Is it fine if I choose a pen name that uses my own name with a surname of a different language?

  • 1
    Welcome to Writing.SE! This has already been asked and answered, so I've closed this as a duplicate. The linked duplicate should contain the answers you're looking for.
    – F1Krazy
    Commented Dec 22, 2023 at 10:26
  • @F1Krazy The answers there are pretty bad, though. So many blatantly wrong statements.
    – Divizna
    Commented Dec 23, 2023 at 11:41
  • @Divizna That's not a reason not to close this as a duplicate, though, since they're still the exact same question. Feel free to make your own answer if you feel the existing ones aren't satisfactory.
    – F1Krazy
    Commented Dec 23, 2023 at 12:08
  • @F1Krazy I actually can't. I could answer this question but not that one. This question is "Can I do this?" - I know the answer to that. But that question is "What will the effect on the sales be?" - and that's out of my league. (Still, I know that a) Solženicyn was Russian, b) Novik is the name of an internationally known fantasy writer, c) you don't need the recipient's name in order to transfer a payment to a bank account... and also d) at least in my country you can sign valid contracts with a pseudonym and you don't need to register that pseudonym anywhere.)
    – Divizna
    Commented Dec 23, 2023 at 12:20
  • Now that the question's been changed, I've reopened it.
    – F1Krazy
    Commented Jan 14 at 9:06

2 Answers 2


There are people with real names like that. At high school, we had an English teacher. He was an American with a very English-language first name and an obviously Czech surname. (Yes, he had Czech ancestry. Yes, it was the first thing we asked.) A friend has a very Czech first name combined with a Spanish-language surname after her father (Cuban). These people exist and live their lives and there's nothing too weird about it.

If you choose a foreign surname as part of your pen name, though, expect that people will get curious. Those that don't know it's only a pen name are likely to ask about your family roots. And those who do know it's a pen name will wonder why you made that choice. Language-mismatched names are conspicuous, even more so than a fully foreign name.

  • Foreign surname is not always so clear cut.
    – Lambie
    Commented Jan 14 at 18:35
  • @Lambie Sure. Surnames of German origin are common for Czechs, often with original spelling including any umlauts (umlaut doesn't exist in Czech but it still appears on the Czech keyboard and I guess these names are the reason). Nobody is going to think you have an interesting family history just because your name is Jindřich Böhm. On the other hand, if your name is French... But what catches attention the most are foreigners with Czech names. We sure notice that. And then you have names that have changed spelling somewhere along the way, and names you can't easily tell where they're from.
    – Divizna
    Commented Jan 14 at 20:13
  • It is not a clear-cut issue. There are tons of, for example, Kowalski's in the states, a Polish name I believe, but it would simply not be an issue. And "language-mismatched names" are a non-starter. John Le Carré
    – Lambie
    Commented Jan 14 at 22:15

You can choose any pen name you like. It's up to you and your imagination. Pen names aka nom de plume.

*John Le Carré.

*Isak Dineson

*Annie Proulx [not a pen name]

*Vladimir Nabokov [not a pen name]'pen name: Vladimir Sirin

The first is a pen name that is French. The others are just interesting names of famous authors.

Here is an entire list of pen names to inspire you.

pen names

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