What’s in a name?

We have a guest who, for reasons unknown to us, renames us all. Gift, who is his main carer, is called Ziggy. How this happened I have no idea. Gift does not even sound like Ziggy and in my mind a “Ziggy” is a short, plump, bald chap. Our Gift is tall, with ebony skin and fabulously wide shoulders. The guest also calls my two female millennial interns (named Storm and Samantha in real life) Vanessa. He calls them both Vanessa. We originally thought that perhaps he thought they were the same person, but even if they are both with him, they are both still Vanessa. He calls Nobuhle, Beauty, and he calls the chef absolutely nothing. He just loves, waves and compliments him, but he remains nameless.

I have always loved names and their origins. This is probably because I have the Afrikaner-curse of mixing up some syllables from grandparents and then squashing them together into a name. (My name and my sister’s are both a mixture of our two grannies). When anthropologists write about the Afrikaner tribe one day, they will no doubt mention this weird tradition. We have now also started taking parts of the parents’ names to make up new names. Jaco and Marlene;s child will be Jacolene or (I kid you not) Marco. Usually, they like to add an accent somewhere too, so Lorette and Bernard’s child, whose granny was Sandra, will become Bersanetté. I have many a horror name I can share, but this blog is supposed to be family friendly. Suffice it to say, I think this cruel tradition should be re-thought.

Other cultures do weird things with names too. Apart from lovely ethnic names with deep roots, many African people choose strange English names for their offspring. Last week at our church we wished “Mona-Lisa” Ndlovu happy birthday. I had a “Take-over” that sent me his CV, “Stillborn” once worked for me and “Hardlife” is a car guard at my local Checkers.

Some parents made it clear to their children from the very beginning that they were not quite planned or particularly wanted by naming them Surprise, Substitute, Another, Trymore, Limited, Settlement and this is my worst… Okay.

We all also know you are messing with fate when you call a child Brilliant, as he is usually not a member of Mensa. Beauty, to my knowledge, has never won a Miss SA competition and Prosper and Fortune have seldom made the Forbes list of richest people. Many a Blessed begs at a robot, many a Patience loses her cool at home-affairs and Smile often rather shouldn’t, due to his missed dentist appointments.

My favourite by far were the names that came after the 2010 World cup. Many ten year old children are named Brazil, Argentina, Portugal. Other beauties are Park-and-ride, Goal, Striker, Soccer-city, Offside, Redcard and Halftime.

A few young adults in their early twenties born in 1994 have names like Ballot-box, Queue, Vote, Party, Polling-station and Democracy. Today my friend Murray suggested that a good name for an Afrikaans kid on election day is “Wouter”

Don’t you just love this country? There is simply nothing boring about us or what we are called.

One thing is certain though, this guest can call us what he wants, but when he DOES call or press his nurse-call button, we all come running.

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