Weird names, not just Black after all

this piece from Salon (you can tell I’ve just been there) reminds us.  Although the author should’ve come across the fact that even the ancient Romans sometimes named their children numbers after their birth order – Secundus/a, Quartus, Quintus, Septimus, Octavius – which sounds alot more impressive if you don’t know Latin – Second, Fourth, Fifth, Seventh, Eighth…!  (I’d give in to the temptation to claim that Augustus and Julius Caesars were named after months, but of course it’s the other way around!!)  The only thing weirder is George Foreman and his five sons named George.  But understanding the “weird Black name” phenomenon as liberating, yeah, I get that.

Electa, Valantine, and Zebedee are religious names: one or more of St. John’s Epistles were formally addressed to a parish he called the Lady Electa (ie, Chosen, or perhaps Elect, ie, predestined, from Calvinism); Zebedee was father of the Apostles Sts. James and John; and Valantine is just Valentine, the early Christian martyred bishop and patron saint of February 14.

I think I can understand “unique” names (though the Orthodox Church usually insists on Orthodox Saints’ names, for role models, Holy t/Tradition, and Heavenly intercessors for the named), but do they have to sound as ridiculous as some of them do?  Worse, they often defy English-language spelling conventions, as an old radio hand leaving some doubt as to pronunciation, with or without apostrophes, post-initial capital letters, or strings of consonants without a vowel where needed (outside of Polish, of course!).  (And as an Irishman, I must insist that the correct spelling of one common name or name-particle is Sean! 😉  Though I was impressed to meet a young lady named Shavaun, which is simply Siobhan with the spelling anglicized!  Tho I didn’t realize it until I sounded it out in my head … a problem with innovative spellings.)  In any case, is a name truly “unique” simply by changing one letter?  Computers think so, but I don’t know….

As for Arabic-language names, it’s no big deal in itself, though of course alot of people these days have issues with the religion usually suggested, Islam.  Senator Obama’s name, of course, came from his father, a lapsed Muslim who still wanted his kid named after him.  (My legal name is similar in that respect.)  His native Kenya’s Muslim population, like that of other near-Sahara countries, continues to grow.  (But its Orthodox population even faster!)  But critics seem to forget that King Hussein of Jordan was a great friend of the United States; OTOH, Hussein was Saddam’s last name, not his first name … and neither the king nor the future President were named after him!!!  It just happens to be a relatively common Arabic name in various spellings.  For that matter, as Obama has reminded us, (Ehud) Barack was an Israeli prime minister – so I guess it goes both ways, eh?!!

Some of these names are, or seem like, surnames, being used as given names.  This practice of course is well-known in the White Protestant community, though even Catholics have been known to use them for middle names though rarely first names, like John Fitzgerald Kennedy.  Speaking of English Protestants, let’s not forget Praisegod Barebones, and another 17th-century Puritan whose given name was – I swear I am not making this up – “Christ Died To Save Us.”

What’s unfortunate about “Luxury Latch-on” names is that increasingly the original corporate names themselves are totally made up words, and not real names at all, rendering the personal names based on them a second-generation phenomenon, or twice-removed from the real world.

Orencio sounds Shakespearean, like those fake Italian names some of his characters had.

Other than that, my biggest concern as someone who hopes to acquire naming rights over someone someday in the not-too-distant future, is how they’ll deal with the name for the rest of their lives … something that doesn’t seem to enter into as many other parents’ or would-be parents’ minds as I would expect.  Was their own childhood so long ago?  Not longer than mine in most cases, except maybe Dave Letterman and Donald Trump….  But I figure weirdness is for nicknames, totally optional, appearing in no government databases or legal documents (unless they’re in the Mob of course).

“My friends call me Xfrkgyuip.”
“Gee, that’s interesting. Why do they call you that?”

And so on.

Then again, since I learned it, I’ve always thought the Irish Gaelic name for Wednesday, Ceadaoin (Céadaoin), pronounced something like kay-DEEN, would make a pretty girl’s name: hmm, Céadaoin Ó Faoláin….**  [As for its meaning, “First Fast-day,” it refers to the ancient Christian (and continuing Orthodox Christian) practice of cutting-back on food on most Wednesdays of the year; Fridays also, Aoine, meaning simply “Fast-day,” suggesting the Irish didn’t do Wednesdays at first.]  And speaking of Irish names, I dislike the growing trend of giving girls Gaelic boys’ names: Murphy Brown, McKenzie Phillips, even Phelan, an English form of my last name.  I suspect these parents (or writers) aren’t aware that these Irish (or Scottish) surnames are based on (in most cases) ancient men’s given names … witness the constant attention in Irish surname / family history recitations to the supposed derivation of the surname, as faolan, little wolf, rather than the more real and relevant reference to an eponymous ancestor!  There’s also Rory Kennedy, an almost unforgivable sin considering that the last reigning High King of All Ireland bore that name, Rory (Roderick) O’Connor, King of Connacht – variously spelled Ruaidhri, Ruairi.  (Also because she didn’t marry me! 😉  )

But by all means visit this site the Salon writer points to.  It’s so funny you just might cure cancer!  I laughed so hard I cried and had a coughing fit, probably the hardest laugh of my life, no kidding!

(I remember the Black comic who told us a couple years ago about the crap he took for “fighting the good fight” and then turning to dating White women for a while, before again reversing himself.  “A Loqueeda makes up for two Megans and a Becky.”)

(**–Though in proper Irish she’d have to be Céadaoin ní Fhaoláin.)

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