I’ve been pondering this question for a few weeks now. The power of names came to mind when I saw someone’s moniker that was spelled so far outside the norm a thousand authors with a thousand typewriters couldn’t have reproduced it if they’d had a thousand years to try.
I couldn’t sound it out phonetically. The letters appeared–to my eyes, anyway–in the wrong order. I actually had to ask how to say it and scratched my head when the sounds didn’t match even half of the letters in the spelling.
It led me to ask, what were the parents thinking, giving a kid a name like that? Did they hope that by giving a unique spelling it would give their daughter a unique identity? Did they not realize they had condemned this poor girl to having to spell her name out EVERY time she did anything? Having it mispronounced every time? Being left off of registration lists because the administrator simply couldn’t find her in the computer?
I know I risk offending some people out there, and I really don’t mean to, I’m just very curious about people’s motivations behind things like this. My personal thinking is that identity comes from the type of person someone is, the experiences they have, the engagement of their parents and their friends. Would you agree? Am I out to lunch on this one?
How much power does a name hold for you? Do you make immediate assumptions about a person based on the name they’re given? Does it really shape the person they’ll become? Do you assume a person with a wild spelling of their name must be an incredibly neat individual?
Shifting to fictional characters within books, would you not read a book about a Mary or a Peter because they’re simply spelled, old fashioned names? How about if Mary could heal the sick with a smile? What if Peter battled his way through a terrible childhood and went on to lead a nation out of poverty? Would you still think these two were ordinary? In the end, do the names make more of an impact, or the character’s personality and choices they make?
Some of my absolute favorite characters are named Abigail, who, at 106 years old still bakes her own bread and talks to God, and Stuart who’s much more than the red neck he first appears to be, both from Stephen King’s The Stand. Loved them both and never really considered their names as ordinary, because they weren’t ordinary.
Another of my all time favs is called Odd when his parents misspelled Todd on his birth certificate from Dean Koontz’s Odd Thomas. Thinking about him, his name is only a small piece of his character, the rest coming from his pride in being a fry cook and his ability to see dead people. *shrugs* Would it have been any different if his name had been Todd? I’m not sure it would have made a shred of difference for me.
How about you? Do you have a name with a unique spelling? Do you love it? Hate it? Would you change it if you could? I’d love to hear your thoughts on all of the above.