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I remember as a child how my parents told me that my name John, translated as “The gods are great.” Or glamorous. Or graceful or gassy.
Something like that.
I found it amusing that my name would mean something other than just John and I never did know what language it was supposed to be.
With all the Johns in my school, it might have been “The gods are generous.” Very generous. I mean, every Tom, Dick and Harry was named John.
But what is in a name? Kabalarians profess that the alphabet has mathematical properties and that the letters in your name will determine your personality.
Your name defines who you are, what your strengths and weaknesses are, your mental and physical being.
Your success in life and your entire destiny totally depends on your name.
I once considered changing my name to Zortanbezzobog the Exalted High Wizard of Thunder, hoping that I’d get more respect from my friends. It didn’t work, so I decided to stay with John.
Okay, so yeah, the Kabalarians are mondo wackos. But placing importance on one’s name is far more commonplace than you might think.
Many names are trademarked. Go ahead and try to market a new munchie and call it Julia Child’s Chips. Try opening up a McDonald’s Masseuse Parlor or an Elvis Presley Pizza store and see how far you’ll get trying to use those names.
Of course, some names are quite safe even without trademarking. Really, how many people are going to try to market Limbaugh Lingerie or Cheney Cheerful Chewing Gum?
It can get weird however. Consider the baby name consultant. The first time I heard that people get paid to tell other people what to name their baby, I thought it was a joke.
“Uh, based on your family heritage, your occupations and how purple your kid’s face is, I recommend you name her Violet. That’ll be $100 please!”
No, seriously. People do get paid to do this (but with a little more panache than I might exhibit).
In fact, naming consultants are even hired to help people choose a name for their pet. Maybe that’s why you see so many Chihuahuas these days named Moose, Stallone or Chewbacca?
Of course, hiring a naming consultant will help prevent those embarrassing misspelled names.
“Gee son, we’re sorry you don’t like your name. It was an honest mistake. We really did think that Gregory was spelled e-l-i-z-a-b-e-t-h.”
Some countries have taken names to a new heights (or lows), setting legal limits on what names you can give to your children.
Sweden passed a law prohibiting first names that can be construed as “unsuitable.” Of course, this immediately prompted people to start naming their kids every unsuitable name in the book. Examples include “Lego,” “Metallica,” “A,” and “Elvis.” Elvis was the name given to a baby daughter.
Germany has naming laws that mandate gender identification. New Zealand prohibits names that are “potentially embarrassing” or “unreasonably long.”
Names such as “Adolf Hitler,” “Satan” or “Fish and Chips” would not be authorized. A set of twins however could be named Benson and Hedges.
Denmark has a list of about 7,000 government-approved names from which parents can choose. Iceland is even stricter, publishing a “Personal Names Registry” from which names must be chosen.
The list includes only 1,712 male names and 1,853 female names.
Of course, here in the United States, names are chosen from every nationality and culture imaginable. And to make it even more diverse, Americans seem to enjoy tweaking the spelling of every name.
I think there are 30 different versions of Erika and Katelyn, alone.
So, given all the variety of names we experience, what do they really mean? Do they mean anything at all?
Websites abound that will explain the meaning of your name. Perhaps your name means “mighty hunter” or “valiant and courageous.”
Or maybe “beauty and truth.”
It seems that everyone’s name means something wonderful. Did you ever notice that you won’t find one of those sites saying, “Your name means ‘pus infected scabby parasite?’ ”
I think I’ll reconsider Zortanbezzobog again. It did have some real possibilities.