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In English one asks "what's your name?"(the same pattern in my mother language) but why german uses "wie" i.e. "how", this question word seems to me fine when asking one's age, but to get information about proper nouns why this is different than other languages?

With asking: "wie weißt du?" I understand: "how are you called?" i.e. my name is X,but they call me Y, so like a nickname and in this case personal pronoun must be accusative rather than nominative.

In another example if use "was" would it be wrong and how do categorize this error?

Beatrix, weißt du was der Schauspieler in Casablanca heißt?

As a result why the question "was ist dein Name" is wrong?

  • comment for lack of technical terms: you might understand "how are you called" because there is no proper translation for the verb "heißen" into english (and perhaps other languages as well). however, "wie heißt du?" is perfectly fine to ask one's name. regarding you're example: 1) it is wrong 2) you are asking about an "activity" (again might sound weird, but the actor is actively doing "heißen") and therefore the right choice is in english and german "how" – Bort Jan 14 '16 at 20:49
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Using "was" instead of "wie" would be incorrect.

"Beatrix, weißt du wie der Schauspieler in Casablanca heißt?" is the correct question.

"Was ist dein Name?" is incorrect! (Correct: "Wie ist dein Name" or "Wie lautet dein Name?" or used more often "Wie heißt du?")

In German you use "wie" when you ask for someones name, someones feeling, quality, quantity, frequency and duration.

  • thanks for the answer but it's about to close only one vote left, because this question seemed bad formed. – Dragut Jan 15 '16 at 12:20

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