Sunday, February 22, 2009

What's in a name?

NB: Please read the following with the most Aussie of Australian accents you can muster!

"Her name is Shaylah-Teneeshah, with a 'h' after Shaylah and a 'h' after Teneeshah", says mum number 1.

"Oh-ah lovely, it's soooo noice", says mum number 2.

"I made i-up and didn't tell a single soul 'til the day she was born", says now proud mum number 1.

"Well, I couldn't decide so I just wen' with whatever the midwife's name was and named her Abi, you know, for Abigail", says now deflated mum number 2.

"Oh, ya shoulda decided long before that; I knew she was gunna be Shaylah-Teneeshah and, with two h's, months before she was born. If she was a boy she woulda been named Travis or Anderson" says mum number 1 reminiscing, lip curled and nodding.

"Oh, I think Abi's still noice. I think when this one's born (nodding toward her expansive belly) I'll see what comes to mind", says mum number 2, reassuringly.

This was a conversation I overheard whilst having a coffee at a cafe.

Now, when and where I grew up, children had names like Michael and Michelle, Wendy or Wayne. Admittedly, I lived in a community that was so Anglo-Saxon, a quick glance over students seated in our school assembly hall revealed my sister and I (the obvious very dark heads)! And, not only did we stand out visually. At the time, we believed our names left alot to be desired as well. I disliked my name. I didn't hate it, no, my name did not deserve that much emotion be expended on it, just a casual dislike and dread of people calling out to me or reading my name off a roll-call list. To have had a name like Susan or Melinda or even Linda. Yes, a familiar name I would not have to spell out even to my teacher of three whole school terms (ie. three-quarters of the year!). No, Mervat. Several times I was asked what it meant and what its origin was. I knew I was named after some ancient Egyptian queen, but as if I was going to volunteer further alien information and be even more different! And what words could be made from my name (a rainy-day task favoured by overly bored teachers!): vat, met, rat, vet! Yes, my name was special indeed.

But, as I became older (and this is one thing age is beneficial for!)I grew into my name. Yes, I began to accept my name. And with the advent of the internet (God bless you internet!), I discovered that the origin of my name is Mervatiti (a young Egyptian princess named Mervat; as in Nefertiti!). And how wonderful this sounds to me at the age of 38! Yes, very exotic. Almost as exotic as Shaylah-Teneeshah (with or without two h's!).

These days, names like Hasan and Hilda, Nyugen and Nghi, Toula and Adonis, Mustafa and Magida, and yes, Cooper, Harrison and Jordan (for a girl or boy, glory be!) have become virtually mainstream in Australian society. Okay, I guess it is most cities west and south of Sydney and probably quite a few suburban areas around the country, but familiar none-the-less.

So, if there is an impending birth in your circles, and a really original name is sought, suggest the baby be named after the midwife, change the spelling of a familiar name or just make one up. You never know what you'll get!

What is your experience with a 'different' name?

Have a great day!!
Mervat (coming to you loud and proud thanks to an ancient Egyptian princess!).


Jane said...

At school I was one of three Janes in my class.
When I had a daughter I wanted her to have a name no-one else did.
I called her Briony and she has just started High School.
Not only is she the only Briony in her class - but in the whole school of more than 1,000 students.
Job done!

The Writing Instinct said...

Well done to you! I absolutely love the name Jane but had to make a compromise when naming our daughter (hubby had other choices!) and decided on Jena. It annoys her no end that it is regularly mispelt as Jenna.

MyHijab said...

well, imagine being call Houda!! Somehow, around year nine, I started being known as boobs (bcz it was houds at one stage but it rhymed with boobs!).

I wanted my daughters to each have a name that was just, well normal by Aussie standards. Hana and Sara do that (i rebelled with the spelling!)

But after reading Jane's comment, I cringe to think that i have made a huge mistake. Maybe Sara could have been Maryam afterall (yes, i still think about 'that')?

How are we ever trusted to give names to new human beings!

notSupermum said...

I chose names for my daughters that are not unusual but you just don't get that many of them.

Some names nowadays are just plain daft if you ask me, but then I'm a bit old fashioned about names I suppose.

Btw, I left you an award on my blog. Enjoy!

see you there! said...

My oldest daughter decided to change her name after she became an adult. I must admit it didn't sit very well with me - or most of the rest of her family for that matter.

Sometimes I still forget and then she screeches!

Oh well.


La Belette Rouge said...

I heard of parents that named their twins Today and Tomorrow. Really? I just want to be there the day Tomorrow is sick at school and the teacher says, "Here Today and gone Tomorrow."
p.s. My Aussie accent sucks.;-)

Sheila said...

I only had maybe 2 Sheilas all the way through school. When I was a kid I disliked it, but as I've gotten older, I like it a lot more.

It's a name everyone knows, but no one has!

Audi said...

I hated having a 'weird' name growing up, but I also enjoy it now. I think it has contributed a lot to the confidence I have in daring to do things a little differently. It does get misspelled and mispronounced quite a lot, though, which I guess just goes with the territory -- if I tell someone my name, they want to spell it 'Oddy,' and if they see it written, they always pronounce it like the car. Sigh.

Mervat said...

Houda: That is such a great observation. But, I think your girsl will be fine. Plus, I beleive that each person carries with them their unique personality which the name moulds to.

notSupermum: I love the idea of traditional names with a history. Our son inherited his grandad's name which will be with him and he is proud to have it.

Darla: I wonder if she will change her mind again? Or, has she 'grown' into her new her name, in your opinion?

La Belette: That is the funniest think I have heard in a long time. Thank you so much for the belly laugh!!
And, just 'think' the accent!!

Sheila: I had a friend named Sheila so I view your name with a special fondness (and she was part of the 'popular' group at school!).

Audi: I always wondered how you pronounced your name, and now, if ever we should meet, I won't get it wrong! I also think your name really suits you and your character and couldn't imagine you with any other!

With best wishes to you all,

Dal Jeanis said...

Having grown up as "Dal Merlin Jeanis", I can tell you I'd suggest two things -

First, always give your child one name he/she can use to stand out, and one name he/she can use to fit in.

Ergo, my son is "Alexander Redson Jeanis".

Second, stand in the yard and yell all three names as fast as you can, three times. If you can't do it, pick another name.

Because you'll need to do it.

Mervat said...

Dal Jeanis: Thank you for visiting and commenting. I think that is terrific advice. I especially like your idea of standing in the yard and yelling the proposed names fast and quick! I'll suggest this to people I know who are expecting and see how they like it!

Anonymous said...

I am so happy I found a true explanation of my name. My parents always told me that it was the name of an ancient egyptian queen but it wasn't clear. My egyptian friend didn't believe me , and told me it was more of a deformation of the name marwa, and my turkish friend gave me the turk explanation but I can't remember it.

so thank you

PS:(I live in france so this is the french writting and french pronounce it differently)


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