The Naming Game

Presenting yourself on the internet can be rather complicated. Especially when you add the factor of a multilanguage website.  Domain name availability, the ability to pronounce / spell a name are all factors.

Recently I’ve put what I believe to be the final touches (for now, at least) on my personal website setup.  Originally, I went with one domain name and a subdomain for English speakers. It looked something like this:


That’s all fine and well…. In an English-speaking setting. No one would have problems spelling “mike”, “Walsh” is tough to screw up, and despite “el” being from Spanish, most English speakers would get the idea.

Unfortunately, in a Spanish-speaking content, it’s not so easy. Here’s the pitfalls I experienced:

  • Mike:  In Chile at least, you get “Maik”, “Maikol" or “Mike”.  So there’s a 1 in 3 chance that part will be spelled correctly.
  • Walsh: Spanish (and other Romance languages) have a nice flow of consonants and vowels.  My last name does not. So about 100% of the time it is reduced to spelling it out.
  • El: No problems in Spanish land with this one.

So, having to spell out m-i-k-e-w-a-l-s-h to share my domain name or email address sucks.  Especially by phone.

Good test for choosing your name/email/whatever btw - if you can say it in a phone conversation and the other person can note it, you’re doing well.

Here’s how I got around it:

  1. I have two separate domain names  - it’s as short as possible and only the extensions are different.
  2. For Spanish speakers (and a slight search results boost by using a ccTLD) I can be found at -
  3. For the English version of my personal site I went with - (you are here)
  4. For personal email I went with the .me version, since .me works well in Spanish as well.  It’s also easier to say, as “cl” is unpronounceable and you end up saying each letter.
  5. Also by eliminating my last name, a Spanish-speaker is just left with “mike”.  For the Spanish-speaker (Chilean) that can’t spell it (quite a few it seems) I can say, “Mike. Mee-Kay-con-Ka) and that will work 99% of the time.

And for the other 1% electronic communication might be a whole different issue.

The original domain?  I put together a neat starry night landing/splash page with two photos of myself linked to the Spanish and English versions of my personal sites.

And that’s all I have to say about that.