Monday, May 05, 2008

What's in a name?

In my work for "the man" I have been privy to a lot of unusual names,sometimes it's just the spelling that is a little different.  But clearly some are interesting references to totally other things.
For one thing it can be a way to tell folks how your little came to be here. Chianti Chardonnay Vodka Tequila I don't know about you but I would have some problem with Vodka. The rest, well, at least have a flow about the pronunciation that at least makes them interesting. Also the traditional spellings were used so that makes things a bit easier on the kid. In the stacks of applications were also names that most of us associate with places, things, or well just not names:
LaQuinta - I could swear this is a motel chain. If names help determine your future, well let's not even contemplate this poor child's potential destiny. Clinique - hm, except for the fact that this name was given to a girl I would think someone was raising a potential drag queen. Touche - complete with the accent. Think about how most of use this french word in conversation. Very weird to go around calling your child the equivalent of "good point!".
British - I get London, Asia, India, Cheyenne, and others. But British???
Not surprisingly I saw: Eunique (I figure the parent thought adding the "e" give it that unusual edge), Princess, and Precious.

However "MyQueen" just tripped me out. Can you imagine the parent saying: "No MyQueen, Yes MyQueen"? Doesn't that set up one hell of a twisted power balance!
My friend Andrea would be surprised at how many other spellings there are for her name:
The other piece that is interesting in the naming I saw was the abundance of vowels, or sometimes missing vowels, and apostrophe's. Do you think that Sh'ron and Sha'ron are pronounced differently? Seriously I pondered this one and I realize I have a hard time hearing certain subtle differences in speech but I really think these would sound the same said by most folks. Then there are the ones that almost sound like another word: Creola - crayola
Ta'Jeana - tagine
Jiaria - giardia

The siblings sets of names could be truly daunting.
Terrence is the brother of Terraca
Christine is the sister to Christian
Johnnie (m) is the brother to Johnnae (f)
D'Angela is the sister to Angelo D.
Trevon is Jevion's brother
Jay'Veon is brother to Jay'Quon
DaMiyah & DaMahnii

Amauki (f) & Amaurion (m)
Mykiana(f) & Mykala (f)

Mom Lennette liked the doubling up of letters so much that she named one of her children Leannettay

I realize that I sucked at pronouncing words and names, so much so one would think English was my second or third language but there were some that totally stumped me.

Quovozio Kozon Nyiarrha
Elijhnane Tylexcen Dazjha

Sibling sets:
Shawn (m), Shantil (f), Shanell (f), Shaniece (f) & Za'niya (f)
Emprise (f), Se'Marion (m), & Ricae (f)
Ta't'Yannah (f), Tai'Shawn (m) and Tae'Jon (m)

This is just a taste of the names I scribbled down while plugging away at data entry where my rate went from 70 applications to 120 a day. There are more but I suspect y'all would get bored.

On a more serious note even a quick reading of these applications was depressing - all these single young women with children, their lives in a total standstill by parenthood. Many of these women had their first child at 16, the youngest I processed was 13 but 14 and 15 were not unusual to see either. One woman was 21 and already had a 7, 4, 2, and 1 year old. My heart broke when I saw files like this, my body ached with idea of the burden. Many of these women have had between 2-5 men fathers for their children and are not receiving child support (well at least they didn't report it). There were many who were only receiving child support for some of their children, rarely all.

This gig also brought out the latent sociologist in me. Hourly I formed questions about the naming traditions in the African-American community that I was seeing over and over. What traditions are they borrowing from? The use of "Jr" and "III" is still quite common and interesting considering the father's apparent non-involvement. Some of the spellings seem phonetic but are non-standardized. There's a system for this sort of thing that I cannot find a reference for - you know that one that spells "fish" something like "ghosh" (I am sure about using "gh" for "f"). The doubling up of vowels, dropping of vowels, odd consonants, use of apostrophes - mind boggling I tell you.


emilynye said...

it's "ghoti":
gh as in "laugh"
o as in "women"
ti as in "nation"

-- george bernard shaw

heather said...

that shaw quote is awesome!

i think, other than 'british' and the excellent 'myqueen', my favorite is really Ta't'Yannah. it makes me think of SanDeE*, which always makes me happy.

louisiana swamp rat said...

I don't know if I've mentioned before, but my "new sister" ( named her daughter J'Adai (pronounced jada)- my niece is half AA, so I don't know if that influenced new sister or not. Maybe I should ask for her insight on it...

louisiana swamp rat said...

Oh, and the wife works with a man whose first name is "original" - Original Jones - who would do that to their kid???

wen said...

love it. i used to have a board at work where we'd write great names. (we had a LOT.) one of my favorites: odd-even bustness.

i also had flake investments and the bitter family living trust.

one note--i can't read the ends of the lines on the blog lately. it's like they are cut off entirely, which makes for a rather disjointed reading experience. i'm on IE, not sure if that matters...