Monday, December 17, 2007

Would a rose by any other name...

On the mad merry go round of getting ready for the new arrival, one of the decisions that there is most support about making is that of a name. In fact, it is easier to find out the meaning of a name, or the list of most popular names, or the least popular, or the strange and weird names you could use than it is, say, finding the statistics for c-sections (I know… I will stop ranting about that now). There are endless websites, discussion boards and articles on the topic.

Being a theologian by background, a name is very important to me. Under Judeo-Christian theology your name is your being, your essence and your power, it defines who you are. Hence the statements in my favourite gospel (yes, I have a favourite gospel and I know that makes me a bit strange) of "I am" to define the difficulty of a theological mystery of what and who Jesus purported to be. So, I have taken the naming of the Bump rather seriously.

Thankfully the accuracy of pre-natal scans these days mean that I can rule out names for boys. This was a real problem in our parents' era. After mulling and discussing my sister's name for quite some time, and coming to a compromise solution, Mum and Dad were convinced I would be a boy and only had boys names picked out. When I turned out not to be a future England fly half (sorry Dad) but of entirely the wrong flavour I imagine a bit of a panic in the delivery room while my parents hit on the entirely sensible solution of picking the names of my two grandmothers. A quick and easy way out if ever there was one, and thankfully neither grandmother was named Phyllis.

The same theory applies brilliantly to boys names for us. One grandfather on each side has a cool, and quite popular, name and so we had decided on boys names ages ago. However, Bump has, on every scan, proven that she is a she, and so we were back to square one.

We went back to the old faithful of family names of the grandmothers. None are especially bad, but none really got us all that excited either. I also don’t think it helped that our grandmothers were all very strong characters and their very distinction makes it hard to project their name onto our daughter. It would be difficult, for example, to imagine my maternal grandmother without her bottomless handbag full of scents, powder and cigarettes - my memories of her are always as someone fantastically glamorous, distant and fascinating (for those who don't know, Mum's side of the family are Italian so inherently glamorous until the gene pool became sufficiently diluted in me). Calling my daughter the same name would rob her of her own chance to forge her own identity, which is what a name is all about.

So, we moved onto whether we could use derivations of the grandmother's names and hit upon a brilliant solution. The shorter version of the Boy's grandmother is a lovely name. Short, biblical (which I rather like), and the name of a very strong woman. We both loved it.

Then to the middle name. We might be being a bit odd, but we thought that having a Chinese middle name would be a nice idea. Bump is being born in China, and a fair chunk of her early years will be spent here. Giving her a Chinese name would give her a nice link back to her place of birth, as well as being unusual and interesting.

However, Chinese naming is a nightmare, so much so that my girlfriend S has still not named her daughter 4 weeks after she was born! The problem comes in the fact that almost all Chinese names mean something tangible, so you end up with "prosperous future", or "golden luck" or some such. Then, once you have found something where you like the meaning you need to check whether it sounds nice or, if mispronounced, could be mistaken for something dull and rude - "Pleased to meet you muddy puddle" doesn't sound so great.

To pick the Chinese name, and combine it with the sound of my grandmother's name proved quite a task. We also wanted something related to water. The Boy and I speak no Chinese other than taxi directions (and my daughter is not going to be called "turn left and stop after the lights"), so we set the challenge to our colleagues. They grasped the task and came up with some great ideas. In the end one of the Boy's colleagues came up with a brilliant name. It is related to water, sounds uncannily like my grandmother's name, and is very pretty.

The only problem now is learning to say it...

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