What’s in a name??



I have chosen unusual names for my 2 daughters and I make no apology for it, although at times it feels like people want me to. I had 2 reasons behind this, one my name is one of the most common girls names and therefore my name alone wasn’t good enough to describe who I was in a class or among my friends, I’d be little Jess or Jess R or some other variation. It got really confusing and I hated being named the same as nearly every second girl! My other reasoning behind the unusual names was that I am a teacher and I have taught so many children and they have all left an imprint on my mind and so I wanted a fresh name, one I hadn’t ever heard so the imprint could be completely new, the first mention of that name would be my childs.

I feel that my reasons are valid and I love my daughters names. However I am constantly getting comments like “Can you say that to me in English?” “She’ll have problems getting people to say that one at school” “That’s a weird one”, the list of rude comments goes on. In fact my father in law blatantly said he didn’t like the name and so would call my daughter Isabella! Her middle name is Isabelle, so it’s not even one of her names. After a week he got used to the name and called her by her real name but regardless I was so upset that he felt he had the right to change her name just because he didn’t like it. In fact I find that people are just plain rude when it comes to names. We might have come a long way in political correctness but people seem to think they can tell you exactly what they think of a name even when you haven’t asked they’re opinion.

I have been mulling this over for a long time now trying to figure out why this bothers me so much and then it hit me. It’s just plain rude, I don’t go up to people on the street giving them my opinion on what they are wearing because in the end what does my opinion really matter to them? I’m not sure why people feel that I want their opinion or actually care what they have to say. I don’t know them, they mean nothing to my life and yet they feel the need to share this with me. It’s so hurtful that my children have to have people mocking their names, adults mocking their names. Don’t they understand that that hurts my children. Whether you like it or not that is their name and you saying something rude will not change that, just make my children feel bad about it. I think people have forgotten the age old saying “If you don’t have anything nice to say don’t say anything at all”. I’m not asking people to lie and say they like it, but they just don’t have to say anything at all.

In an age where more and more people from different nationalities are living together we are all going to have to learn new names, and yes they may be hard to say but it’s down right disgusting of people to think they don’t have to learn it or Anglicize it to make it easier for themselves. I’m not sure why people seem to think they are more important then others and things need to change to make it easier for them? Have you ever thought that people from Uganda might find the name John strange to say or just plain weird. Siobhan is a very strange spelling for that name however we are all now pretty used to it, yep it was really weird back in the day but now people just know how to say it and if they don’t they are quickly told and they learn. Learning shouldn’t be feared, it helps our brains stay active. So what are people afraid of. Why do we all have to be called Jess, Jim and Emily? Why are those names not strange? Those names are just a bunch of sounds stuck together after all, and it’s just because we are exposed to them we are now familiar and comfortable with them.

Names are just weird full stop, some have just been used more than others. In fact the purpose of a name is to differentiate you from others, to make you unique so people can refer to you and everyone knows who they are talking about. In an age where villages had only a few thousand people Jane, Peter, Paul and Mary was sufficient, but in our age where we are connected to billions of people it becomes harder and harder to be recognizable but merely a name, even a surname doesn’t guarantee you a uniqueness anymore. Unique names are going to be more and more common because of this, along with the merging of cultures and I think it’s time we moved with the times.

As a teacher I am faced with many names, yes I get them wrong all the time but I care about those little lives I teach and so I learn how to say their names, and I practice them if they are tricky because that is part of their identity and as an adult I need to model to the future generations that we should not make fun of people’s names but respect them and cherish them. If the adults of the world can’t even be decent enough to do that what hope do we have that children won’t get picked on for any difference they may have?


3 thoughts on “What’s in a name??

  1. Onya Jess! I’ve always felt the only person who has the right to change someone’s name is the person with the name in question.

    Now and then I meet someone who asks what they can call me. I tell them they can call me Aviva — that’s my name. If they have trouble with it (how, I wonder, unless they have trouble with the v sound), I spell it, tell them it’s a palindrome (usually have to explain what that is), and then break it down to “A as in apple, V is in victory, I as in it, V as in victory and A as in apple.” If they still don’t get it, I call them a name that’s not theirs. They usually get the idea then. Hugs to you, Maple, Morsberry and Yanik!

  2. You are right, as a mother you have a right to name your children. Nobody has any business belittling you for it. BTW, I might have missed, what are your daughters called? I am curious. 🙂

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