What’s the Equivalent of John Doe or Juan Pérez in Other Countries?

In the Spanish-speaking world they’re known as Juan Pérez, “fulano de tal,” N.N., among other things. The truth is that, despite being among the most common first and last names in Latin America, not many people know someone with just those names, though we tend to use them to refer to someone without a specific identity. In the United States they’re known as John Doe, as in the cable series that came and went without much fanfare. Other times they’re called John Smith, as in the famous explorer. Ultimately, every corner of the world has its own version with its own peculiarities.

The word “fulano” comes from the Arabic “fulan,” which means “so and so.” Its feminine equivalent in Arabic, “fulanah,” is pronounced the same as the Spanish “fulana.” In Asia, the former Spanish colony of the Philippines uses the name Juan de la Cruz. In Italy it’s Mario Rossi.

The equivalent in Japan is Yamada Taro for men and Yamada Hanako for women, though on occasion they use “Nanashi-no-Gombei,” which roughly translates as “No name, So and so.” In China they chose to use “Pinyin: Wúmíng Shì,” which translates literally as “Mr./Mrs. No Name.” In India, on the other hand, they went with the slightly less creative “naamalum” (“unknown”).

The Dutch chose to give it a bit of a rhyme and their John Doe is known as Jan Jansen. Not wanting to get left behind, the Bosnians came up with three options worthy of rap lyrics: Marko Marković, Petar Petrović and Sima Simić. The Bulgarian Ivan Ivanov is not too dissimilar.

Setting rhymes aside, the French use Jean Dupont, though they also resort to Monsieur Tout-le-monde, which translates as “Mr. All-the-world.” In Finland they chose not to economize on the ink and use Matti Meikäläinen, though it’s even worse with the Germans: Otto Normalverbraucher.

To conclude, and returning once again to Spanish, the strange part of all this which turns out to be positive for anybody with Pérez as their last name is that it doesn’t even reach the top of the list of the most common last names in Spanish-speaking countries; Gómez, Rodríguez and González take that prize. Meanwhile, Juan is the most common name only in Argentina (Juan Carlos to be more specific).