Friday, May 2, 2008

What's in a Name?

Sometimes I'm wont to think about random things that really don't apply to my life right now. For example, the names I'd give my kids if/when I have kids. Now, this is actually something I've thought about in some detail. I have 3 "rules" when it eventually comes to naming my kids:

1. The name can't be in the top 10 most popular/common names.

2. The name can't be the name of someone I personally know fairly well.

3. The name can't be too obscure/weird.

The purpose of Rule #1 is to avoid the most common names. For me, there isn't anything particularly fun/exciting about a name that millions of other kids are named as well. The purpose of Rule #2 is to avoid naming kids after people I know; I don't want whenever I call my kids' names to think of my friends by those names too. The point of Rule #3 is to prevent me from getting carried away in the opposite extreme.

Some male names I'm partial to: Spencer, Tyler, Vincent, Jason, Philip, Marcus/Mark, Everett, Douglas, Nicholas, Austin, Brent, Hugh, Travis, and Keith.

Some female names I'm partial to: Chloe, Evelyn, Hailey, Marissa, Vanessa, and Amelia.

Now, I've also given some thought to Chinese names as well. I feel that Chinese names are constructed with a lot more meaning in them than English names might. For example - and I'm about to give away some very personal and incriminating info here - my Chinese name is 周启邦 (pronounced: zhou1 qi3 bang1 - the numbers correspond to the tones of each character). "周" is simply my surname. "启" means "to open, to start." And "邦" means "country, state, or nation." So my name means something along the lines of "a beginning in a new country." Rather apt, as I'm the first person in my family to be born in the US. The second character "启" can also be used as a generational indicator, so both my younger brothers and I share that character.

So after thinking about this for some time, if I had a son, I'd name him 周俐杰 (zhou1 li4 jie2). "俐" means "clever or sharp." And "杰" means "hero or heroic." The meaning of the name at this level is a bit Odysseus-like, haha. But there's more to this name than just the raw meanings of the characters. "俐" sounds like "力" which means "power or strength," thus punning on that a bit. And "杰" is part of JW-M's Chinese name (吴杰 - wu2 jie2) given to him in his first Chinese class. That character, in part, honors my friendship with him. Also, the pronunciation of "俐杰" sounds a little like "理解" (li3 jie3) which means "to comprehend or understand," thus kind of punning on it as well.

Now if I had a daughter, the naming gets a little harder for me. I want the second character to sound the same as if I had a son (a bending in the generational character "rule"). So I came up of the name 周丽清 (zhou1 li4 qing1). "丽" means "beautiful." And "清" means "clear, pure, or peaceful." The character "清" sounds like the characters "青" or "轻" meaning "green, or youthful" and "light, gentle, or soft" respectively.

So yeah, that's that. I've given way too much thought to this, again as I'm wont to do from time to time.

Today I met JW-M's grandmother. She was so so sweet, as most grandmothers tend to be. Apparently she's heard a lot about me and was excited to finally meet me. I guess JW-M's spoken highly of me (or something . . .), for the most part. That makes me feel good inside.

And she's turning 90 soon. She looks amazing for her age! If you met her, you'd think she's in her late 70s or early 80s. She's got some good genes. Some people are so blessed. Can you believe she's also self-sufficient, living in a house all by herself?! She was about to weed dandelions when we left. "Wow" is all I have to say. What an epic woman.

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