Our name is intertwined with our identity. It is one of the first words we come to recognise in print, learn to write, and respond to when heard aloud. We either come to connect with our name, or occasionally find that friends and colleagues prefer to use a nickname. The fact that a name is occasionally changed to something else is testimony to the fact that the name has to somehow suit the individual. If the birth name doesn’t seem right, a nickname is used instead.
There may be a history behind the person’s name. It was a family thing, named after a relative; else the name might just sound right in isolation, or even just look right when written down. We can have a visual image associated with a name, and make all sorts of assumptions about a person simply because of this label; the origin of these assumptions being a little bit of a mystery, the assumptions changing in an instant if we meet someone who contradicts our expectations. Really, if someone is named ‘Ernest’ do we thing of Oscar Wilde’s comic play or Hemingway’s rugged masculinity? Its actual meaning is closer to Hemingway’s personality; Wilde’s used it ironically. But parents don’t necessarily look up the meaning when they choose for their newborn child. I think often the given name is simply a phonetic match with the Family name that we have rather little choice about. The name’s associations come from what we experience in connection with it.
What about unorthodox variations? Parents want the child to be recognised as an individual, so give it a name that nobody else has, or spell it in some unconventional way? Does this make the person different, or does it indicate that they always were different. A few people wonder how an unorthodox name wears for a child at school. A popular child can dare to be different and still be accepted, and the distinctive name goes with this. At other times a child is ostracised for not being part of the convention. Again, does the name influence this or simply reflect it.
Ancient Roman’s thought the name was an omen of what the person was, or would be. At the same time they would change the name if the person’s social status changed. The two ideas don’t quite reconcile; does the name determine character, or does the character determine the name? Probably not either really. It’s probably that the name should indicate the individual’s character. Either way the link is not arbitrary, we are not just given a number. Somehow the name must suit the individual.
Today’s blog post was supplied by Name On It. Name On It is a custom name label, kids label and name sticker supplier which revolves around providing colourful and stylish name labels for your kids.