For new immigrants to Britain, adapting to the country isn't just about learning the language or getting used to the rain - it's increasingly about changing their names.
More than 300,000 migrants have moved to the United Kingdom in recent years, some with exotic names that are 13 letters long, making the desire for something simpler to pronounce and write on forms commonplace.
So commonplace in fact that UK Deed Poll Service, a company which allows people to legally change their name for as little as $70, has seen a huge surge in business - 40,000 name changes were made last year, up 20% from 2006.
The marketplace has even become competitive, with other companies muscling in on the name-change industry.
"We've got a big influx of migrants coming into this country, particularly from Eastern Europe," said Janet Chadwick, director of The Name Change Company, which says it has seen business boom in the past two years.
"We've seen quite a lot of name changes of people trying to anglicise their name because they have names which are very unpronounceable to the British tongue."
And when it comes to job applications, some believe that an unpronounceable name will work against them, Chadwick said.
Common changes include the Polish Aleksander to Alexander and Marta to Martha.
Immigrants from Asia and the Middle East have also picked up the trend, with Guang sometimes becoming Edward, Mohammed Michael and Karim Kevin.
Mike Barratt, the chief executive of UK Deed Poll Service, says the trend took off after the September 11, 2001, attacks on the United States, when people with Muslim names began changing them to avoid discrimination.
"People have been to the States and have had problems getting in because of immigration - because they had an Arabic sounding name," he said. [Link]
DNSI direct link 0 comments Email post: