Wednesday, September 4, 2013

Why not Trythings? What’s in a name?

Over the last six weeks I have been introduced to a wide variety of names. Obviously the Setswana names have been a challenge to grasp both in terms of meaning and pronunciation. It becomes even more troublesome when I need to contact someone.  I am often sent a message and told to “email Lekone.” Since I cannot begin to even guess Lekone’s gender, or whether I’ve been given a first name or a surname for that matter, I have learned to err on the side of caution.  Most of my emails now begin with “Dear Sir or Madam.” I am seldom so formal in my personal interactions, but I don’t like to risk the possibility of offending someone.

However, the English names I have encountered here are just as challenging.  In recent years in the U.S. parents have attempted to become much more unique in naming their children.  Just look at some of the names celebrities have bestowed upon their offspring: Sage Moonblood, Prince Michael/Blanket, or most recently North West! Makes me wonder how Sandra Bullock’s son, Louis, is faring at school.  Does he get beat up on the playground during recess by the kids telling him, “Your Mommy didn’t love you enough.  If she did she wouldn’t have given you such a NORMAL name!”

In Switzerland they take everything seriously, including names.  There is no room for creativity.  Names must be chosen from a pre-approved registered list and no amount of fame or money can buy you the rights to name your child after biblical villains (Cain or Abel), places (Ireland or Paris) or brands (Armani); reverse gender naming (naming a boy Kelly) or using surnames as first names.

Here in southern Africa names tend to have some kind of meaning behind them.  Though not direct religious references, many have a connotation similar to spiritual attributes: Patience, Charity, Immaculate, Gift.  I asked Gift (a man) about his name.  He told me his parents were unable to have children.  After nearly twenty years they finally conceived.  Since they knew he would be their only child, they considered him a gift, and named him so.  Silence, also a man, informed me his name was the result of having too many loud and boisterous personalities in his family and his parents’ hope that this child would be a bit quieter.  We were seated next to one another for a dinner and based on our conversation his parents did not get what they wished for.

My favorite name thus far is one which would be most appropriate for my child: Trythings.  Trythings was the name of the manager at my hotel in Zimbabwe.  I was happy to run in to Trythings before I checked out and asked him about his name.  He told me, “My parents are adventurous people.  They think it is important to have lots of experiences and try different things.”  I think his parents are brilliant.  I could not agree more.

No comments:

Post a Comment