Monday 16 May 2011

Wondering about names for the nth time

Do you know the famous poet, activist and diplomat Neftalí Ricardo Reyes Basoalto? Chances are that you might not know him. The name does not ring a bell. Do you know Pablo Neruda? Well, ofcourse. Neftalí Ricardo Reyes Basoalto was Pablo Neruda. The name was chosen Pablo (since it was a simple name and also belonged to Picasso) and Neruda (after the famous Czech writer Jan Neruda). Well, Pablo Neruda chose his own name!

Long time ago when I was growing up and  also around the time  I was revelling in my teens, names were carefully chosen by parents. Apart from the whole identity cliches, there are also other tags that have become synonymous with names. The names were believed to carve out destinies and mould an individual. If parents wanted their children to have leadership qualities, the chose names such as Alexander or Napoleon and if they wanted their children to become scientists, names such as Issac/Kepler or Radhakrishnan were chosen. There was a belief that the names will determine the character of the individual in concern. There were small bits of stories attached to names. Almost everyone knew the meanings behind their names and thus were able to rattle off name-histories without batting an eyelid. And above all people loved listening to personal histories behind names.

But sadly, or perhaps for the better, the whole concept of name-history is slowly being wiped off. Gen-X is not quite aware of the meaning of their names. Some of the names sound quite bizarre and almost downright incredulous (like the one in the image). The question: "Your name sounds nice, what does it mean?" draws blank looks as if I had asked them something completely stupid or senseless. Well, I might be a bit of a romantic when I talk of the past and the attitudes of the past but you must agree with me that name-histories are quite interesting.

Well, reader are you happy with your name or have you chosen to change it like Neftalí Ricardo Reyes Basoalto did? Do you know the meaning/history behind your name?

Image: Internet

Other NAME posts by me:

1. Dropping names and playing wise

2. Pausing to hear your stories

3. Mumbo jumbo of changing names

4. Roommate

5. Mamma calls me Joe

6. The big hype over retaining the maiden name or taking the husband's name after marriage


  1. Susan,
    Very cool article missy. Love the cartoon I just died laughing....

  2. Now I get why Neruda changed his name. Basoalto means overly ill-tempered. I think. Haha!

    I have a love-hate relationship with my name. It's antiquated and people either can't spell it or can't say it right. Got it from my dad who in turn got it from his dad. But now that I'm older, I've come to love it because it's unique and it gives me that sense of connection with my ancestral past.

    You're right though. Not many young people nowadays care about their names. Perhaps it's cuz they have American names like Michael or Spanish ones like Maria. It's hardly based on anything other than how Western it sounds. Bizarre names are not yet common in my country. We go for generic here.

    One naming tradition that I think is very Filipino is combining the names of the parents. For example, Luisiana (from Luis, the dad, and Ana, the mom). I thought it was silly, but now I find it cute.

    So Sus, what does your name mean? Why did you parents give you that name? Do you like it? Do you think it defines your character and personality?

  3. There is a southern U.S. tradition of naming children family surnames, or of giving them that name as a middle name, if that makes sense. I.e., my mother's maiden surname is Reagan, and I plan to name one of my children that (when I have kids). If I have more than one child, then one of them will have Reagan as a middle name. I find it a lovely way to keep a family name alive through the generations. Great topic, Susan!

    ~ Dawn

  4. I hated my name when I was wasn't a common name in India but now I like it. My parents had decided on a name when I was born but then my maternal grandfather who was into numerology decided to change one letter for 2 other letters which he reckoned were better for me...hence the 'different' name. But yeah, I like it now! :)

  5. I am so with you! I love to know the meanings and stories behind names! Names are very special and I believe that everybody has a "real" name, one that is meant for them alone...I am Colleen, I could not possibly call myself anything else. My parents chose the right name for was already my own name I believe before they chose it. Maybe that doesn't make much sense but I think the choosing of names is very important.


    Lovely thoughts and post Susan Deborah...have a wonderful day!

  6. i dont know that brian miller has much meaning to it...there was a time i wanted to change it to something cooler...ironically when i met my wife i was goofing around and told her my name was Roman Michaels...

  7. Hello Susan:

    Well I like my name and it has probably served me well being a visionary since the crib.

    I can remember my Mothers name book she used to pick the name of my youngest brother, so perhaps she used it for me.

    My first name, Michael means like onto God and my middle name Neal, means the strength of God.

    I've needed this strength often during my years here in this body.

    Thanks for this entry,

  8. Names--they are tricky little devils aren't they? I remember choosing names for my kids--the agony! I choose two good ones though and they suit them!

  9. i always wanted my name to be John. Hence I chose it for my blog!!

  10. I have quite a story behind my name..maybe I'll share it with you elsewhere.

    Here all I can say is my 'current' name means- a companion for an evening talk/ early morning fragrance


  11. As usual Great article. Wish I had the passion and time like you to blog.

    anyway, back to names...being a ghost writer has its advantages..can write any nonsense under any name and get away with it. Don't much care about my real name though anymore as long as I can make a few bucks to enjoy life.

  12. My mother got my name from a novela she was listening to. So, I don't suppose it has much depth in that sense. But, it's core is Mary or Maria. I guess there's some meaning there - I was religious as a child and I prayed to Mary. It gave me much comfort.

    I love the graphic. I know what you mean about the names people chose. As for me, I'm happy with my name.

    Take care, thoughtful Deborah.

  13. Haha my name has a funny little story behind it..since I already had an elder brother, my mum and dad really hoped they'd have a daughter but an aunt of mine (who claimed to have a sixth sense about such things) kept insisting they'd have another son. And then, when I popped out, they thought I was like a miracle child becoz they'd wished for a daughter.

    So, they named me Karishma which means a miracle in Farsi and Urdu. :D Also, a certain nurse gave my mum a Filmfare magazine to read before going to the labour ward and Karishma Kapoor gave an interview in it which my mum read and loved the name!

    I really love mine actually and wudnt change it for the world..what about you, Susan? How'd you get your name? Were you named after anyone? :)

  14. Oh and loved this idea for your post..and am rather amazed at the readers you've amassed, people who range from so many different places and cultures. :) Your blog is such a wonderful place, my dear Susan! :)

  15. I still believe in names with a meaning,thankfully my parents named me Alpana,which means rangoli..a design used to draw on the doorways of houses.I named my daughter Aishani..which means The Goddess Durga.Loved the picture..

  16. I reckon I have one of the plainest names you can get but I doubt if it's harmed me at all. I do lie to remember the "C" though.

  17. Here are some basic tips for name giving in my country:

    - the name should consist of at least three (3) letters.

    - a girl's name should end in a vowel (i.e. Noga, Adi).

    - the new born should not be named after a family member who died tragically.

  18. Oh, what a great post.;) Yes, I am delighted about my name. I feel it is beuatiful and I love the Slavic spelling of it.;)
    The meaning of my name is "White Lily" and is comes from Hebrew origins. The old name was Shoshanna or to likes of that. It is linked to a story of "Susannah in the bath" from the old testament.;)
    Have a great dear Susan, always a pleasure to stop by here.;))

  19. And may I add that as we share the same name, I wonder whether you are happy with yours?;))

  20. enjoyed your post and 'yes' is my answer.

    great cartoon! lol!

  21. I always prefer names with history attached to it. My actual name is Moitreyee which means friendship. never liked it much but beginning to appreciate it. What does yours mean Susan? Thanks for sharing that bit about Pablo Neruda, didnt know his real name. I love his poems

  22. my own name actually means god is gracious - however, not holding an orthodox religious view at all, this meaning has no meaning to me - however, i do believe that we each have a light within us - our spirit light - and in that sense, then i am gracious - there is a world war II song "jeannine i dream of lilac time" which is actually the basis of my having been named jenean by my parents - and having traveled all my entire life, literally since birth, and being a free-spirit, the only name possible for me on my several blogs is "gypsy" - so, there you have my little name[s] stories, lady!! have a glorious day!

  23. oh, and you know how you and i are SUCH neruda lovers!!!

  24. Hello Susan -

    When we were choosing names for my 2 boys, I told my wife at the time I wanted normal Christian names. I don't care so much for all the intense thoughts involved with naming a child with some unknown and ridiculous name with the idea that "no one else will have this name" or "how cool is this unique name"?!

    I named my boys; Christopher (Christian, Christ) and Jonathan (John the apostle, John the Baptist). And I also knew something else that most parents will not consider. While every parent was naming their boys: Jake, Tyler, or other "cool names"; no one was naming their boys simple, common names. My boys don't having many Christophers and Jonathans in their high school.

    Great post, Susan. :)

  25. Jessica:

    I liked the cartoon as soon as I saw it. It is kick-ass.


    Loved your name history. I guess many traditions have the custom of naming children with their parents' names. Even we have it here.

    And, you know the history of my name and I like it for it has become me.

  26. Great post Susan! I chose the names of my daughters carefully and each name has a meaning. Luckily my girls like their names :)

  27. Dawn:

    The tradition of naming is quite interesting, Dawn and I like yours as well.


    Uncommon names are great conversation starters, you see. I'm sure people would be curious to know the meaning and story behind your name. And I'm glad that you have started liking your name and didn't change it.

  28. Hello again:

    Here is some beautiful music that I hope you will enjoy:

    Happy weekend,

  29. Colleen:

    I like the way you've said: " . . . it was already my own name." We share a relationship with names, don't we?


    Unlikely name but nice.

  30. Brian:

    Roman Michaels?!?! How did you ever come up with such a name and remember it after all these years?


    Visionary, yes! Lovely names and tradition, Mike. We all have our name stories.

  31. Betty:

    But how was yours chosen, Betty? Would like to know.



  32. Sameera:

    We should talk, sometime about your name. Lovely and romantic meaning behind your name, Sameera.


    You never shared your name's story, Tariq.

  33. Myrna:

    Names become us and we become them. The picture, yes. It is quite hilarious.


    My dear little miracle.

    As for my name: My name, ofcourse does not reflect my culture but is Biblical. Susanna is the name of the flower Lily in Hebrew and Deborah was a prophetess and woman judge. I guess I do have some traits of my names. My gut instinct is quite powerful (maybe like that of a prophet). My sun sign is Libra which is symbolised by scales. Deborah is a judge who balances judgments and scales are connected to that. My parents prayed over my name and then christened me. It was definitely not some run-of-the-mill things. And, I like my name. Afterall it has been there with me for 32 long years. I cannot part with it!

    And, my readers are invaluable. They are from different places, cultures and have lot of stories. I cherish them :)

  34. Alpana:

    Your name resounds you, dear Alpana.


    Welcome here and thanks for the time taken to record your insight. david was a mighty king and great poet. You must be proud to possess this name :)

  35. DUTA:

    I hope people follow these diktats in today's modern world.



  36. Zuzana:

    Whenever I discuss my name, my mind automatically thinks of you, dear Zuzana. And, I love our names. It is rather special.



  37. Rimly:

    Lovely sounding name: Moitreyee! But how did Rimly come about? Neruda was a poet who was a man of senses. His poems reverberate that.

    My name, ofcourse does not reflect my culture but is Biblical. Susanna is the name of the flower Lily in Hebrew and Deborah was a prophetess and woman judge. I guess I do have some traits of my names. My gut instinct is quite powerful (maybe like that of a prophet). My sun sign is Libra which is symbolised by scales. Deborah is a judge who balances judgments and scales are connected to that. My parents prayed over my name and then christened me. It was definitely not some run-of-the-mill things. And, I like my name. Afterall it has been there with me for 32 long years. I cannot part with it!


    Lovely analogy, Jenean. Religious or not, we imbibe the characteristics of our names, I reckon. And Neruda, isn't he just wonderful and sensuous.

  38. Charlie:

    Here you go!.

    Biblical names are the most common and favourable ones. They carry meaning and history.

    Thanks for visiting, Charlie. Great to have read your insights :)

  39. We didnt name any of our children until we met them. In Indonesia, it used to be that we had 40 days to get to know the baby, but they have slowly gotten away from that and are now naming babies in the hospital as we do in the U.S. But my husband and I both felt that we wanted to at least meet our children before we named them. Some kids, it came to us right away, and others, like our last baby, it took awhile.

    Would you believe they gave us such an attitude and a hard time at the hospital because we weren't ready to name her and settle the birth certificate papers on the fist day?!? Let alone the second day! Sheesh!

    It took us awhile, but the name we now have for her just feels right. It suits her.

  40. Sofia:

    Great to know your way of naming and yes, hospitals do have a funny attitude to certain things.

    Joy always :)



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