What's In A Name?
Shakespeare wrote: What's in a name? That which we call a rose, by any other name would smell as sweet (Romeo and Juliet). Yes, it would. But what about the names people give their children? What do you feel about your own name (I hate mine - especially Thérèse!) Are names important? Do they have an effect on how a child thinks about himself or herself?
What started me musing about names was finding out that Florence Nightingale, who was born on 12th May 1820, was named Florence because she was born in Florence in Italy. Fine, nothing wrong with her name. But did you know that her elder sister, who was born in Naples, was called Parthenope - the Greek name for that ancient city? What a good job Florence's parents weren't visiting Reykjavik or Bratislava when she was born!
Many famous people give their children quite ridiculous, almost cruel, names. What effect does it have on a child to be called "Moon Unit", "Ahmet Emuukha Rodan", "Dweezil", or "Diva" (Frank Zappa's children) or "Inspektor Pilot" (actor Jason Lee's son)? Will they change their names one day? Free Carradine (son of David) changed his name to Tom. Bob Geldorf's daughters are called Fifi Trixibelle, Peaches Honeyblossom and Pixie whilst their half-sister is called Heavenly Hiraani Tigerlily! What happended to Christian names, for heavens' sake! I mean, would you like to be called "Apple" (Gwyneth Paltrow) or "Speck Wildhorse" (John Mellencamp)?
Many people give their children a 'flower' name; Rose, Daisy or Lily are fine examples. But my husband, who used to deal with teachers' records, once came across two teachers, spinster sisters, called Fuchsia and Edelweiss. Original names they may have been but they don't exactly flow off the tongue. Were they teased as children (the idle one?), I wonder!
Do you think a name can influence what you become? Take the names of Red Indian Chiefs, Sitting Bull, (Tatanka Iyotanka) for instance. Would he have risen to be a Hunkpapa Lakota Sioux leader if his name had been 'Grey Mouse'? Would Crazy Horse (Tashunca-uitco) of the Oglala Sioux have made it if his name had been 'Lame Duck'. Well, almost certainly they would have, but it is an interesting thought, nonetheless!