Monday, May 30, 2011
What is in a Name
One of the curses of becoming an adult is the fact that foolishness no longer makes sense to us. The latest nonsensical thing to enter my awareness happened when I was standing in line today at the supermarket. A young mother was holding an infant that appeared to be about four or five months old. Another woman asked the mother what she had named the baby. “Rehtaeh,” the mother replied.
“Oh!” the woman exclaimed. “I’ve heard of that. That is Heather spelled backwards.”
When I got home from the store I leaped into my computer chair and started googling to see what was missing from my dull and uneventful life. I was aware that Oprah, of television fame, reversed her name to produce the name Harpo, which is the name of her production company. Just to show you how far behind I am, I learned that this practice has a name. Ananyms is the process of reversing brand names to produce a new word. I am going to assume that this term applies to proper names as well.
I have known several people who have received abominable names from their parents, to change or drop the crippling appendage sometime before they are through school. I know a man who actually has the name, Skippy Scamper. I have never asked him how many fights he had in school, but I assume that the ridge on the upper part of his nose resulted from some encounter with a schoolyard bully.
It is said that in Colonial America, the Indians were allowed to pick their own names after they were old enough to have gained some sense of identity. I can’t help wonder what problems might result from naming your kids Rumor, Tallulah, or Scout, as one movie personality did. If something doesn’t kill you, it makes you stronger, I have been told . . . or maybe not.
Posted by Joe Prentis at 5:21 PM