What is in a name?

“What’s in a name? That which we call a rose by any other name would smell as sweet…”    William Shakespeare  Romeo and Juliet

Just what is in a name?

When I started researching my genealogy, I was looking for the father and grandfather of William Switzer, my grandfather. I soon discovered  EVERY William Switzer had a son named William and pretty much every son of every William had a son named William. .  At first I thought ‘how silly- did they not have any creativity in naming their children?’  Later I came to somehow appreciate the fact that eldest son/ daughter named after paternal grandfather/mother, second maternal and so on. It does give a person an idea of a name to look for. Of course, there were exceptions to the rule. ( And some turn out to make sense as one discovers a second wife and her parents.)

In these times, few parents follow a strict naming pattern. And creativity in naming one’s child knows NO bounds. As one of the residents at work commented as she told us the name of her newest great-granddaughter (Manhattan) –  “I don’t know anymore, when hearing about my great-grandchildren, if we are really talking about children, or about cities, states, or vehicles!”

As word meanings and usage change with time,some names that may have been popular a generation or two ago fall into disfavour. Then there are those who carefully choose a name to reflect the character qualities they hope will be reflected in the life of their child; others look for names with profound meaning. Still others will select a name based on what shorter versions of the name might be used.

As to the shorter versions of a name, I find it rather humorous that tonight, of all nights, my oldest daughter, Angela, chose to blog “What’s my name” in which she talks about the varied shorter forms on of her name she encounters. We moved part way through her grade one year of school. After her first day in her new school, her teacher called me in for a chat. Apparently, there was another Angela in the class and the teacher had thought it would save confusion if our Angela, the new one, could be called something other than Angela. And apparently our Angela did not take kindly to the suggestion. “Only my parents sometimes call me Ang,” she told her teacher, “And I only let my grandpa call me Angie. You may call me Angela or you may call me Angela Elizabeth!”


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