Friday, May 27, 2011

What is in a name?

Tonight I am preparing for our school's graduation in the morning. I am the Voice - I call out the names of all the graduates as they receive their diplomas. I take this job very seriously because I know how important it is for their family to hear their student's name called, loud, clear and properly.

I don't pretend to know all of the students. I am lucky if I know half of them. A couple days ago - at the rehearsal- I asked the students to write their names phonetically beneath the printed label if they had a strange spelling or pronunciation. 

As I review the note cards, I am reminded of all the unusual names I have come across. I am not talking about names in foreign languages. No, I am talking about taking the names of products or just plain making up names. In years past, I have called out names of students named after hotel chains, luxury cars,  and even alcoholic drinks. Even celebrities are getting in on the act.  One couple naming their daughter after a fruit or was it the maker of iPods.

What happened to naming children after relatives or biblical names? In biblical times, a name meant something.  We read about significant events marked by God giving someone a new name (Abraham and later Paul). A name stood for something. It had meaning.  What do the names of today say about our society, about us? The only answer I can come up with is that we are obsessed with individuality and consumerism. It's reflected in the names.


Tia Bach said...

I don't disagree with your points. My children are Jacqueline, Reagan, and Madeleine. Mix of old and new. But with all three I had a common theme. I wanted something different than the constantly repeated top 10 names when they were born and when I was growing up. With girls, I didn't want them to have to measure up to what all the other Jennifers and Susies were doing. Funny, though, my husband and I only talked about very classic, biblical & strong names for boys (didn't have to use any). And I'm Tia, so I can't say much!

Haley said...

I think celebrity baby names have been getting a little out of control lately -- Moroccan or Bear Blu, anyone? -- but I have to admit I liked being the only Haley in any of my classes (the name later surged in popularity, but for my age group, it wasn't common). I wouldn't name a child anything off the wall like Pilot Inspektor, but I also wouldn't go for something super common.