I remember having a argument with someone over the name John once. I said that the name Ivan is the Croatian equivalent of John. He would not have a bar of it. Meanwhile others in the room watched not really sure whether to buy in – they weren’t really sure themselves either way.
We were all of Croatian background so I then asked – how do we called Pope John Paul in Croatian. The response was Papa Ivan Pavao – the Croatian translation of Pope John Paul. Silence then ensued. Funny that no one hardly ever concedes that they were wrong.
Perhaps not surprisingly this is a little known fact. It genuinely derives surprise – naturally thinking that the spelling is so different so they must not be the same name and/or that Ivan is used so separately that it must be different. I must admit as a youngster my parents failed to educate me and my siblings on this either – my older brother is named Ivan. I guess some things are meant to be found out by osmosis or by the power of God.
Interestingly the name John has many other variants in different cultures. Even the feminine variant Jane is not equated with this. Here’s a list of the variants from wikipedia.
The interesting ones for me are:
Ireland: Sean, Eoin
Scotland: Ian, Jock
German: Hans, Jan
According to wikipedia it is not to be confused with Jon.