1 May 2014

What's in a name?

Whether you've been responsible for a child, a dog or a fish, you know that naming it is basically the biggest challenge you are ever going to have in your life.

Get it wrong and your child will hate you and the internet will mock you mercilessly for a thousand years. 

Get it right, the pressure is on for the next one.

Obviously people have very different ideas about what is right or wrong when it comes to naming children.  I suspect that Katie Price (she of the breasts and persona named Jordan) and I are probably not on the same page when it comes to this discussion.

Since the last few years have seen Prime Ministers and Presidents with names like Kevin and Obama, I think the old 'is it suitable for office' argument is long dead.

And if you've got a surname which draws attention to itself all on it's own you have a separate set of challenges to ensure that any therapy the child needs in later life is not because of what you named them. 

Throw in making sure it doesn't rhyme with any word associated with 'faeces' for their primary school years, any adaptations which sound like or rhyme with sexually transmitted diseases for their high school years - and you're half way there.

If there are cultural elements at play, that's another challenge and then consider the biases of your parents, your partner's parents, grandparents, friends, strangers and "name nazis" such as myself.  It's fraught.  It's dangerous.  It's without a doubt much harder than the following 18 years of child raising. But a little less painful than childbirth.  

Once you've named them, hopefully without mangling the perfectly acceptable John into an inferno of tangled vowels and consonants so he has a unique name, you spend the next gazillion years repeating it so people understand it.

Even John.

My name is John. Joe? No, John? Lovely to meet you Sean.

I've recently been introducing my daughters' a lot to new friends and parents at their new child care so there is a lot of this.....

Her name is Tully. Tahlia? No, Tully. Tilly? No, Tully. Sally?

Her name is Cassidy. Cassandra? No, Cassidy. Lassie?. No, Cassidy. Tracey?

Be thankful I don't mention their middle names as part of routine introduction. (What is what that emerging trend by the way? - I have enough time remembering my daughters' friends' first names without trying to remember their second ones) 

Like everybody in the world, we went through thousands of billions of names before settling on the final ones.  Even with Nick being English and me being Australian there were cultural prejudices and concerns to navigate.  And I didn't want a name in the top 1000 (I may have had to get less dictatorial as time went on.... blush) or with a horrid meaning.  Did you know Cameron for instance means 'broken nose' and Kennedy means 'ugly head'.  Those Scots eh? 

So many names sound gorgeous when articulated, but mean things like "mother's lament", "sorrow of the father", "destroyer of families". And personally, whenever I tried pronouncing anything Japanese - they have some amazingly beautiful and great meaning names - I sounded like I was saying 'cake' but with some kind of speech impediment.

But we managed it.  Two little girls with unisex Gaelic first names and female Gaelic second names.  We can say it's a nod to my Irish heritage but basically Gaelic or German works best for the naturally guttural like myself and Nick was prepared to agree to anything just so we never had to have another discussion about it again. 

So we ended up with Tully Niamh (rhymes with Steve) and Cassidy Maeve (rhymes with Dave).

Tully means 'of a peaceful and powerful nature', Niamh means 'bright and beautiful', Cassidy means 'clever' and Maeve means 'she who intoxicates or brings great joy'.  

Basically, we nailed it.  

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