Day 166 of 366: Blog Challenge 2012

Hello all

This morning I was propped up in my daughter’s bed (child minding) and I came across a News Feed on Facebook: “Would you Like to Change Your Name?” with a story about Barack Hussein Obama when he was running for President in 2008.

Later as I was ‘yelling’ out: Alice! Violet!  Hurry up you’ll be late!” for the fifth time, it reminded me of an article I read in The Week magazine in April called “What’s in a name?” and so when we came home, I found the article but first, I must share the story that Barack told about his name; it is delightful:

Obama’s unfortunate middle name: Hussein

“During his campaign for the White House in 2008, US President Barack Hussein Obama remarked at a formal dinner that he got his middle name from somebody who clearly never thought he’d run for President. 

 He was obviously joking but all good humour does have a basis in reality. And in post 9/11 America, the first black man to run for President probably wasn’t going to get a helping hand from having a middle name that most of us associate with an Iraqi dictator.”

This is a great story but it didn’t stop Obama from being elected President either. But it did cause me to think about my own middle name. Not that I have the name of a terrorist but I do have a middle Eastern name all the same! My middle name is ‘ASEEN‘ after my maternal grandmother, the one that was bedridden and I caused to laugh so often.

So … Do Names Matter? 

As a child, I did not like the name Aseen at all as the kids at school did laugh about it at times. But now that I am older, I feel very proud to be the only one of us six children to have a Lebanese name. So, do names matter? The Week says that although we don’t choose them, our names are almost like “badges” giving others information about us.

It seems that names apparently do matter … a bit anyway! The Romans used the expression “nomen est omen” (Latin I should imagine) which means: “name is destiny.” A bit scary perhaps?

You know like William Wordsworth being an English poet (words of course) Randy Vickers being a Church of England vicar! And more? Dan Spiller: a Queensland Water Commission CEO and Marion Moon being the mother of astronaut Buzz Aldrin. Makes you think, doesn’t it?

Has the way we name children changed? 

We all know names we refer to as “old-fashioned” names: “Lulu, Iris or Flora” come to mind although some names seem to remain evergreen like Daniel, Charlotte or Sophie. The last two being in the top five names picked for babies in Australia in 2011.

The name ‘Brittany’ conjures up a certain image

But then, how would you feel about a lawyer named “Brittany” who comes to help you defend a murder charge? Would you like that? Someone named Mary or even Judith might make you feel better methinks. Nah, not a Brittany!

And of course, there are all those names that people – read celebrities here – like to give to their children. You know the ones: Apple, River and Nicole Kidman’s daughter ‘Sunday’ spring to mind. And research shows that a name on a resume which looks African-American such as “Lakesia” does not get as much attention as a Caucasian name like Mary. Surprise surprise !

Is it good to have a popular name?

So you can see, there is something to this name business after all. And you can almost pick the era of the child with names like Lachlan and Lily, currently two of the most popular names in Australia.  Now, what about the pronunciation or spelling of ordinary names such as the name ‘Jane’ being spelled ‘Jayne’?  But there are worse ones out there for I have seen them when I was working with customers.

I have a couple of friends called Natasha but one likes to be called “Tasha” (short ‘a’) and another “Taasha” (with a long ‘a’) . How confusing this one becomes when you go to call one Taasha as Tasha and vice versa! My husband Geoff often gets called “Goff” because his particular name is not spelled as the popular ‘Jeff.’  He can laugh at it.

And how then do we react to our own names?  

You don’t often come across people who hate their names so much that they change them do you? In fact, we usually grow to love them. Apparently research shows that we are unconsciously drawn to things, people and places that sound like our own ‘beloved’ names.

This phenomena even has a name would you believe? “Implicit egotism“. It doesn’t sound too promising does it? A bit like a mental illness perhaps? An example: Sue Yoo from New York who became a lawyer! Yep, there were lots of examples in my reading folks.

So are our names our destiny? 

Well, the jury is still out on this one I am afraid. It seems that plenty of people manage to overcome all of the above obstacles to be highly successful people thank you very much. Research suggests that names do have what they classify as “influence” but only until you find out other factors about the person eg see a photo or meet the person.

She really knows how to market herself!

So this is good news. See, it is not so bad after all! I will leave you with this interesting thought from the mamamia website:

 “Would Lady Gaga have more Twitter followers than any other person in the world if she’d remained Stefanie Germanotta?”

I don’t think so somehow! Doesn’t quite have a ring to it does it? I could go on forever about names, especially as I like to call myself Tess instead of Theresa – but don’t get me started on nicknames at this stage of my blog as it is almost finished! Another topic for another day.

See you for  more fun tomorrow folks …