Thursday, July 29, 2010

What's in a Name?

Before I went to school, my family called me by my middle name which was J--- , chosen by my Mom. When I entered school, teachers called me by my first name R--- which my Dad had chosen. Therein lies the roots of an identity crisis. I didn't care for either of my names. When I grew up in the South, it was common to give children two names and call them by both, so my aunt I.B. and uncle P.J. (Initials were their given names and had no further words that the initials replaced) always called me by both of my names. My students liked to call me Miz A and that was fine with me.

I have chosen to use my initials R.J. which I prefer above the names they replace. Some people dislike their given names so much they legally change them. Who wants to be called Merry Christmas? She attended my college. I don't hate my name quite that much--I just don't care to use my given names. I choose to use initials instead and I really like the letter R., but the connotations that I, and especially others, connect to the name it represents are not part of my self image. By the way, reetjann is not my real name--just another creation.

"What's in a name? That which we call a rose by any other name would smell as sweet." 

 --William Shakespeare

Assuming that Shakespeare meant that a rose would still be a beautiful, fragrant flower regardless of the name, I think if we called it a  "stinkweed", we wouldn't pay $100 a dozen for them and use them in the language of love.


People make judgments of others based on names, and physical appearance, before looking at their deeds. I like to be known by the content of my character, how I treat others, my opinions, my values, the books I read, the people I see, the places I go, not my name, or how I look.  

"Words can evoke human reaction, or emotions, referred to as connotations, as well as literal definitions, which are the meanings of the words, also called denotations."


  1. Excellent post and I completely agree about your take on Shakespeares quote. I have ALWAYS disagreed with his hypothesis! (Great minds like ours, and all that. lol)

    My foster father, when I was a baby, was named R.Q. He was born in Texas and they just ran out of ideas after all the babies and told his sister to name him. They lived on the Royal Queen highway which was called the R.Q., and there ya go.

  2. To us Brits - Americans always had such imaginative names; ours are all very staid and proper and yours aren't... I always thought my parents were possessed with a singular lack of imagination when naming myself and my siblings - my name simply being Jane.
    My childrens father was Irish so they both have gaelic names - which they are both perfectly happy with. My daughter less so since she moved to Dublin, where it seems her once unusual name is as common as Jane.

  3. I like the name "Jan" which is what I was called growing up, but it's a little boring, and it's my middle name, which is why I simply added the initial "D" of my first name to it. I took the period out once I got past menopause, no longer needing it. :-)

  4. That's so funny DJan. I like the way you explain your name on your site.

  5. Your last paragraph says so much about you, tells who you are and what you believe in. You are a wonderful person.

  6. I do agree that people often draw conclusions about a name before meeting the person. Dumb, really. I agree with Shakespeare.

  7. I wish some parents would think properly before naming their children - I think they forget that the child has to live with the name. ;)

  8. great thoughts... i agree! our actions speak louder than our names, eh?

    the sound /r/ has a beautiful vibration... it flows... like river... like rain...

    in persina too these words contain /r/ sound:

    rain: /baaraan/
    river: /rood/