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How our name may effect who we are
Posted: 05 October 2007 02:36 PM   [ Ignore ]
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This is not the first time this thought crossed my mind, but I just thought about it again and found it worth a post. We all know that names are simply titles placed upon substance. Now, we often consider that “who I am” is not determined by ones name, but rather the name is placed upon who I am. However, after some short brainstorming I concluded that our name may very well in fact have some influence on who we are.

We are named at birth, before birth, or shortly after our birth, and usually hold that name for the rest of our lives. We hear the sound that our name makes everytime someone calls upon us. How we react to the sound of our name is obviously different then how we would react to any other name. Had we of been named differently, would we react differently to the sounds of that name? I think so. I think this may effect us as we grow and develop as well, having some effect in that the name conditions us in a way that only that name could.

What are your thoughts?

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Posted: 05 October 2007 02:56 PM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 1 ]
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morgantj - 05 October 2007 02:36 PM

Had we of been named differently, would we react differently to the sounds of that name?

I am not sure. I speak three languages: Spanish, Czech and English (or at least I am trying). The name George is very different in every one of these languages. Jorge in Spanish and Jiri in Czech. I don’t think I react differently when somebody calls me either George, Jorge or Jiri.

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Posted: 05 October 2007 03:24 PM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 2 ]
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Most of that factor is do to the names relationship within the society.  Naming your kid Latiqua, Jesus or Dipshit could have a significant effect on who they become in a western culture.  Bill Cosby has made some jokes about black people and how they name their children.  He says they are doming their kids to never having a good job, because their resumes never pass the first line of inspection.  Any analysis on the impact of syllable combinations would be diluted by the more significant societal factors.  You will have to elaborate more on what you meant by you question.  I do know that a dog will respond to its name sooner, in training, if it is short and starts with a consonant.

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Posted: 05 October 2007 03:44 PM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 3 ]
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I remember reading in Freakonomics that a father named his sons Loser and Winner. Guess which one “made it.” Loser. He pursued a successful career as a detective (I think). He went by the name Lou.

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Posted: 05 October 2007 04:22 PM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 4 ]
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George - 05 October 2007 03:44 PM

I remember reading in Freakonomics that a father named his sons Loser and Winner. Guess which one “made it.” Loser. He pursued a successful career as a detective (I think). He went by the name Lou.

Exactly, with the name “Loser”, he’s defintely going to feel he has something to prove, “I’m not a loser” therefore puts more effort into everything.

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Posted: 05 October 2007 06:47 PM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 5 ]
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Words have both a dictionary and an emotional meaning.  A semantics book I read many, many years ago, “Language In Thought and Action,” by S. I. Hayakawa delved into the various facets of word power and meaning.  I recall one exercise: the conjugation of irregular verbs.  Two examples: I am husky; you are plump; he is a fat slob.  I am firm; you are stubborn; he is pig-headed. 

There are fashions in names.  A hundred years ago, a girl could be called Bertha but a girl named that now would have a miserable school existence.  And there was a jerk who worked for a company I had to deal with.  His name was Richard Long.  One can’t help but wonder if those parents thought about his nickname and how it would work with his surname, especially when that’s listed first. 

Of course, the combination of letters has no intrinsic meaning; how one’s group responds to the name is what determines how the person feels about it and gradually how s/he feels about him/herself.

Occam

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Posted: 05 October 2007 08:58 PM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 6 ]
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There is new book out by Steven Pinker called The Stuff of Thought: Language as a Window into Human Nature, which I believe might be somehow related to this topic. Has anybody here read it? Do you recommend it?

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Posted: 05 October 2007 08:59 PM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 7 ]
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George - 05 October 2007 08:58 PM

There is new book out by Steven Pinker called The Stuff of Thought: Language as a Window into Human Nature, which I believe might be somehow related to this topic. Has anybody here read it? Do you recommend it?

It’s on my list ... indeed, should be interesting. My concern is that it may end up being something of a summary of his prior work.

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Posted: 05 October 2007 09:05 PM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 8 ]
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I was given a family name which is as old as the hills and I really hate it.  If I could afford to change it I would change it to Mriana, which is unique and I have no heard of another Mriana esp when I’m in the room.  It seems at least one other female has my name when in any given public place.  It’s like saying, “Hey girl!”  rolleyes

What’s worse is, I gave my younger son another family name and when I went to visit my older son in the hospital with my younger son in tow, I felt like I sounded like a loon!  I swear, it’s just a family name, but the combination of my name and my younger son’s, with no other name in between, makes us sound like loons!  I joke and say I sort of change “history”...  LOL  I have not ran into anyone who has taken offense to my joke yet.

I still don’t like my given name though, even though it was my grandmother’s name, an ancestor before her parents and so on and so on.  It’s a name that skips a generation, but it’s still all over the place.  My younger son’s name was my great grandfather’s and it to skips around in the family tree.  His name is also common and it seems, no matter what the reason we don’t like our own name, we somehow end up doing the same thing to our own children unintentionally.

However, I do think the name you are given also affects how people respond to you as well as one’s personality- albeit minor.  I’m not saying beliefs, I’m talking personality and other’s response to it.  Yet the name does is not the sum total of one’s personality, it only contributes somewhat to it.  Not sure how, but I do think it has a minor affect on one’s personality.

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Posted: 05 October 2007 09:19 PM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 9 ]
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In some states one can change his/her name one time just by a declaration that doesn’t cost much if anything.  I believe it only costs if you want to change it a second time (like going back to the original).  You may want to check that where you live, Mriana.  I’m not sure but you might even be able to get the information and requirements from the Internet.

Occam

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Posted: 05 October 2007 09:20 PM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 10 ]
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In this state, only a woman can change it for free when she is married or divorced, but only the last name and in a case of divorce, it has to be a previous last name.  First names cost money to change.  rolleyes

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Mriana
“Sometimes in order to see the light, you have to risk the dark.” ~ Iris Hineman (Lois Smith) The Minority Report

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Posted: 06 October 2007 12:05 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 11 ]
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I’ve had several names.  Named at birth, named by three marriages, named by a shaman, named in a wiccan group, named by the Holy Spirit after coming to Christ.  I’ve also been named by quick judgments of others with titles that are less than flattering.  And I’ve the name I’ve adopted for use on the internet.  Plus the name of my art business.  I agree, names are powerful, and they do affect our living.  They reflect certain values on us, I suppose. 

Currently I’m undergoing another name change of a legal matter, making it all the more influencial on my life.

Researching the a names we are given, or take on, and the etymology of those names/words, and any information from their cultural origin can only help in understanding the identity others might place on us through the name.

My previous last name was “Weil”, and while I had come to know it for many long years to be pronounced “Wheel”, the traditional pronunciation of it and understanding of it was “Vile”.  How nice to have that be a part of my past. 

The name I am returning to, my birth name has a significant identity that goes with it, and I find myself encouraged in it.

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Posted: 06 October 2007 01:17 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 12 ]
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Your German name could have been worse.  I knew a first generation German-American woman whose maiden name was Gross.

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“Sometimes in order to see the light, you have to risk the dark.” ~ Iris Hineman (Lois Smith) The Minority Report

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Posted: 08 October 2007 10:38 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 13 ]
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Or “Fuchs”!  wink

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Posted: 08 October 2007 11:14 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 14 ]
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Mriana - 06 October 2007 01:17 AM

Your German name could have been worse.  I knew a first generation German-American woman whose maiden name was Gross.

Gross was the maiden name of my babies mama…

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Posted: 08 October 2007 11:54 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 15 ]
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I think names can have cultural resonances, and we do have to deal with these, positive or negative. But I doubt they have any great significance in identity. I’ve known several people who’ve changed names they didn’t like (about 10 years ago it cost $50 in So. Carolina, Mriana grin ), but I haven’t seen them change in any obvious way.

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