01 August 2016

What's in a name?

William Shakespeare put a famous question upon the lips of Juliet: "What's in a name" (Romeo and Juliet, Act. II, Scene II, line 47). The importance of names these days receives little attention and prompts preciously little thought, which is why - apparently - naming children after Pokemon characters has become something of a trend:
BabyCenter reports names like Roselia, Eevee, and Onxy are on the rise for girls. For boys, the name of eager Pokemon trainer Ash is rising in popularity, along with Ivy and Shay [more].
I've enjoyed playing Pokemon Go because it is something like a treasure hunt, a way to make going for a daily walk a bit more intriguing and enjoyable. Still, were I married, I would not consider naming my child after a Pokemon character, nor would I consider naming my child after a character in the Lord of the Rings. Like all fads, it will fade and the child will be left with an odd name and lifetime or either having to explain it or feign ignorance.

The ancients and the medievals understood that names have meanings and can even play a role in a person's life, which is why they would sometimes wait a few weeks before naming a child; they wanted to see something of the child's personality before assigning a name to him or her. Have you ever met someone named Jim and thought to yourself, "He doesn't look like a Jim"?

There was once a time that we named our children after the saints, after the men and women who lived lives of proven holiness. We wanted the particular saint who shared a name with our child to watch over him or her and to lead the child in the ways of holiness. We wanted the child to look to the saint and to imitate the saint's life and grow to become like the saint.

I hope we return to this practice one day soon.

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