Thursday, May 31, 2012

What's In A Name?

Does your name have a meaning (imi)?
What does your name mean?

My name "Sonny" is actually a nickname (adana). Many people use their nicknames in daily life and keep their given names for official business and paperwork.

How did I get my nickname? Well, from my father.
My father's name was Heyward Bruce Gardner. When I was born my parents "named me after" my father;
so, I became Heyward Bruce Gardner Jr. (junior).
As I am the "son" of my father (father & son), and we share the same name, my father automatically became  H.B.G. Senior while I became H.B.G. Junior; or nicknamed "Sonny", from "son" (of the father with the same name).
My name does not mean "sunny" like a "sunny day" or, "sunny weather".
My family also could have nicknamed me "Junior".
They could have also named me H.B.G. II, or, Heyward Bruce Gardner "the Second" (II = the Second).

This way of naming a son with the father's name is an old formal custom. Some people continue this tradition for generations (sedai). For example: King Henry VIII (the Eighth).

Most names carry some kind of meaning in themselves. Usually you can learn the meaning by checking the root word or words used from the culture the name comes from. In Japan the meaning of a name depends on the meaning of the kanji characters used to write the name. I enjoy asking my Japanese students what their names mean. It is fascinating to study the meaning of the kanji characters that form a person's name in Japan.

In the West, most names originate from old European languages. A family name can often give you a hint as to what your ancestor's main occupation (job) was or where they lived. For example, if your last name is 'Smith' then your ancestors were probably smiths, (black)smiths or metal workers of some kind. If your last name is 'Baker' then your ancestors were probably busy baking bread. Same goes for names like 'Fisher', 'Farmer', 'Taylor' (tailor), etc...

Names like Anderson = Son of Anders, Jefferson = Son of Jeffers, Michaelson = Son of Michael etc..

Take my first name for example: Heyward....
Is a German name that means "The Brave One, or the Chief Guardian".
Hey = Hay = hoshikusa, the grass horses eat; OR, Harvest = shukaku.
Ward = hogosha = Guardian.
So.... "Heyward" = "Guardian or Keeper of the Harvest".

And my middle name.... Bruce = Woods = mori, or forest. A popular boy's name with French origins but made popular in Scotland in the 14th century (1300's). My father's family is Celtic; mainly Scottish, Irish and British. My mother's is Scandanavian; mainly Norwegian and Laplander mixed with some German.

The family name Gardner is obviously a gardener = "Keeper of the Garden".
This indicates that, very long ago, my father's family's main occupation was gardening.

So my name is very organic, possibly even pagan.

I nicknamed my wife "Mia" when we lived in the USA because Mizuho Otahara is hard for Americans to remember and pronounce correctly. Her name is, like my own, also very organic.

Mizuho = Is a classic name for Japan. I mean the whole country of Japan used to be called 'Mizuho' by it's native population. It means "Fresh Rice" and conjures images of abundant, green rice paddies.
Her family name, Otahara = A very big field, or rice paddy.

Together we represent a perfect balance of the abundance of Nature and the nurturing and care and protection of it.

Please refrain from any "oyyaji gyagu" (= old man < bad > joke) comments about "the gardener plowing the field". Speaking of which....

We are now 21 weeks pregnant so we are talking about baby names.
Next week we should discover our baby's gender or sex (sei). That should help us narrow down our choices. Naming a person is a very big responsibility. Adam had the responsibility to name every animal in the Garden of Eden in Christian mythology.

We love the Gaelic (old Irish) name Aidan or Aiden for a boy. It means "Fiery"; "of Fire".
It also bears resemblance to Eden, The Primeval Garden, 'Eiden no sono',  = The Garden of Eden. Also, an angel with a fiery sword was stationed at the entrance to the Garden of Eden as a Guardian (= Heyward).

This name Aidan can also be for a girl; but, I think the spelling could be feminized a bit.
My favorite poet, Edgar Allen Poe, wrote in his famous poem 'The Raven' :

"Tell this soul with sorrow laden if, within the distant Aidenn,
It shall clasp a sainted maiden whom the angels name Lenore -"

Aidenn is a lovely form of Aiden or Eden and is a more feminine spelling with the double "n".
Lenore is a nice name too, but we want to avoid any name with  "L" and "R" because it will be horribly mispronounced in Japan, i.e. "Renor" instead of Lenore, "Riri" instead of Lily etc...

As for middle names we like Wolf for a boy and Deanna or Dianna for a girl.
Aidan / Aiden Wolf for a boy, and Aidenn Dianna / Deanna for a girl.
What do you think?

Deanna or Dianna's "Di" / "De" pronounced to rhyme with "sea".
Not "Die"-anna, like Princess Diana. I don't think "die" sounds as sweet (die = shinu).
Also, I have a sister named Deann, but we call her "DeeDee".
Wolf is a powerful name and not an uncommon name in Northern Europe where my ancestors are from.
Dianna or Deanna is of course Diana = the Roman name for the Goddess Artemis.

What do you think? Do you have any suggestions?
Do you want to share the meaning of your name?
What's in a name?

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