Living with Your Name

July 1st, 2008
by Alfonso Ebanks

[private] v6-7-Our IslandsIt is becoming quite an acceptable practice for us islanders to place strange first names on our children. Many of us use first names that we have borrowed from other languages like Alfonso (Spanish), Stalin (Russian), Pierre (French), Giovanni (Italian) and so on. Others use the names of places like Richmond, Paris, Chelsea and Ashley. We also use surnames from our own language for given names like Kelly, Olsen and Evans.

Some people use common words from English and other languages as first names, such as Love, Faith, Hope and Joy, Consuelo and Caridad. Yet there are other names that imply conditions, such as Virginia, Patricia and Royal. Names like Bill, Dave, Dale, Willie, Jack and Tom etc. are diminutive forms of other English names, but we don’t do our research and we use these short nicknames as formal names. Very few of us have ever bothered to find out where our name came from and most of us have never ever heard the word onomastics, much less know what it means.

Names have always been with us or at least from the time we learned to speak.

For ages one personal name was sufficient to identify a person in a clan or small group of people. As the size of our clans and tribes increased, duplication of names caused a bit of a problem and a lot of confusion, so a surname was added to facilitate identification.

I once believed that the low level of formal education of the parents was the reason that some folk picked strange names for their children. Now I think that the strangest names come from parents with low levels of social sophistication, and this seems to be true in all cases without regard to the level of formal education attained by the parents.

Social sophistication is an acquired condition; it cannot be learned in a classroom even though reading classical and modern-day authors helps the aspiring “sophisticate” to develop a convincing vocabulary. To become a social sophisticate one must always be aware of the people that surround oneself, and one must listen carefully to their speech in order to determine their level of social sophistication.

Money can be a very effective tool in the acquisition of social sophistication. The new world order of social sophisticates can very easily be convinced that money is all it takes to admit a new member into their order. But in this case the aspiring new member must be loaded; in other words, the new member must be rotten rich. You should know that if you acquire your social sophistication from coming into a pile of money, you should do more listening than talking because reverting to your original non-sophisticated way of speaking can give you away. If you had a strange name before you joined the club, you don’t have to worry about that as a member of the club will find an adequate nickname for you, and in most cases they will forget your original moniker at least until your money is done.

Consider very carefully the name you pick for your child as it will have to last for a lifetime. As long as your child lives on the islands, there will be no problem with his name. But if the child should ever go somewhere else, there they will notice the difference. There is nothing more embarrassing than having to explain your given name to someone. You must forgive your father for putting a bad name on you and you must forgive your mother for doing nothing about it. [/private]

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