fulano de Tal, and is used when you want to state first and last name of anyone. These change to "-ana" for women. Other names are Juan Perez, Pablo Perez, Juan de los Palotes ("of the big sticks," who knows why). -- Courtesy of John Cowan and Omar El Vikingo

8. Turkish: In the urban usage we don't have any John Doe as far as I know (maybe Ahmet-Mehmet, a common Turkish name), but Turkish villagers use "Sarý Cizmeli Mehmet Aga" (Chief Mehmet the Yellow Booted) in a more humorous way. As in: "Sarý Cizmeli Mehmet Aga will pay the bill someday." -- Courtesy of Baris Purut

9. Japanese: In Japan, the name Nanashi No Gombe is used as a joke when a person forgets to write their name on an application or a test, etc. Loosely translated it means No-Name Gombe and it1s an inference on the stupidity of a person for forgetting their name. -- Courtesy of NYD

10. French (Canadian): In French Canada (Quebec) one name used is "Jos Bleau" (pronounced "Joe Blow"). In France one uses Jean Dupont. -- Courtesy of Allan Simon. France: Michel Dupont -- Courtesy of Alex Bedard

Susan Dunn, MA, The EQ Coach, offers coaching around emotional intelligence for career, relationship, resilience, and personal and professional development. Visit her site at: or contact her at: for her free ezine.

© 2004 Susan Dunn

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