When I was born one Sunday morning many years ago, it was my father who came up with my name. On the way to the hospital, so I have been told.
I do not know what possesses parents to ponder, consult and study books- to come up with a “suitable” name for their off-spring. These days a lot of serious factors play into the decision. Class is a major one and Germany has many lovely examples of just how wrong you can go with what turns out to be a “LABEL” for life.
I was totally unaware of this before I moved here, I must however admit that those names did already have negative connotations before the eye opening socio-economic disclosure.
You see, I am talking about names like Kevin and Justin or Chantall and Jacqueline These boys names are perfect examples in English speaking areas, as are Jacqueline and Chantall in French speaking countries…but here in Germany, you only hear those names on “imported” daytime soap operas. What appears to be an innocent connection between the daylight viewing time, is in fact equal to work day showing time – with emphasis on the “work-day”. Thus it directly brings the people who are able to watch, while others work, into the foreground: And here in Germany that is akin to the group or class of people who receive aid from the government and do nothing but watch T.V. and give their kids the names of their favorite characters.
This is not my opinion, but is very visible in the German school system. Starting with Elementary School – teachers treat children with such names differently. Teachers prefer children with classic names, such as Laura or Luca, as a matter of fact there is a trend to return to names ending with the letter “a”. It appears that such names inspire respect and presume intelligence. Or so people seem to think.
I agree that attention should be paid to choosing a name. After all, we are stuck with them until we die. With a chuckle, I remember Frank Zappa’s daughters’ name: Moonbase or his sons’ – Dweezil. For sure, they did not have an easy time in school, but perhaps because they were privileged by their fathers’ fame, it was bearable for them. There are endless strange choices out there, but keeping in mind that those children and later grown-ups do not live in a bubble that protects them from the ridicule of others, we should choose wisely, uninfluenced by trends or soaps or drug induced creativity(some surnames are plenty of a burden, no need to make it worse).
I was named Dorothea Roberta, and baptized, as was the norm on the third day before being taken home from the hospital. Honestly, I have no idea what inspired my Dad to come up with such a mouth-ful of letters, for such a tiny thing that I was. I remember asking him about it, but i don’t recall what he said and I can no longer ask him.
Growing up, I found it hard to have such an uncommon name. No one else in all my school days was called the same. There was one girl on my street, in my childhood, but her name was actually Dorothee. I often asked myself, why I could not have been called something cooler or at least more every day. One relief was that the nickname Doro stuck from the beginning. As all kids know, when the parents address their ‘spawn” by their full christian names – something was up! But the rest of the time the shortened version ruled(so why not forget about the long string of letters)?
Of course, I came across the meaning of my name at some point in my life. Doro+thea(Greek) = gift of god or more accurately, gift of the goddess(Roberta, coincidentally is old German and means bright fame, if you believe the books).
While I lived in Iran and then the States, I was called Dorothy. I was constantly asked about the red shoes (How was I supposed to know about the Wizard of Oz…) Click your heels and you’ll be back in Kansas! I guess it seemed funny, to them.
Dorothea, became the center point of many small talk discussions after I arrived in Greece. It being a Greek name, it led to questions of whether I was Greek. If no then at least my father or mother must be Greek. Then the assumptions were carried to the generation before my parents. No to those queries, we usually met with-well then your father must have had something to do with Greece at some point. That was not the case either.
I don’t think that my father had any idea that life would bring him and all of us to Greece one day. Nor do I believe that he was thinking of the meanings of the names, that Sunday morning on the way to hold me in his arms for the first time. That would have been unlike him. “I am going to see my new born daughter and for good measure I will name her – gift of god, bright fame!” Nahh, unbelievable!
I do hope that while he was alive, I made him proud and that he felt that I did his choice justice. I have grown into my name and am pleased that I can at least work on being that part of the “gift” – to his memory and still now to my Mom. I tried and am still trying.