A name, a name, my novel for a name


What’s in a name?  A rose by any other name would smell as sweet.  Or something like that, perhaps I should have listened more intently in my English class to what Shakespeare had to say… Either way, perhaps a rose would smell as sweet, but what about a Reebok, a Dyson or a Cushelle?  My friend is a speech therapist and, I kid you not, she has encountered all of these names in the last year!  Can it be long before someone looks around at the products in their house and has a similar brainwave – “I know, babe, let’s call the baby Smart Price”?!

Maybe I’m boring, my children have got traditional names and I only reached the ‘A’s before naming my daughter.  Or perhaps I’m just lazy, as two of the lead characters in my novel started off with ‘A’ names and maybe I should just learn to carry on searching.  It was only after some spot on advice from Julie, that I thought to re-name one of them – the characters, not my children!  It felt odd though, to change Abigail to Isabelle, as in my head the name was so much a part of her character.

As a teacher it was a dilemma I went through when pregnant.  I’d find a name I loved, or fall in love with one, and then I’d start teaching a new class and come across a teenage Nathan or Ella, who drove me to distraction, and fall out of love with the name forever.  Naming my characters has similar connotations, so perhaps it’s time to get that baby book out again and keep reading, right on through to the Zs.

Surnames are a whole different dilemma and I’ll leave you with this.  My friend, Alison, went for a job interview and was thrilled when she got home, to be told by her teenage son that the company she’d applied for a position with wanted to give her a job and that she needed to ring them back if she wanted it.

Who do I need to speak to?’ asked Alison.

What?’  Grunted number one son.

The name of the person who called?’

Oh, yeah, right, it was a Mr Moron.’

So Alison phones the company and asks for Mr Moron.  Insisting, when she’s told that no-one of that name works there, that he definitely called to offer her a job and giving details of her name and the position she was interviewed for.  Eventually, she’s put through to the HR department and after a bit more wrangling and debate, one of the HR officers comes on the line.

I think you must mean Mr PrattHe’s on his lunch at the moment, but I’ll tell him you called.’

By then, Alison already had the phone half way back on the cradle, deciding that she didn’t really want the job anyway… Or her number one son.

So, what’s in a name? Sometimes a lot more than you think!

Have a great week

Jo x


5 thoughts on “A name, a name, my novel for a name

  1. Now I’m working in a secondary school, I’m finding there are so many names I haven’t a clue where to start on. Then I get it wrong and the whole class (except of course the poor child whose name it is) fall about laughing and they all try to tell me at once how to say it properly and I still don’t know!

    I find it quite disconcerting when reading a good book and there’s a name I can’t pronounce. It’s almost like a trip in my mind when I read the name each time. I really struggled with Hermione until it reached international reknown thanks to JK Rowling.

    Of course you have to be even more careful when you put a first name with a surname and make sure the initials don’t make a strange word. My mum used to know someone called Peter Nutt and (although this may be urban legend) when I worked for the Police I was told there was someone in the area who kept being arrested for giving the name Donald Duck when asked by a Police Officer – it’s an offence to give a false name to a Police Officer – but that was his real name!!

    When I was pregnant with my first daughter Kira, (who knew there were so many spellings of her name?!) I read an article which talked about strange names given to children. One poor boy had been named Vulcan – one thing to name your kid after a character from Star Trek (guilty as charged) – but after a species???

    The same article mentioned that in France you can be charged if you call your child something which will cause them to be bullied later in life. I wonder if that is still true?


    • Hi Liz

      Thanks for being the first to post a comment on our new blog. I agree with you about the difficulty of pronouncing names and I also had my version of Hermione, when it was the name of one of the characters in a Jilly Cooper novel and I pronounced it something like Hermy-own-ee. I obviously didn’t have a posh enough upbringing to get it right! I would love to meet P.Nutt and I do feel sorry for Vulcan, but if you check this link out there are even worse names that registrars have refused:


      Pity the child nearly called Lucifer, or Mafia No Fear, but absolute worse of all has to be… Anal! Is there a surname that could go well with?!

      Thanks again for posting.

      Jo x

  2. Aw, Liz, bless you for supporting us! Loved your comments; the made me giggle as did Jo’s reply.

    It’s funny how much names have changed over the years. I don’t think there was anyone with what I would call an “unusual” name in my classes either at primary or secondary school yet Ashleigh’s class is full of names that are a little different.

    My mum and dad used to have a post office and they had a customer called Terri Towel which amused me. There were a few others but I can’t remember them all now. What’s also funny is people who have names that are quite normal but somebody famous shares that name e.g. I knew a Roger Moore and a Michael Jackson, both of whom would have been named before those individuals became quite so famous. As you know, I run a Brownie Pack and the Guide Leader at our place is called Katie Price. I bet all 3 of these get the same comments every single time they meet someone new, poor things.

  3. One of my favourite books as a teenager (yes I can just about remember!) was ‘What Katie Did’ by Susan Coolidge. It had a character called Imogen, a name I’d never heard of, and in my head she was Im – o – gen with the emphasis on the ‘o’ a hard g. It was years before I discovered my mistake, by which time I preferred my version anyway!

    Much later, discovering Maeve Binchy added a whole new dimension to the name thing. Who knew that Aisling in ‘Light a Penny Candle’ was actually Ashling? Well, most people probably did. I didn’t. Neither did the mum at the sandpit who kept yelling out her daughter’s name, clearly to show off to the rest of us mums, and pronouncing Aisling just as it’s spelt. ‘It’s Ashling, you stupid woman!’ I wanted to yell. Just as well I didn’t. The spade she was hurling the sand about with looked awfully sharp. But perhaps there’s a choice in the Irish name thing and she actually knew better than I did anyway!

    The cross-cultural aspect of name-choosing can throw up all kinds of weird and wonderfulness. At the university where I worked, one of our mature students, very popular guy, came to the office to tell us his wife had just given birth to a baby boy. The couple came from somewhere in the middle east, I can’t remember exactly where, but as the babe would be British they’d decided on a British name. So we asked him what it was, whereupon said student stood in the middle of the office and proudly announced ‘John Thomas’. No-one had the heart, nor the nerve, to tell him!

    Deirdre x

    • Hi Deirdre

      You made me laugh to brighten up this grey morning! Poor John Thomas, perhaps he’s now JT? I am so with you on the Maeve Binchy writing. I loved her books growing up and the name Niamh was a particular challenge for me… One of my close friends daughter’s now has that name and I think it’s really pretty, but seeing her primary classmates attempt to spell it throws up all sorts of interesting alternatives.

      My mum wanted to call my brother Luke, but with a surname of Walter, she was worried that he might end up being given the middle moniker of ‘warm’and she’s P.Walter herself, which is bad enough! Thanks for posting a comment and hope you can join us as a blogger on the forum soon.

      Jo x

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