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.


Jacqueline Seewald said...

A truly interesting post. I wonder if any of us are satisfied with our names? I thought Jacqueline was a strange name when I was little. Then Jacqueline Kennedy entered the White House and suddenly I had a great first name.
I always think of Johnny Cash's great song "A Boy Named Sue" when people discuss names. As Shakespeare in Romeo and Juliet, what's in a name?

Mark Rosendorf said...

For the record, famous baseball Shortstop, Nomar Garciaparra, named after his father, Ramon.

Mark Rosendorf
Author of The Rasner Effect

Alyssa Lyons said...

When I substitute teach, the hardest thing is getting all those made-up, pseudo-ethnic names and non-traditional pronunciations. Is Devon pronounced DEH-von or DEE-von or deh-VON, and that's an easy one. Sometimes it seems someone threw a Scrabble set in the air and the first seven tiles to land became the name. Research says a highly ethnic name can be a detriment to employment and advancement.

Betty Gordon said...

WOW, this is something new to me. Interesting and eye-opening post.

The Belle in Blue said...

As the mother of a child named Treasure, I can't really comment on much here except to say that anyone brave enough to tease my daughter about her name had better be packing some heat! LOL