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The Art Of Choosing A Name

The Art Of Choosing A Name

March 16, 2012

One of life’s biggest dilemmas – ‘choosing a name’ – and how often we go wrong.

One of the biggest decisions of my life was when I had to choose a name for my new-born. I cannot tell you the number of weeks we spent googling names and drawing up Venn diagrams to shortlist ones that were acceptable to the whole family. And yet, I still panicked the night before the naming ceremony, wondering if we had made the right choice or not. Because, when I was at school, there were at least 5 ‘Priya’s in every class. They were typically identified as R.Priya, K.Priya, S.Priya (short), S.Priya (glasses) and M.Priya. And I wasn’t having any of that for my child!!

You know, choosing a name is an art. And when it comes to this art, some of us want to be creative geniuses. Whether we are looking to name a baby, a book or a business venture, we hunt down the most interesting and unique names (or so we think!). In the bargain, some of us end up choosing names that sound like tongue-twisters.

Take a look at the following names I saw on my last trip to India. These were found on sign-boards, in news paper ads, just about everywhere actually. I am sure the people behind these names worked really hard to come up with these.

* ‘V-Solve’ (consultancy) - Wow! A consultancy that actually solves problems!

* ‘Sibling Revelry’ (crèche) - Interesting name, but how did they assume that the common man uses the word ‘revelry’?

* ‘Brainobrain’ (kids academy) – I liked this one. One look at this name and you KNOW for a fact that your child is likely to become the next Einstein, or at least a home-grown IIT->IIM->Chetan Bhagat. As a parent, I would definitely fall for this kind of name, assuming they meant BrainObrain and not BraiNObrain ;-)

* Interestingly, most boutiques have pretty one-word-names. Anokhi, Ananya, Shilpi, Vastra (duh!), Lasya, Varsiddhi….you get the drift. They all seem to want to lean on heritage of some kind. Well, I’m not cribbing...just commenting!

* The most creative names of course, are those on the lines of ‘Simla Snacks’ (Amazing - Snacks from Shimla?), ‘Babu Tea Stall’ (Actually, congrats to Mr.Babu for being an entrepreneur), ‘Five Star department store’ (Really? Its more often than not, just a dingy little shop where underpaid shop-girls hover around you, lest you decide to nick anything valuable), ‘Classic tea shop’.. and so on.

Well, the point is, choosing a name is important. It all boils down to your USP. You want to choose a name that puts forward – clearly – what your venture is all about – and what you have to offer.

So these are the pointers that you are normally guided by – a name that sounds pleasant (Ram and not Ravan), meaningful (Bunty is a really cute name, but your child will look for a chance to get even with you, I promise!), unique (Mrignayanee is beautiful and unique, but again, your daughter will hunt you down!), is short and sweet (just as long as they are not ‘Priya’, ‘Raj’ or ‘Simran’).

In India, of course, choosing a name is not just an ‘art’ but also a science, with a host of ‘auspicious’ letters thrown in and ‘inauspicious’ ones shunned. Remember the long-winded K-soaps that had even more long-winded names - Kkahani Ghar Ghar Ki, Kkusum, Kaahin Kissii Roz? These are perfect examples of how we willingly create names that are perhaps unique, but turn out to be equally annoying!

So the next time you are faced with the decision of choosing a name, please, choose well.

And on that note, do watch this funny video I found on the internet. 

20 Comments

  • Writerzblock
    By
    Writerzblock
    19.03.12 11:02 PM
    @ Noel,
    Ha ha :-) Glad you liked the post enough to share your opinion. Have a nice day!
  • Noel
    By
    Noel
    19.03.12 04:35 AM
    @Pallavi
    Thanks! I'm catholic so the 'english' name comes with the package :P

    Most people i knew (before i came to the UK) didn't feel my name was odd (or 'strange' as you put it ;) jk ).

    One of the annoying things about having my name (which is french for christmas) is the fact that people use it as a conversation starter. But what most people don't know is that I've been hearing that same line since I was about 10 lol!!

    PS: really epic post you have here... kudos to you!
  • Pallavi
    By
    Pallavi
    18.03.12 10:00 PM
    Btw the other day I saw a little girl whose name was India!! And a Greek girl called Maya!
  • Pallavi
    By
    Pallavi
    18.03.12 09:59 PM
    Noel,
    That is a really nice name btw. This trend of Indians having English names is certainly picking up. Many of my Indian friends have named their kids that way, and I actually found it strange in the beginning but am getting used to the idea of living in one global village :) Would love to hear some of the names you referred to!
  • Noel
    By
    Noel
    18.03.12 09:18 PM
    Pallavi, you should thank god you werent a malayalee (malayalee christian I should add)... for some odd reason after the 60s or 70s my people went crazy with their male names and gradually their female names (@Tys you may know something about this)!! I dont want to name any names since I have no idea who will be reading this blog...

    I am in a way grateful to my folks that my name was short and easy to say (no offense meant to people with long names)... but I do get a lot of name related puns around christmas time :@ ...

    there is some confusion when people where I live (the UK) get to know me

    'a brown guy with a white name!! WTF!!' or, "mate, is that your real name?!' are the usual reactions I get when meeting many people (who grew up here)... so much for me thinking that all british people were enlightened.. some still live in the middle ages!!

    But on the bright side the confusion on their faces is hilarious to watch ;)
  • Writerzblock
    By
    Writerzblock
    17.03.12 08:24 PM
    LOL!!! 'Savage' would have won hands down!!! Tch.. tch.. vaat-e-pity.
  • tys
    By
    tys
    17.03.12 06:32 PM
    Damn. That must hurt. I feel for you.

    I wanted to name my son Savage or something. A kind of name which in college would have made him raise a statue in my name. But wife vetoed it.

    and his one chance of effortless coolness went south.

    Personally i prefer tys, becoz it rhymes with ice.
  • Writerzblock
    By
    Writerzblock
    17.03.12 02:10 PM
    That's OK Tillu.. I'm called Pallu!!!
  • tys
    By
    tys
    17.03.12 10:52 AM
    thank my lucky stars that i didnt give my name here...u wudnt believe what iam called at home...

    tillu.

    yes. now excuse me while i go and kill myself.
  • Writerzblock
    By
    Writerzblock
    16.03.12 11:40 PM
    @ Rajpriya,

    I did not realise that the names I chose as examples (Priya, because I had lots of 'Priya' friends, Raj and Simran as they are the NRI population's dream names ;-) thanks to Karan Johar) would bear any resemblance to anyone. I had a friend once with the name, 'Rampriya' and we all thought it was such a beautiful name.

    I believe Harry's comment was in entirely good humour :-) and not personal at all.

    I suppose I should have restricted my post to names of business ventures/etc and not personal names. That's a learning experience!

    Happy weekend, all :-)
  • Rajpriya
    By
    Rajpriya
    16.03.12 11:30 PM
    @Harry did I sound upset? I just answered your questions and cleared your doubts. I explained that all parents give a names to their children what they like and not what the rest of the world would like.

    Did my name really stick out like a sore thumb? I am so sorry if it did and please avoid putting it in your mouth to stay healthy.

    Rajpriya
  • HARRY
    By
    HARRY
    16.03.12 11:02 PM
    @ Rajpria

    We are just having a laughing, There is no malice involved, because in Pallavi's article she wrote, that she doesn't like some names, and it happens to be the ones matching yours, and she did not write in spite, but she wrote in good faith ( not thinking of you in particular ).

    I thought I crack a joke with you, thus directing the post at you and as a writer of the article she responded. I take full responsibility for this, we had no intention in upsetting you, your name just stuck out like a sore thumb. sorry.

    I was going to crack another joke but I will not, just incase you get upset.

    HARRY
  • Rajpriya
    By
    Rajpriya
    16.03.12 08:39 PM
    Well! Well! Looks like I am being discussed and as long as I am not referred to as any Tom, Dick and Harry I don’t think it bothers me or worries me. Men who for some reason disliked assassinated Abraham Lincoln, Mahatma Gandhi, Martin Luther King and John F. Kennedy.

    I still have to get face to face with someone who would want to gun me down because he or she hates my name. I am happy that day has not come so far. But I know that in the circles I am known, no one had ay reason to dislike me because of my name.

    Around fifteen years ago an angry auto rickshaw driver confronted me at a junction when driving we both stopped millimeters in front of each other in Sri Lanka. I opened my window and smiled at him. He angrily asked why I was smiling? I said I was thanking god that I did not run into him and if did I would be crying by now and not smiling.

    He smiled back and we went our ways. My parents gave me a name that they liked and it never occurred to me to question if the entire world would like my name. My family and my close friends and business associates all would like the way they do even if had a different name.

    @Harry, my surname is not Simran nor is it Bhagat. So what makes you think I would worry if Pallavi likes my name or not? At least I am glad it makes you happy and have great fun discussing my name.

    @Pallavi. I was not an extraordinary child. But I know I never did things to make my parents dislike me. May be there are things my parents did like me for - my obedience and respect for them if that amounted to being a good son if not great.

    You won’t get into any trouble I assure you on such trivial stuff.
  • Writerzblock
    By
    Writerzblock
    16.03.12 07:39 PM
    @ Harry:

    Grrr... I don't like CB!!!! That was supposed to be a sarcastic reference ;-)

    Nothing wrong with the name 'Priya', but I just had too many of them around when I was growing up :-)

    It will be very interesting to see how many people name their kids 'Aaradhya' now. If you didn't already know, that is Beti B's name.

    And yes, Indian names are indeed meaningful (well, most of them atleast). I'm not complaining about them. My only grudge is the lack of creativity in choosing names, especially for business ventures. The other extreme bothers me too, where (like Jyoti has said above), we choose tongue-twisters in our search for THE most unique name.

    I think it is a very fine balance.

    It becomes more critical when it comes to a professional decision. Like the other day, I came across an email on the lines of INNOVATION123@XYZ.COM. The first thought that struck me was , How 'innovative' can they get with an email ID like that?!!

    I think every name should be chosen with a USP in mind. Even if it does not have a particular meaning (though most Indian names do have a meaning), it should sound like it has a purpose, don't you think?

    Btw, Harry, I have a boy but will prefer to not get into details of his name :-) and he isn't a new arrival.
  • HARRY
    By
    HARRY
    16.03.12 06:46 PM
    Hi Pallavi

    First you have come around liking Chetan Bhagat. That's a start :) Now other thing is what's wrong with name Priya, I think it's good name.

    But my big question is what did you have boy or a girl? And what have you called him or her. Sorry for personal question, If you don't want to answer then you don't have to, and I will understand.

    In our community names have deep and spiritual meanings and if we as a community ( culture ) fail to address this, then we will not be any different to any foreigner who names their children what ever they want, which sometimes don't have any meanings.

    There is more to name then just few letters. I hope you have chosen wisely.

    PS. congratulation on a new arrival

    HARRY
  • Writerzblock
    By
    Writerzblock
    16.03.12 06:02 PM
    *With absolutely NO disrespect to Mr.Rajpriya* Harry, you are getting me into trouble here! ;-)
  • Writerzblock
    By
    Writerzblock
    16.03.12 06:02 PM
    @ Rajpriya:
    Oops...what do I say now...you are probably a very good son!!

    @ Jyoti:
    Totally agree. Poor kids!! No wonder they shorten their beautiful names when they grow older. Like Jaspreet to Jaz.

    @ Harry:
    ROFL!! You cracked me up with that comment!!! Btw, I'm not too fond of the name 'Raj' either!!
  • HARRY
    By
    HARRY
    16.03.12 05:52 PM
    @ Rajpriya

    By chance is your second name Simran? :) Because if it is, then there is no way Pallavi's going to like you at all, but if the answer is no, then at least you got 33% chance being liked. :)
  • Jyoti
    By
    Jyoti
    16.03.12 05:40 PM
    In the quest of keeping a unique name for thier babies, parents these days are using wierd names that seriously sounds like a tongue-twister. The kid is not able to pronounce or write his name correctly before he is some 10 years old. I have no problem with unique names, but it should be something that is pleasent to hear and pronounce
  • Rajpriya
    By
    Rajpriya
    16.03.12 12:50 PM
    @Pallavi,

    Hi, it's me Rajpriya. I was born when my mother was actually wanting (expecting) a baby girl. I said no to sex change so, I ended up with a girls name putting an end to her disappointment.

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