Friday, January 13, 2012

What’s there in a name?

William Shakespeare (may he sleep sound in his grave) couldn’t have been further from the truth when he quoted this. I mean, let alone the fact that in today’s scenario, it’s a person’s name that decides everything, from the ease in getting an e-mail address to a customer support executive being able to pronounce it, even in the times that have been, I am sure names played a significant part. Just imagine, for instance, if a dear friend of Shakespeare found his name too cumbersome and decided to shorten it to Willy Shake, out of affection, the kind of embarrassment it would’ve caused! Alright, maybe ‘willy’ wasn’t the slang for the instruments back then, but there must have been an alternative.

Sometimes I think parents name their children based on how much they love or hate them. Like this one bloke I bumped into, for example. His name was Samay (Time, in English). Needless to say, the rest of the evening was spent making him the butt of every joke. Like when he stopped dancing, people quipped “look! Time has stopped”. Reminds me of one of my ex-super bosses. He said that when the time came to name his kids, he came up with endless options and then sat down to figure exactly how each one of them could be mutilated and turned into a joke. And then froze on the two names that seemed most immune. Now, that’s a fine example of fatherly love!

For those who will probably pick on me saying I am quoting Willy boy out of context and the complete quote was "What's in a name? That which we call a rose by any other name would smell as sweet.", I differ. Everyone has a name that suits their persona. It’s all about spotting it. Like I know these two sisters, Sandhya and Roshni. Incidentally, Sandhya is as fair as the white wedding dress of a bride and Roshni, well, let’s just say she can never make an image for herself, she can only make a silhouette. Not that I am complexion biased, it’s just that their parents could have reversed the names of the twins because not only is it a complete opposite of their skin colour, it’s also an opposite for the kind of people they are. Sandhya is vivacious, outspoken, restless, and always on the edge whereas Roshni is calm, sober, passive to the point of being a mannequin.

Coming back to the point, names are rather significant. Hence, there should be a few basic rules that should be followed any deviation from the rules should be penalised.

Ease of pronunciation: Absolutely not open for a debate. Names being internationally pronunciation friendly is a must. Take it from someone who has heard his name being mutilated to an extent that he chose to cut it short. Me. Or like this friend of mine, Shahnaaz. Lovely name (lovely girl, too) with a lovely meaning. Means The Royal Pride and translates into ‘a princess’ but a nightmare to pronounce, for those who’re challenged in that regard. On the other hand, there is this friend of mine called Jim (no, not Morrison). One simply can’t go wrong with a name like that!

Ease of spelling: As I see it, all names should be spelt phonetically. Again, comes from someone who has borne the brunt. Me. Like this woman called Kkashish. So, should one stress on the ‘K’? Or Schwarzenegger, for example. I know very few people who get it right.

Avoid religious connotations: Because if one doesn’t, in case of a communal riot or ethnic cleansing drive, one might be, let’s say, rogered. Better safe than sorry, as it’s said. Like with people named Bhagwaan or Christian. What will happen to them if they are caught by fanatics?

Should sound good: Meaningful or less, they should sound good. Like there is this friend of my parents’ called Drishtipriya. Fine meaning but a torture on the tongue! And sound terrible. On the other hand, look at names like Tom, Joy, Rita, Anita etc. One just can’t go wrong with these!

As it is, in India, with the whole multi ethnic, multi cultural brew, finding the right name is probably just as tough as bringing up the child itself because a name is something that sticks. It’s one’s identity!

So, I am all set for Willy Shake’s nightmares tonight because he will clearly not like me taking a dig him. And this has turned out to be a long post. I am bored and have been remarkably patient about writing this, given my serious ADD. Hope you liked reading it and saw a semblance of sense in it too.



myconoclast said...

thank you. shall keep it in mind so i can save my kids from the torture.
on the other hand, a different name is also a memorable one!

Scribbl-O-Phile said...

indeed. that was the very purpose of this post. to create awareness of the torture kids can be put through thanks to a proper noun! and different doesn't essentially have to mean open to jibes, does it? :)

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