Monday, April 18, 2016

Names: A Discussion

For some people, names are a pretty big part of life. They define
who you are, what kind of person you are, what you're capable of, etc.

I am not one of those people.

Questions to think about while reading: Do you identify with your name? Do you think names affect personality? Do you find names important? Why do you think humans have names? Why are they such an important part of culture? Do you think names are important in your life? Do you judge people based on their name? Do you ignore names entirely? Have you ever thought about changing your name? Do you think changing your name is a good or bad thing? What do you think of names in general?

My Experience with Names:

I've never liked my real name. I don't doodle my name on every surface. I don't like signing my name. I don't even like when people just say my name.

Introducing myself has always been a challenge. Sometimes I just don't. I'll say "hi," and that's it. I swear, it's not me being shy, it's just the hatred I have for my name. Hearing it makes me cringe.

I've talked on here before about using a pseudonym. Obviously, it's just a safe thing to do. But when I originally came up with the name Skye Clover, that wasn't what I was thinking about.

But anyway, let's start from the beginning. My first name, and by that I mean my first fake name, or username, as most people call it, is a good place.

When I was around the age of...6 or 7 (I don't really know. It was a long time ago.), I created a Webkinz account. (Whether or not you know what Webkinz is is irrelevant to this discussion. It's a website for tiny humans and I made an account on it.) That is where the username koranika originates. Yes, I still use the username I came up with when I was 6. I still think it's a pretty good name to be honest.

I used koranika a lot on the internet. Until late 2014, it's the only name I ever used.

It wasn't until I created the email around the time I made this blog that I created the name Skye Clover. Though, honestly, I'd used the name Skye before that, but Clover was new.

Being the person that I am, both Skye and Clover have reasons for why I picked them as a pseudonym. Koranika actually doesn't, but I was 6 when I made it. I think I just made some sounds that sound cool.

Where does the name Skye come from? Well, it's actually a name my parents were going to name me but didn't. (How sad.) But they would have named me after the Isle of Skye, an island in Scotland. WHY WOULDN'T I WANT TO BE NAMED AFTER A PIECE OF PHYSICAL GEOGRAPHY????? REALLY.

Where does the name Clover come from? Well, ahem, this is actually a little more depressing. Clover was a cat I had for a little more than a year before she died on August 18, 2014. (That, coincidently, was the same day I got into My Chemical Romance.) You see, Clover is a name I'm really proud of. I love that name. It even fits into the pattern I have of naming all of my characters with names that start with C (the kind that makes a k sound) and have an l in them (Cleopatra, Clara, Cliena, Camille, etc.) But I wouldn't feel right naming another living thing the same name, so I made Clover my namesake. It's also a plant. A lucky plant!

And I thought Skye Clover had a pretty nice ring to it. Right? I'm not crazy. It totally does.

One of my favorite things, though, is naming other things, whether that be people or pets or instruments (I have still yet to come up with a name for my ukulele) or characters. I love coming up with names.

Most of my names have some sort of pattern to them. My pets are named mostly after gods. (I didn't get into naming them after gods until it was too late to rename some of them.) I have a dog named Loki, and cats named Isis and Serqet. (Serqet is the name in my email....) And, as I mentioned before, all my character names have a pattern as well.


Names in General:

Names are a pretty big part of human culture and day to day life. They're usually the first thing you learn about a person, and the first thing you have to judge them by.

Names are pretty important to literally every human religion, civilization, culture, etc. They've even been observed in other species like dolphins. They're a part of life and identity.

I've always found that kind of weird. I mean, pretty much no one gets to choose their own name. Sure, some do. Some people change their name. But most don't. Yet names are still such a big part of identity! Does your name affect your personality? (Yes, probably, at least a little.)

As someone who has never identified with their name...I always feel weird. I feel like names are supposed to be a defining part of your life. They're the first thing mentioned on your character profile. But usually your name is something that your parents chose. Not you.

So should you change your name to better match your personality? I say yes. A hundred times YES. Then again, maybe I'm the exception. Maybe most people identify with their names. Maybe they don't care.

A topic where names come up a lot is gender. Non-binary and transgender people commonly change their names to fit how they see themselves. If you see yourself as a man, having a traditionally female name is uncomfortable. It just doesn't seem like you. And I pretty much feel the same way. Even if Skye is also usually a female name, it's also I name that I chose. It feels way more like me. But why? Why does that even matter?

When I start talking about picking names, I usually think of Alaska from Looking for Alaska. Her parents allowed her to choose her own name, something most of us don't get to do. I love that idea because even if you do decide to change your name, it's still going to take people that already know you awhile to get used to it. Like, I've told people that I'd rather be called Skye. Did that happen? Haha. No. It really didn't.

Why are names so important?

No, really, I want to get into this discussion. WHY? I get that it's useful to distinguish people (which doesn't really work if we keep naming people after other people by the way), but why is it so important? Why has naming a child become such an important ritual in so many cultures?

Names have meanings. They're supposed to correspond with someone's personality, job, rank, etc., but what if they don't? What if your name means noble or kind, and you're...a serial killer? The name completely loses it's meaning. Right? Names nowadays mean pretty much nothing. It's all about how pretty it is or what sounds cool.

Anyway, after as much research as I could muster, I found, ahem, nothing. Humans (and a dolphins and stuff) use names for identification. But why are they so important to civilization? Why do we have separate male and female names? Why do names have meanings? I have no idea.

Human names go as far back as writing and history. As far as I can tell, there hasn't been much of a time when we haven't had names. Somehow, these names became a central part of culture and life. Naming your child is sometimes seen as the hardest decision you'll ever make for them. It just is.

Names in Books

But wait...this is a book blog! What do names have to do with books? Everything. Character names are chosen with a specific personality in mind. For many people, choosing character names is a long process for the same reason choosing your child's name is a long progress - it's going to stick with you and them, especially if your book becomes popular in any way.
I pay a lot of attention to the names of characters. Maybe that's just because I like names, I don't know. But just like with people, names are usually one of the first things you know about a character. It's a first impression, and that impression has to stick. Authors, including myself, choose names carefully. Sometimes they're named after somebody, the have an important meaning, or they contain some information as to what the book is about or the characters.
For example, I wrote a story with two sisters named Clara and Cleopatra. First of all, they follow my pattern of naming for my characters. They also are named in a way that shows a bit about their father, who is an archeologist (he's basically me in 30 years). Clara is named after the main character from the Nutcracker. (No, not from Doctor Who. I'm surprised too! I came up with this name before the Clara from Doctor Who was a thing.) Cleopatra is obviously named after the last pharaoh of Egypt. I put quite a bit of time into these names. They aren't just random. They provide clues as to the developing the character of their father later on. Their father is a pretty big part of the story actually.
In other words, I put as much time into character names as parents put into their children's names. (My characters are my children.)


I'm not sure if this is really a discussion or just an educational article about names with some more personal stuff thrown in. Though is it really educational if you end up with more questions now than when you started? Did you learn something?

Questions I have for you:

Do you identify with your name? Do you think names affect personality? Do you find names important? Why do you think humans have names? Why are they such an important part of culture? Do you think names are important in your life? Do you judge people based on their name? Do you ignore names entirely? Have you ever thought about changing your name? Do you think changing your name is a good or bad thing? What do you think of names in general?

Articles to check out if you want to learn more than I can explain (there weren't that many good ones, but I did get some information from these):

1 comment:

  1. Hello! I understand you so much, I'm obsessed with names! Even when I was a little child I did lots of research on my and friends or mine's names.
    I think I won't ever change my name but I sometimes thought about that: I don't hate my name but it doesn't communicate me anything. Everyone says it's beautiful because is sort of old but it's not a common name. But I'm happy for one thing I love how it looks in elvish (wow it sounded way better in my mind...)