There have been a number of references between two of the bloggers I avidly read, mj monaghan and sportsjim – The Wordslinger they’ve covered the ground of ‘Crazy and Terrible Baby Names’. People around the blogosphere are quite hung up about what parents are pinning on their offspring as nom de plumes. All of us, myself included have climbed on the band wagon and bemoaned the fate of these poor little mites that are forced to wear these monikers. And it got me thinking – I’ll have no facetious retorts to that previous statement – and this is what I’ve come up with from experiences as a Person Who Was Named and as a Person Who Has Named Other People:
Firstly, I was named after one of my fathers’ ex-girlfriends, my mom must have been Out Of It on that natural high you can get after your first born is delivered and while we were staring into each others eyes I’m sure he must have nipped off to the registry with the name of his previous love in mind for his new little daughter for whom he had just bought a cricket bat.
Secondly, my own childrens names are
odd different because I can’t imagine being the parent of yet another Nicky, Sophia, Isabella or Ben, Max or Tyler – I mean have you seen how many of them there are these days? In fact there are so many that I’ve got a gift drawer with presents already labelled with the above 6 names, every weekend we are good to go, no need to write a card! Well there might be an issue now because just the other day we had a Nikki, Sofiya and Izabelle problem, along with the Benn, Macks and Tighler – people are slowly getting the hang of breaking the mold. And besides that they’re going to be teased no matter what – come on throw a name at me, I’m a natural bully, I’ll find something to rip you off about.
Thirdly, if you don’t like your name enough you can change it. My mother in law did, in fact her own mother changed it for her, one day while she was down at the Name Changing Office on some other errand, I forget the details….
Sometimes the only thing that you have to give your kid is a Name. Proof of this is from my father’s experience as a clergy man. Baptising infants has it’s own share of fun and he’s observed that the poorer and from more humble origins the parents the more elaborate and spectacular the name, for example: Chantelise Shineqwa Enchante or for the boys Jaden Prince Stronginthearm. I know babies that have been named after their attendant doctors and midwives and even one thats mother liked the way the sound “Fully Dilated” rolled off her tongue and so pronounced her loin fruit just that.
Just because you’re not used to something as a name doesn’t mean that somewhere in the world that name isn’t a very normal everyday name. In this diverse land of ours the names are from the impossible to spell let alone pronounce; Maholwana-Sangqu to a month of the year June, February, September and October being genuine examples of our surnames. Closer to some of your homes over the waters I’ve heard your women described as having ‘peaches and cream’ complexions – it’s no wonder Peaches Geldof happened. As for the America’s in a country where the broad strokes of generilasation must drive you people crazy why are we suprised that there are people called Neveah (heaven backwards – I hope she’s a good girl) and even your president is a chap who sounds like he was conceived in an army building. Let’s not talk about our president who seems to have had some other pop stars kid named after him *sigh* there is NO accounting for taste but who are we to judge?
Living with such a cross section of cultures the lines tend to get a little blurred. Most of the black people that I know have a Western name simply because it’s so much easier for our white mouths to get around and our white brains to remember. In fact I heard a conversation like this once for a job interview for a hand in the garden of a landlord of ours:
Landlord: “So,” – imagine a good plummy, cheap dry white wine shaped ‘o’ for this ‘so’ – “what’s your name?”
Gardener dude: ” Kudyauku.” he says clearly enough.
Landlord: “What? Oh no, that’s too difficult for me to remember, we’ll just call you Simon ok? You can start on Tuesday? Be here at 07h30? Good.”
Kudyauku/Simon followed a fellow called Forest – hmmmm? Who’s got the funny name now?
I like the idea that here in South Africa we get to choose our names these days, unlike Simon and tons of other previously marginalized individuals who just got handed theirs, a lot of black people are choosing their own Western names now, going for stuff like Gloria, Beauty and Wisdom. I chose my own Xhosa name, Nomhle or Nombies if you know me well enough, it means ‘Beautiful One’ – nice hey? My kids have got Xhosa names too that I chose for them The Eldest is Nomvula, we call her Vuvu, – ‘When It is Raining’ – because it was when she was born and The Youngest is Vuyani or Vuyo, for short, – ‘Happiness’ – because he has one but that’s a story for another time.
Ok, so gripes aside, can we agree that even if someones name isn’t exactly mainstream that perhaps there’s a reason they were called that? Imagine you grew up with a name like Gwyneth, I’m sure her little Apple is just a backlash at a lifetime of having to correct the spelling on movie posters. The woman who swipes my card at the local grocer, her name is Virginy – she says it’s because she is one and that’s what her mother wanted for her when she was born. Then there’s the hippy type swishy hair lady that drives a daisy encrusted brown Volkswagen Beatle and her name is Sunshine, her parents name her that – I don’t know if they gave her the car but it suits her nonetheless, the car and the name.
Not to mention all the hybrid names out there like Hendrik, the father, and Johanna, the mother, that had a little baby girl and called her Hendrianna – good plan, it’s different and it’s a combination of the two of you just like she is. On that note, there’s a little girl in school with The Eldest who’s name is also a combo and when you pronounce it it sounds like Dee En Ay – cool – yes, that’s what she’s made up of – DNA!
And aren’t we all, after all, just what our parents named us?