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!).