my name

"So, why is your name Farouk?"

I've had to answer this question so many times for acquaintances, airport security, friends who were too afraid to ask while we were still acquaintances... that I figured I'd just type it up here, hoping it'll save me telling the story at least once.

To anyone familiar with Arabic and Virginian names, it is clear that my first and last name do not match. So here’s the story.

On my father’s side, names are pretty standardized: Preston names his son Edward, Edward names his son Vance, and Vance names his son Preston. And so on and so forth.

So, my father named me Vance, which was all fine and dandy. Except for the fact that he was working and we were living the Middle East, which mostly speaks Arabic, which doesn’t have a ‘v’ sound. So, effectively, my name would be pronounced “Fance,” or at second-best, “Bance.” Neither of which sounded too appealing to my parents.

At a neighbor’s suggestion, they began looking into the meaning of Vance to see if there was some equivalent, better-sounding translation. And that’s when they learned that Vance actually means the thresher, who divides the wheat from the chaff (not bad, not bad). And the Arabic equivalent for that is Farouk, which comes from the root “faraq,” to divide or separate.

So, they stuck the Arabic name on the front, kept the Vance in the middle, and just hoped for the best. When I moved to the US for university, I had had both names for so long that I just introduced myself as Farouk but gave people the option of Vance if pronunciation is difficult. Which hopefully explains why my friends know me as Farouk but my grandparents call me Vance.