Monday, January 27, 2014

What's in a Name?

"What's in a name? That which we call a rose
By any other name would smell as sweet."
                        Romeo and Juliet (II, ii, 1-2)

In the well-known Shakespeare play, Romeo and Juliet, we find a couple whose families are at war with each other. In the famous quote above, Juliet tells Romeo she loves him—not his name nor his family—only him.  He could be called something else and it wouldn’t matter to her.

How did you receive your name?  Most of us were given one at birth by someone, and we had no choice in the matter.

Others come to this country with unusual designations and choose one more suitable for English language.  My daughter once interviewed a woman from Vietnam.  When Christy introduced herself, the lady responded with, “Theresa. “ The two laugh about it today.  Theresa chose her alias at the job interview. Her birth name from her country was unpronounceable by most of us in the USA.   When Christy asked for her name, Theresa came to mind and it popped out. 

Many authors chose a pseudonym. Perhaps they feel another name is more marketable.  I considered a penname when I began writing, but in the end, I kept the one my mother gave me as a tribute to her.

I’ve never cared much for my middle name, so I choose to use the initial as an author.  Now that I’m older, I actually enjoy hearing my long-time friends call me Gay Nell.  The nomenclature depicts deep roots and gives me a happy feeling.

A friend of mine met his life partner twenty-four years ago.  After she told him her name was Gay, their conversation went something like this. 

He said, “I bet I know your middle name.”

“You’ll never guess in a million years.”

“It’s Gay Nell.”

“No way could you know that.”

The four of us get together quite often, and when someone says, “Hey Gay," we both respond.

When our daughter married a man with the last name of Day, I jokingly offered my name if she ever had a baby girl.  She didn't think a baby named Gay Day would work.  Wonder why?  Seemed like a good idea to me.  She also rejected Wendy and Stormy.

I find it difficult to name a character in my books.  I don’t want to use names of people I know. Often I go to the internet or magazines looking for solid or romantic names.

How about you?  How did you get your name?  If you are a writer, how do you choose character’s names?  Do you have a penname?  If so, how did you choose it?  If you could legally change your name, what would it be? 

Do you agree with Shakespeare when he said, "What's in a name?"

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