The thought occurred to me today that names are interesting concepts! The dictionary says that a name means “a word or a combination of words by which a person, place or thing, a body or class, or any object of thought is designated, called or known”. Pretty straightforward then I hear you say. I therefore ask myself, up to what point are we free to change our names as we see fit?
When women get married in Britain, traditionally they would change their maiden name. This of course can make life hell on facebook when searching for an old school friend never mind the paperwork involved! In Spain the woman keeps her maiden name and any offspring take on both parents’ surnames, male first followed by female, but mother’s surname is forever lost in any future offspring.
Modern day seekers of truth and spiritual happiness have been known to change their birth names with something wonderfully Indian and I always wonder why people get rid of their given names to do so. My own name – Glynis German – bewildered me growing up. Why were no new cousins named after me whilst my sisters’ names were used easily in new borns. I took this to mean that my name wasn’t the most attractive option for cute girl babies and resented all the pretty names used in my family.
It was hard enough in the English language for people to get my name right and I have been called many names in my 51 earth years. Gladys was the norm, another ugly name I felt. Gwyneth was preferred later in life as that was made popular by a gorgeous actress! Whiskey, Phyllis, Grimace even! The worst was Clitoris, embarrassing really especially as the one calling me that asked her 3yr old son to say goodbye to me! In Spain it got no better – Ines, Ingrid even Kleenex which caused great roars of laughter when I produced such an item mistaking someone actually asking me for one!
It wasn’t until a couple of years ago that I appreciated that my parents’ choice of name for me was perfect. It is original and no-one ever gets it right first time so I always have an ice-breaker when I meet new people. Plus it has not been repeated on facebook so I am easy for people to find! German, my surname, is also very special. My illegitimate paternal grandfather picked it out of the air going back a century ago – who knows why. I prefer to believe that his reasons for doing so were in its possible meanings of brotherhood. Germà in Catalan means brother and German as a first name means brotherly. Perhaps his disappointment as not being acknowledged by his birth parents paved the way for him to be a socialist brother to so many. All in all I am blessed with a truly special name.
We are free to change our names – there is no law stopping us only paperwork enabling us to do so. I love my name. My late father named me after a great actress – Glynis Johns, talented and sexy who is a wise and wonderful woman still going strong at over 80yrs. There are two clubs on facebook for women named Glynis – they are closed groups only sorry! We were 313 at last count and hail from all over the world with Afro Americans, hispanics, northern Europeans, Asians and beyond, all sharing this great name with most of us named after Ms Johns !
So, would you change your name that your parents loved up for you? Not me, I am GG, Glynny, Sista Gee – call me what you want but preferably with love!