What is in a name?

Adolf is aloof, boring and probably has a hidden agenda. Geraldine is a nobody.  Troy is pretentious. Tony is a thug. Donald is a puppet who thinks he is funny.  Vicky is  fun, excitable and good company. Bertha is a fat and uninteresting old-timer likely to make a good nanny. Katie is cute. Jamie is a sweetheart. Alfred has no personality. Dan is not to be trusted. Peter is trustworthy.  Esther is old fashioned and bound to preach on propriety. Holly is a goody two shoes most likely to be teacher’s pet or a snitch.

The funny thing about names is that they may very well determine character. No, I am not crazy, just a realistic generalising observer.  We all (if not most of us) made assumptions about certain people based on their names without ever having met them. Let me put this into perspective; imagine you are a man who is being set up for a blind date. You have got to pick one woman from a choice of two names. One woman is called Olga and the other Michelle. Bear in mind you have never met these women nor do you know anything about them other than their gender. Who do you pick? Michelle, right? If not, then I have just put you in a category of people whose character I may discuss at a future date. Ladies, imagine yourself in the same situation and you have to pick between Barry and Adolf.  And the big winner is …Barry, right?

It is a psychological mind game in some way. An unconscious game of which you are not fully aware of. Of course, my opinions may vary from yours in some of my examples. I base this piece more on my own observation and a few people I have engaged with on this topic. I am not out to bash anyone nor will I sink so low as to declare an enemy’s name ugly. I am past puberty.

My own name

Let me talk about my own name before I proceed to make certain people whose names I will discuss feel offended and get a knee-jerk reaction to attack me.  Edna, in my opinion, is not glamorous nor is it a pretty name. I have always thought of it as an old-fashioned, somewhat bordering on ugly old lady’s name.  Dame Edna comes to mind.

I was named after my beautiful maternal Grandmother. I love her and I like that I was named after this phenomenal woman but I believe it is not the best name. If you look at Hollywood movies and television shows, you may notice that people named Edna are usually depicted as unattractive,  old batty ladies, old-fashioned, socially ill-equipped busybodies, passive(or active) aggressive and sticklers for rules and propriety. In other words boring and uninteresting or interesting in a peculiar way.  Consider Edna in the Simpsons. There was also an Edna who played a short role in Desperate Housewives. She was basically an unattractive tyrant who was a stickler for rules and regulations. And of course, I repeat, Dame Edna Everage, known for her outlandish dress, self-righteousness and no-nonsense prudish and snobbish manner. She is quite charming though, I will give her that.

One thing I will say about my Grandmother is she does not really fit into this Edna picture I have created. She is an attractive and ambitious rule breaker who goes beyond that which is expected in her society.  She pushes the envelope( in a dainty way) and nearly always win. For example, my Grandmother was the only woman in her time in the 1950’s in a small town in Tanzania who put on makeup (after marriage) and drank beer. She was the only woman who did not fully believe in the bride price and this is unheard of even today in most African quarters. She encouraged her daughters to get an education before marriage which was unique at the time because a woman’s worth was measured on her being married and not an education. Educated women were considered to be quarrelsome. She is more modern and futuristic than all of her children. She is a fashionista and has an eye for modern trends. In her eighties, she is still as charming, girly, attractive and a bundle of joy that the whole town loves.

Your Name

Now let us look at other names.  What of Ethel and Abraham? First thought would make them staunch Christians. Nice people but not willing to compromise on many things. Same with Magdalene and Godfrey. Mustafa is not to be trusted. Gwendoline is adorable but boring. She is the kind of girl you will want to tag along with if you want to magnify your wit and charm in the company of others. Christina likes to have fun but has a serious side.

Daisy is a nice girl most likely to be shy. Barthomelow is an English snob. Horatio is an unpleasant upper-class English snob who is probably a descendant of the Patricians or Bourgeoisie. Catherine is the ordinary girl next door type. And so is Mary. Tim is a nice boy next door type. Thomas is ordinary, he blends well in society, follows rules and is likely to be a civil servant. Jessica is shallow and lucky to have made it past High School. Delores ups your curiosity, she is captivating. Stefano can have your legs broken and is not to be trusted. Carlos is dubious. Antonio and Giovanni have perfected the art of charm and flirtation and can charm your pants off. They make good gigolos.

Then you’ve got Bradley, Tracy, Michelle, Stefanie, Ashley, Lisa, Rianna, Maria, Malaika, Jennifer, Kim, Celine, Michael, Jason and Patrick; these are beautiful people. The cool people are Bo, Dex,  Jeff, Justin, Ali, Casey, Coco, Rob, Monica, Erica, Asante and Alex.  The brainy ones are Gordon, Stephen, Albert, Margaret, Martha, William, Judith and Hugo.

In conclusion, I would just like to say, don’t judge a book by its cover. People may not be what they appear. Every name is unique and special in its own way. Also, please don’t unashamedly and maliciously bash me for my opinion. I suspect you are an adult. Do not take this at face value, I will respect your opinion without necessarily agreeing with it but I will not take it personally and develop a vendetta against you.

So, what does your name say about you?

First published on Foreign Pointers.


Edna Kuipers