Friday, January 14, 2011

What's in a name?

Giving a name to something is a task not to be taken lightly, lest you (or the person) regret it for the rest of your life.  Names can have tradition, special meanings, or just sound good.

I learned recently that my friend's daughter's name, Lorien, comes from Lothlórien, the forest realm of the Elves in J.R.R. Tolkien's Lord of the Rings. Being a fan of Lord of the Rings myself, I thought this was incredibly cool, and I was more than a little jealous that I didn't think to do the same for my kids. (However, my online alias is Radagast, a wizard from LoTR, and I once played a Fennec fox whose name was Nimrais, meaning "White Ears" in Tolkien's Elvish language, so I do get to claim some Tolkien geekiness.)

In a recent online comic strip, Questional Content, a mother yells at her son using his full name, as mothers are wont to do, "Martin Tiberius Reed!" His friends are stunned and ask her in reverent tones, "Is his middle name really Tiberius?", referring of course to Captain James Tiberius Kirk, of Star Trek fame. Hilariously, his mom admits, "It WOULD be, if his father weren't such a stick in the mud!"

I also know that MY middle name comes from my Dad's first name, and my Dad's middle name comes from his Dad's first name. So technically, my son's middle name should be "Timothy", if tradition were followed. I'm a little disappointed that that custom ended, though I am glad my son wasn't stuck with "Timothy" as a middle name.  (Sorry, Mom, my name sucks. :)

So where did my kids' names come from? It would be boring to say that my wife and I simply created lists of names we liked, and picked which ones sounded good together, but sadly, that was pretty much the case. My one counter-example was a complete failure. I owe my job at Intel to a great degree to the man who taught me mask design, Wolf Witt. "Schmidt" being a proper German name, I loved the sound of "Wolfgang Schmidt" and of course having a kid named "Wolf" would be awesome. Unfortunately, my wife vetoed that one almost as it passed my lips. If only she weren't such a stick in the mud!

However, also being a fan of Star Trek, I can at least make some good links to those characters and pretend they were intentional. So these are my fictional reasons my kids are named as they are.

My son, Alex, is named after Alexander Rozhenko, son of Worf:

My son, Jordan, is named after Geordi LaForge, chief engineer of the Enterprise:

My daughter, Kira, is named after Kira Nerys, from Deep Space Nine.  (There is actually some truth to that, though I think I failed to mention this to my wife.)  In addition, my daughter's initials are KES, like Kes from Voyager.

Any idea who YOU were named after?

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