Thursday, 15 August 2013

what's in a name?

A sunflower not a rose, but the best I could do - we don't have any roses in the garden!

Romeo and Juliet Act II, Scene II

 Juliet.  ’Tis but thy name that is my enemy;
Thou art thyself though, not a Montague.
What’s Montague? it is nor hand, nor foot,
Nor arm, nor face, nor any other part
Belonging to a man. O! be some other name:
What’s in a name? that which we call a rose
By any other name would smell as sweet;
So Romeo would, were he not Romeo call’d,
Retain that dear perfection which he owes
Without that title. Romeo, doff thy name;
And for that name, which is no part of thee,
Take all myself.
(Sourced here)

So Juliet clearly distinguished between the person she knew as Romeo, and the name Romeo itself, which she views as "no part of thee".  What do you think?  Do you consider your name to be part of you?  What is a name after all - a string of letters, a grouping of sounds?  Is it that simple - is it just a word, or does it hold power?  

Sticking somewhat tenuously to the literary theme, and thinking back to childhood fairy stories, Rumplestiltskin's name certainly held power over him, and in fact turned out to be his undoing.  For the rest of us, our name is a far more public issue, though admittedly more public for some than others - just consider that baby boy born in London last month, and how big of a deal his name was!

Part of me sees names as words, and names as sounds, but conversely can there be a more intimate collections of sounds than those that we choose to represent our very selves?  I think the choice bit is important - after all, whose choice is it?  Who chose your name?

I choose to change my name as soon as I was eighteen, to create a line in the sand, a before and after, and then again when I married in 2002, so I've had experience in this area!  Taking on Mr Manley's name was kind of a default decision, which I later regretted for just that reason.  So now, as a family, we've made a decision.

We're changing it.

All of us.

And the story continues

Have you ever thought of changing your name, or have you done it?  Keep your eyes peeled (what a very odd phrase, when you actually think about it...) for the next names post, to see what we came up with!


  1. I know another family who choose a new name together, and I loved the radicalism of it. Good for you... x

    1. Thank you Leoarna, I've had some . . . shall we say less positive reactions from other people! I understand it's different if you have family who feel you're rejecting 'their' name, but we don't have anybody, so we're starting with us!
      Thanks for reading and saying hi, hope you'll be back!

  2. The question of a name is such an intimate and tough one. I know some people who hate their name. Really hate it, but still don't change it. Some change how they are called but not their name. We called our youngest Jonathan, which I think is a beautiful name, that also has meaning to us. But nobody calls him that. We all call him JonJon or Yon, because it's just to serious for him.
    As for a family name, I had issues with mine for a long time, and happily changed it when I got married. I don't really care about my last name to be honest, just that it's easy to say and write and the same for all of us. I don't think I could change my given name.
    I think what makes a family is love. Not a name. And I also thin it's such a lovely idea to change it all together. Good luck :)

  3. You're right Orli, it's all about the love! One of the problems we've had with the surname we have right now is that it is very often misspelt, which causes all kinds of difficulties with prescriptions and consultants!
    Tune in next time to find out what it's going to be!


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