A Rose by Any Other Name : Name that… You!

“What’s in a name? That which we call a rose
By any other name would smell as sweet.”

– Romeo and Juliet (11,11,1-2)

Do you know the meaning of your name, and why your parents chose it? Do you think it suits you? What about your children’s names?

Well, didn’t I just choose the most obscure quote for today’s Daily Prompt? It’s from this guy called Shakespeare, you’ve probably never heard of him before.

I was named after an island – but enough about me.

Have you ever noticed that people’s names just seem to “suit” them? When you’ve known someone by one name, you can’t imagine them having another. Also, when you know someone particularly well, their name will always remind you of them – siblings are the best example. When I meet someone with my sister’s name, they will forever be “the girl who has the same name as my sister”.

Of course, my sister has a common name. I do not. People with common names hardly ever have to roll their eyes at mispronunciations and misspellings that happen daily, while I’ve gotten into the habit of just spelling my name for people rather than saying it, when they need to write it down. Otherwise I get creative variations that make me wonder what is going on in other people’s minds.

I suppose in a way it’s a good thing that, to other people, my name belongs only to me and they’ll rarely meet someone else to know as “the girl who has the same name as my sister/daughter/niece/friend/girlfriend”. But if you ask Shakespeare, none of it matters – I’d be the same person even if my name was Frank, or Ursula, or Fat Bastard.

I saw a TV show once that said that people with unusual names have less luck in the workplace. And when I say unusual I don’t mean “Capri”, I mean, “Sodapop”. I am absolutely terrified at the prospect of naming my future children. As a general rule, based on my limited life experience, I think you should always take two things into consideration:

  1. Supply Teachers. Picture your child’s face as the supply teacher gets to them on the attendance sheet, pauses, and looks up helplessly. Your child raises her hand and says, “Here.”
  2. Employer X. Imagine your child shaking hands with an employer and saying “Hi, I’m _________”. If the employer bursts out laughing, you are probably being cruel.

Then there’s the matter of fitting on forms or name tags, matching with your last name, and random pop culture references that will ruin your child’s life (YO ADRIAN). Also, consider playground bullies (Think Piscine from Life of Pi).

Or just name your child whatever you want and let them handle it. That’s cool too.

For me, I can’t imagine the pressure of naming a child and being responsible for them having that name for the rest of their life and being remembered by that name for those who outlive them. I mean, that’s a lot of pressure. It’s like picking out a tattoo for someone else. Think of Anne of Green Gables – poor Anne was actually named Ann but she decided to add an “e” because that made it better, in her opinion. What she really wanted was to be named Cordelia, which I don’t think would have suited her at all. But then again, maybe it would have if she had been introduced as Cordelia from the start.

(Afterthought: Ridiculous names do force people to have a sense of humour. My friend from Example (1) had an excellent sense of humour when it came to her name – she always made fun of us when we attempted to spell it. I set out to learn how to pronounce and spell her whole name, including many middle names, and I have not forgotten it after 7 years. Just listen to A Boy Named Sue, that’ll sum it up.)

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