Saturday, 5 March 2011

What's in a name?

Somedays I wonder how on Earth I ended up with such a downright naughty dog.

There's no question Bobble is a beautiful, intelligent and fun animal, but most days he could win a red rosette in World's Most Disobedient Dog. He just willfully ignores any command I give him, unless I append the sentence with 'treat, Bob?'. He is then my best friend. Obv.

But then yesterday I was thinking about this doggie dissention and realised that maybe Bob doesn't understand me. I mean, Bob is American and I am English, we speak two different languages. It's obvious there's a cultural barrier between us. 'Lo!' I hear you cry, 'you both speak English, you must be able to communicate?'

Well, you would think so wouldn't you. But, no.

A case in point: my daughter's name, Imogen - pronunciation Im-oh-jin (stress on the Im)

Now, Imogen is a beautiful (in my opinion), old (16th Century) English name, believed to be derived from a Shakespearean play, no less. So, it's been around for a while; dare I say it, longer than the modern America in which I currently reside.

However, whenever I am out and about with said daughter and someone stops to coo over her and they ask me her name, I may as well have said she is the Direct Child of Satan, she has two heads and one eye for the way in which they look at me after I've said 'Imogen'.

Most people are polite enough to lie and say what a pretty, but unusual name she has and then quickly scuttle off to mull over what a stupid name that baby has. But some people don't have the capacity for tact and will just stare at me and ask 'is that a family name?' which I have learnt is code for saying 'ah, so, you had no choice but to give your child such an ugly, old-fashioned moniker'.

Sometimes, if I can't be bothered, I just say her name is Emma; everyone is happy then; the stranger isn't flummoxed, I don't have to explain 'its English, it's just don't GET it!!' and Imogen is young enough not to understand that her name is not actually Emma.

Maybe I am being unfair, after all, I reside in their country, why should they be aware of an English name and why should they have to be able to understand my accent.

But no, what really gets my goat is the sheer number of ridiculous, made-up names people here give their children. Two names I heard last night from a teacher friend were of twin girls named Frangelica and Frangenica. I mean, COME ON!!!!!!!!! And people don't get Imogen?

I can sense I am spiralling into a rant here, which I didn't intend, so I will stop before I alienate my fellow countrymen and am deported for crimes against baby names.


In other news, my very clever and talented father has had a letter printed in the Financial Times today as the LEAD LETTER! This is a huge achievement.

It's all about Wikileaks and Julian Assange, topics which I am not really up to speed with, as I spend so much time fretting over my daughter's name. I can't do it all, you know!

Anyway, you should all read the letter and marvel in it's cleverness:

Have a great weekend folks!

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