24 August 2008

What's in a name?

Friday's discussion of names led to a few interesting follow up questions from my enigmatic blog stalker, and I thought that a good way to spend my Sunday afternoon would be to address them. He/she asked:
When naming a baby, do you pick out the name before the baby is born or do you wait to see the personality of the baby? Do people 'grow' into their names?
As I am not a mother, nor have I ever experienced the joy and discomfort of incubating a living being in my uterus, I can only respond to the first question in the hypothetical and based on conjecture. If past experience is any indicator, I can safely assume that I will be the type of expectant mother who names her baby beforehand. I say this, because I have what some might not-so-kindly refer to as an obsession with naming things. Personally, I prefer to think of it as a penchant for naming things.

My iPod has a name (John Boy), my teddy bear has a name (Teddy - creative I know), even my laptop has a name (My Love - don't ask). My point is that I name everything, and I can't imagine that I would go 40 weeks with a living being growing inside me and be able to refer to it only as "the baby." Besides, I've heard that fetuses demonstrate quirks and respond to outside stimuli, which can arguably be considered personality, and anything with a noticeable personality needs a name as far as I'm concerned.

That being said, I do think that people grow into their names (or nicknames as the case may be). I think that there are certain stereotypes and personality traits accompany names, and more than acting a certain way because your name "makes you," I think that people are treated a certain way based on their names, and that can affect how a person develops. For instance, a Mary Lou is treated much differently than a Victoria. And, that's not even getting into the pop cultural association with certain names, like Scarlett, Marsha, et cetera.

If authors have to be particular about choosing character names, then I think parents should be equally responsible for choosing people names.


Nicole Celine said...

I already have names picked out for my children, assuming I ever decide to have any. But I'm still young.

I too, name everything. Though I have yet to name my iPod, but whatever. My car has a name (Strider).

I think that when we name things we try to give them some semblance of a personality. Cause I cried when Strider was in an accident and I spent several weeks bemoaning the loss of my precious car.

But as people, I think that not only do our names give us a bit of a personality, but that we give the name it's own personality. A good example of this (both of the personality examples) is when we meet people and they're introduced as a Sarah and you think they should be an Amber instead.

We tend to expect something from the name. For example, when we call something a rose, we automatically picture a certain type of flower. When we hear somebody is named Ruth, a lot of people tend to assume an 80 year old lady who knits.

So (in my long rambling post) I'd say that yes, names have a personality all their own, but we also imbue them with our own personality and only part of that matches the name.

Most Megan's I've met tend to be blond and a bit on the ditzy side and yet I can't imagine not being a Megan. And as much as I love my middle name Nicole...it's a bit too sophisticated for my personality I think.

Do you get what I'm saying?

Ellers said...

I do get what you're saying, and I agree, particularly about us giving our own value judgments to names. For instance, I am not a fan of the name Bob. It scream "middle-aged man" to me. And, Bobby screams "little, lost boy." I'm sure there are some Roberts out there who are young and hip, but I have my personal biases, and chances are that they won't change.

Out of curiosity, do you mind sharing your names, and why you chose them?

Nicole Celine said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Kat said...

Don't worry too much about naming your kids. I plan on giving them nicknames that will be so awesome that they will adopt them forever and live so as to deserve them. Assuming you ever let me near them, of course.

Anonymous said...

Blog stalker here...and to give you one more hint, I am a SHE! I of course like most females I imagine have names picked out for my future children, but have always wondered if I am dooming them to have a certain personality by naming them. My name (which I won't give, because then I couldn't be the unknown blog-stalker anymore and it is sooo much fun) is a common one, yet I don't think I fall into the stereotypes of my name, although some may disagree. And to the girl named Megan...I have never met a blonde Megan and most of the ones I have met are not ditsy, perky and happy, but not ditsy. I think of Ashleys as blonde and ditsy.

I am very flattered that my Questions became a post...

Hope you have a great week Samantha!

Nicole Celine said...

Oh names for kids, I just now got that. Ha!

Tala Marie...I found the name Tala when I was writing a story for NaNoWriMo and I think Marie goes very well with it.

Alana Rose...Alana was another name I found when I was working on a NaNo and loved it. Though it's been used in other (published) stories.

I don't want to name my kids some common name that will make them turn around every five seconds when they think they're being called. But I don't want any really outrageous names either.

Samantha Elliott said...

Those are beautiful names, Alana and Tala - not too weird, not common. As far as ditzy Ashleys go, I know a couple of brunette, not-ditz Ashleys...and few of the others. I guess that goes to show that not everyone fits the bill.

Bailey Brian said...

I love that Bobby was an example! Cause I think of my dad as Bobby and your step dad as Bob. Bob seems so... blah... whats the word? uninteresting, boring, without any flair. I think Bobby sounds very country, funny, and young(in my dad's case young at heart)~

As to my opinion. I think we(oh man it has already started... the WE talk) will have multiple names picked out. I just dont want to give birth and then be surprised that "oh shit, He isnt a Ogden after all!"

So there you have it! Oh and your stalker, freaks me out!

Anonymous said...

Glad I could freak you out Bailey Brian! - Blog Stalker

Nicole Celine said...

So perhaps (I'm refining my opinion here to help fit in Blog Stalker's comments), part of how we perceive names is personal. We give each name that we hear it's own personality and then try to fit it to everyone of that name.

I can't say that about Ashley's though. I know one VERY smart Ashley and then a VERY dumb, annoying Ashley.

I guess it's time to go back to the thinking corner.