Whatever we call them, it seems that every culture has its own version, each with its own peculiarities.
We know them as ‘John Doe’ in the United States: do you remember that cable series that came then disappeared without a lot of fanfare? Sometimes we call them ‘John Smith’, and here we remember the famous explorer. Whatever we call them, it seems that every culture has its own version, each with its own peculiarities.
Among other things, they’re known as Juan Perez, N.N. or fulano de tal in the Spanish speaking world. In actual fact, even though these names are probably the most common first and last names in Latin America, very few people know anyone with just those names, even though we’re inclined to use them when we refer to someone who has no specific identity.
The word fulano’ is from the Arabic fulan’, which translates to ‘so-and-so’.
In Arabic its feminine equivalent fulanah is pronounced the same as fulana (Spanish).
In Asia, the name Juan de la Cruz is used by the former Spanish Colony of the Philippines.
It’s Mario Rossi in Italy.
In Japan, the equivalent is Yamada Hanako for women and Yamada Taro for men, although they sometimes use Nanashi-no-Gombei, which translates roughly as ‘No name, so-and-so’.
They use Pinyin: Wúmíng Shi in China, which simply translates to ‘Mr/Mrs No Name’.
On the other hand, in India they have the less creative word naamalum – meaning ‘unknown’.
Leave it to the Dutch to jazz it up a bit! They’ve given it a bit of a rhyme, with their John Doe called Jan Jansen!
And the Bosnians have three options, all sounding quite lyrical: Petar Petrović, Marko Marković, and Sima Simić.
In Bulgaria they use Ivan Ivanov.
The French have the name Jean Dupont, and they also use Monsieur Tout-le-monde: when translated this means ‘Mr All-the-world’.
In Finland it’s the rather lengthy name Matti Meikäläinen, and
Let’s see if you can pronounce this German phrase for John Doe - Otto Normalverbraucher!
So, let’s go back again to the Spanish language. The interesting thing about all of this (which is actually a positive for anyone who has Pérez as their surname) is that Pérez is not even at the top of the list when it comes to common last names in Spanish-speaking countries: Rodríguez, Gómez, and González are actually ahead of Pérez. Meanwhile, in Argentina Juan is the most common name only: to be specific – Juan Carlos.