Sunday, June 1, 2014

What's in a Name?

romeo and juliet photo: Romeo and Juliet untitledfaf.jpgThere is a scene in Shakespeare's Romeo and Juliet you may be familiar with (or not) where Juliet speaks to Romeo:

"What's in a name? That which we call a rose
By any other name would smell as sweet.
Romeo and Juliet (II, ii, 1-2)

Names are funny in a not-so-funny way, more in an interesting - like "That's interesting!" - kind-of-way. They are important for identifying (to a certain degree) who we are rather than pointing fingers at each other. And they are important to us in that we feel loved, cared for, and important when we hear our name being called (unless we get in trouble!). ;)

It's funny too that so many of us decide to change our names as we age. In my immediate family, a few of my siblings including myself have shortened our name for various reasons.

Sometimes a change of name may occur as a rite of passage, though not necessarily so, especially in our culture. I would be inclined to say that probably more often than not there are other reasons such as (potential) bullying.

Though that wasn't the case with me, at least with my given name, the reason for changing my name became evident in Grade 9 when it was time to turn over a test page. "Ok, write your name on the top right-hand side and begin the test" the teacher would instruct: E-liz-a-beth Stor-ne-brink I wrote - I wrote the Canadian version with a 'z' rather than an 's' in 'Elisabeth' (my original name) while pronouncing the many syllables in my head. It seemed so long and took forever to write! Ok, I admit I'm being dramatic, though truly I did think that at the time.

Thus, from that point on, I decided to go by my Dutch name or rather, shortened Dutch equivalent of my name, 'Elly'. I preferred that as not only was it shorter (less syllables), but also it was quite unique (at least when I was younger).

It wasn't till years later that I discovered the meaning of my name 'Elly.' It supposedly means "truth and light." That really resonated for me, especially since my spiritual awakening, and I loved it more so than 'Elisabeth' (my original name with the 's' denoting Dutch heritage though it's also German in origin). However, when I discovered it meant "oath of God" (or as I thought I read years ago, "oath to God", I was not sure I liked it. What oath?! To be continued ...

Do you like your given name? Do you know it's meaning? Have you changed it and why? Does your new name suit you or serve you better? If so, how?

(Today's blog post was inspired by a young girl named Ella who shares a similar name to me and whose birthday is today.)

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