A rose by any other name would smell as sweet.

So, I love names. They’re one of my favorite things to talk about, which might sound weird, but I love to chat about what names people like/dislike/absolutely abhor. It gives me something of a peek into someone’s personality in an unusual way, and it’s always fascinating to me to realize how diverse we are as people when it comes to our interests. It never fails to astound or even amuse me that there are people out there who are completely enamored of the name Kaidyn, for example  – if you’re one of those people, I mean no offense! In fact, if you read this post, you’ll see that some of my favorite names are arguably 10x worse than that or Jayden or Starlight or Brfxxccxxmnpcccclllmmnprxvclmnckssqlbb11116, pronounced Albin. (Okay, maybe not that last name, which incidentally is a true example from Sweden. And maybe not Starlight either, but you get my point, I hope.)

Here in the UK we don’t have strict laws when it comes to baby names. In other countries such as France, Germany, and Iceland, there are lists of names that you simply cannot use for your child. Case in point: it’s illegal to name your son Tom in Portugal! Tomás is fine, but Tom isn’t. I think it’s wacky. I also read recently that Icelanders are not allowed to use gender-ambiguous names for their babies. I find this far too intrusive for a government – I won’t stop the banning of names such as Talula Does The Hula In Hawaii (another real example), but it seems a violation of rights not to allow parents to use the name Tom, as if it’s going to harm the child.

The UK does have limitations of course, although I’m not an authority on what those are. I know that when an adult changes their name by deed poll, they’re not allowed to use titles such as Lord or Lady, because that’s deceptive, but they’ve allowed names to pass such as Jellyfish McSaveloy (real example!), so we’re not all that strict about it, at least. While I feel like we shouldn’t allow anyone’s parents to choose the name Jellyfish McSaveloy for them, if a grown adult wants to choose it, I don’t see the problem, despite how seriously I can’t take it as a real name.

I’m sure there are countries who either ban or frown upon people using names from other languages/countries – certainly people don’t tend to embrace it with open arms. But if I want to name my daughter Hildegard, why can’t I? If I were in Germany/Austria/any German-speaking country, it wouldn’t be a problem, so the fact that I’m on British soil surrounded by British people shouldn’t make a difference. There’s a slough of English names that I detest, yet I wouldn’t and don’t object to their use. If I accept your Kodie and your Diamond and your Braydyn, even though I’m hating them in my mind, you’ll have to accept my Christoph and Constanze and Hildegard. (Incidentally, I’m not planning to call my daughter Hildegard – I’m saving it for my cat now!)

Names are so important to a person, yet completely insignificant, in my view at least. I always think of names as our main identity markers, and they are, and my color-grapheme synesthesia means that each person’s name gives them a sort of aura for me. But I think someone changing their name isn’t such a bad thing. In fact, if I could have a different name every year or two, I’d totally do it – I’ve always wanted to try experiencing the world as a Grace or an Elizabeth or even a Hildegard just to see what it’s like, hence the post title – a Sascha by any other name would smell as sweet (I hope!). Not even to observe people’s perceptions of me or anything, but just to see how it is. But of course, and I don’t blame them, people would not take kindly to having to keep up with such a thing, and I don’t fancy having to apply for new bank cards and passports every 20 months!

Anyway, I don’t have a specific point to make; I just wanted to ramble about names. If I have children, I think they’re going to end with multiple middle names so that I can fit in some favorites! And as much as I’m attached to certain names, my children have the right to choose to go by a different one if they don’t like what I’ve given them. Your name is your primary identity marker, and you should be able to have it be whatever you like. Just so long as you’re not desiring your legal name to be Farty Fucker, I suppose!

What inspired me to write this post was that a good friend of mine has recently set up a Twitter for an onomastics website (onomastics.co.uk). Onomastics is the study of names, as you might have guessed. Whenever I can afford to return to university to study another undergrad degree, I’d choose English Literature w/ English Language, and I’d lap up those onomastics/linguistics papers! Words fascinate me, frightfully so. Maybe that’s why I’m a writer. Probably.

Toodle-oo! (How does one spell that, anyway?)

Note: My friend doesn’t know that I wrote this blog post, by the way. I didn’t do it for advertising or anything like that!


One thought on “A rose by any other name would smell as sweet.

  1. My friend’s mother is called Hildegard, but that’s an unrelated thought. This is a very nice and thoughtful post, thank you – I hold a lot of Views on German naming laws, and I prefer the British Deed Poll system to the German bureaucratic nightmare of naming. Names mean different things to different people, and it’s not really something you can generalise I think – I’d argue that international names are a beautiful thing because they imply tolerance and understanding of the diversity of humanity, and they do not really pose a problem – I enjoy explaining the spelling and pronounciation of my name, it makes people talk to each other in a world where people seem to need excuses like that to have a conversation, so I see it as a good thing. Thank you for sharing your views and pointing out the interesting aspects of names 🙂


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