Wednesday, February 16, 2011

What's in A Name - Part Too

It turns out that my first post about the mysteries of names What's in a Name is the most read post on this blog, by a long shot. I guess that proves my point, names are important and a subject of interest and curiosity. I still pay a lot of attention to people's names, and since being in Manila I've encountered a Jelli Ann, Girly, Ace, and a burly security guard by the name of Jasmin. Just when I think I've seen it all, another one pops up and I find myself being greeted by a Fish.

We've recently gotten to know a couple, who live quite close to us, and their son is also a J, just two months older than ours. The irony is that their daughter's name is Grace, which happens to be at the top of the list of girl's names I love for that daughter I don't have any plans to produce anytime soon. It has me wondering about how these people would feel if I gave both my children the same names as their little ones (who I've never met, by the way). I know when I was pregnant I was extremely disappointed that friends named their daughter Zoe, which was top of my list back then. They weren't close friends so it probably wouldn't have been a big deal if we'd had a girl and I named her Zoe (although I would've changed my mind a dozen times by then anyway), but I would've been disappointed that my Zoe wasn't the first. It would no longer have been an original-ish name amongst our group of friends.

We have a lot of friends who have given their children names I love, and I have to wonder if they would be honoured or a little miffed if I happened to "steal" one of these names at some point, a long, long way down the track. The same goes for family members. Could I name my imaginary, unborn daughter Emily knowing there is already an Emily C? I love Amelie but that's taken too. I could live with Emma but apparently that name once belonged to an ex-girlfriend of my beloved and is well and truly off-limits.  Another issue we have is that we have quite a complicated surname, so first names have to be easy to pronounce and preferably short. I may very well need to take on board some of the more creative names I've seen lately.

For those of you possibly wondering why you don't know my name, when you know so much else about me. I stay fairly anonymous on this blog (a bit odd maybe considering that my most prolific readers are my mum and a few friends) because when I started writing my darling husband had visions of thousands of people reading my blog and invading our privacy. He was worried, given how much I reveal about us, that someone with greater internet skills than mine might do something with our personal information. I didn't share his concerns (or his faith in my skills as a writer) but I do agree that cyberspace can be a bit hostile at times, so I keep myself to myself. Ditto goes for photos of us. Those of you that don't know me will have to take my word for it that we all have quite normal names and we're really ridiculously good looking.

1 comment:

  1. Two things:
    1) You all are just so darn good-lookin'! It's almost suspicious...
    2) Now, since you know my last name, you'll know this is by no means objective, but I have to disagree with keeping names simple. I get on my soapbox for the anglicisation and/or simplification of names.

    Couple of thoughts:
    - The kids with "different" names (first or last) that I went to school with were more gregarious. Had to be, and from the moment first roll call was read. Not a bad thing!
    - Who exactly got to make the call that names must be 1) in lowest common denominator English and 2) no more than three syllables?
    - Specific to Hong Kong--as much fun as people have with their handles (and we have reading/hearing them), why is it that Chinese people living in China (as we are, after all) need an English name, exactly? Isn't it the courteous thing to do to learn to pronounce Chinese names?
    - Names come from places, have stories. First, how interesting to hear those two sentences about them! Second, recognising that there are many reasons for changing/"normalising" a name, some heavy indeed, it is a loss when that little thread of history is cut, however small.
    - It's a little bit of global education to have to learn a unfamiliar name. Like travel for your tongue and mind. I find it quite curious that to find the same folks who extoll the virtue of international living, travel and schooling inform me on our first meeting that "I'm not even going to attempt your last name; I'll just call you M...(my first name)." I beg your pardon? Or call my husband, J...-C... (French compound first name) "Jay-Ceee". (For the record, he doesn't mind.)
    - It's character education too, on both sides. For the one wearing the name, a chance to stand fast and encourage someone to learn, ("Actually, I prefer you call me __full name__, here's how to pronounce it..."). And for the one faced with the name, a chance to practise humility and learn something ("Can you please help me pronounce this correctly? Where is that name from?")

    So I say, B, bring on the tricky names! Up with tonal names! Long may the long ones live, er... long!

    For those who know me: Don't argue with me, people. I'll take out a couple more vowels and add in the true accents on my name and then you'll be in trouble! :))