Gigantic Idiot

#78: Proper names are poetry in the raw. Like all poetry they are untranslatable.

Anyone whose name is Sarah can attest to the fact that Sarah is a very common name. Not that we’re complaining. On our team, we have Sarah Michelle Gellar and Sarah Jessica Parker, who are both strong representatives of the name, but there’s a reason our fellow teammates use their middle names: Sarah is a little boring!

That’s why I’ve gone by Sarah Jo for most of my life. It started in elementary school when Sarah after Sarah moved to my town, and I learned that the name Sarah wasn’t so special even though it means ‘princess’ in Hebrew. So I kept my middle moniker through high school and college as a way to help my teachers separate me from the other Sarahs in my classes. But even Sarah Jo isn’t as special as I sometimes want it to be. I mean, I met half a dozen Sarah Jos in college, and let’s face it, it sounds a bit country.

Maybe it’s the Jo. It’s redeemed by Jo in Louisa May Alcott‘s Little Women, because Jo was pretty strong. But it’s sorta common, too, at least in my circle: Amy Jo (my college roommate), Vicky Jo (my mom), Martha Jo (my mother-in-law), and Hannah Jo (my niece).

Sometimes you just need a change. I found the Random Renamer at BabyNames.com today. (No, I’m not pregnant. I went to the site because it was referenced on NPR and I was bored.) I entered my name and gender and selected a personality type, and the Renamer gave me these new names based on the personality type selected:

  • Stylish Jia Kuniko Austin
  • Traditional Milan London Austin
  • Wild Oona Ayanna Austin
  • Creative Eirlys Fleur Austin
  • Natural Mirah More Austin
  • Quiet Evadne Satya Austin
  • Friendly Uta Qing Austin
  • Philosophical Zara Quasar Austin
  • Ambitious Ciqala Justine Austin

I was bit sad that they didn’t have a personality type for abrasive. I was once called that by a customer at Applebee’s, and it’s always stuck with me, so I’ve created my own name for that personality type:

  • Abrasive Harmony Oklahoma Austin

Harmony makes you think I’m a nice person at first, but then you realize that Oklahoma makes me a little bad ass. I’ve had the name sitting in my back pocket for a while, and I thought it was time to break it out. Get out of the way, Sarah Michelle and Sarah Jessica, Sarah Jo “Harmony Oklahoma” Austin is in town!

“Proper names are poetry in the raw. Like all poetry they are untranslatable.” — W. H. Auden

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2 thoughts on “#78: Proper names are poetry in the raw. Like all poetry they are untranslatable.

  1. I agree…Sarah is a much too common name. We had Sarah’s by the hoards in my class in school. It was awful. We all went by different variations of our name, first name, first and last initials, first and last name, first and half of last name, last name only. No fun! I’ve been plain ‘ole Sarah or Sarah Beth (because Sarah Elizabeth is much to cumbersome) forever. Obviously the name Sarah was all the rage when we were young. As I said, my real name is Sarah Elizabeth, but my Grandpa got so mad that my parents didn’t name me Sarah Jane (because all knowledgeable people according to him know that if they name a baby Sarah she must be a Sarah Jane) that he just calls me Jane. He has since the day I was born!Hmmmm…not so sure on your new replacement names. They are very, shall we say, foreign-ish? I don’t think I can pronouce half of them correctly!

  2. On the other side of the coin, having a very unique name, has its drawbacks as well. Growing up with the name “Micheline” was not necessarily much fun either.I am so used to my name being mispronounced, being called “Michelle,” having my name misspelled, etc. that I’ve just resorted to going by “Mish” whenever I’m in a place where someone needs to write my name (i.e. Starbucks). And besides having a very complicated name no one can pronounce, you then have to deal with the ridicule as a child of having a weird name.There were times as a child I wished I had a simple name. As an adult, it’s a little better – I personally like my name, but it’s not any easier on the pronunciation front. I even have people try to correct the spelling of my name as well.Alas, I just say my name “Micheline” and then follow it up with “Like the tire, but with an ‘e’ at the end.” Yah, now I’m associated with a big fat white guy with rolls. Niiice.

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