What’s in a Name?

Having your name mispronounced is a cousin of being called the wrong name altogether. It carries with it a sense that you’re somehow not worthwhile enough to be bothered with.

-Elahe Izadi (xojane.com)

I’m Afoma, ah-foh-mah. I really wish I could explain the appropriate stressed syllables but I was never that keen on that part of the English Language. I do think that it’s the second syllable that’s stressed though. What’s your name?

Names are very important especially since they are vital for public identification and self identity. The problem is that like most things in this life, names can be quite complicated business. I’m so glad writer’s block did not let me write this until Kim Kardashian named her child (more on that later). I think I’ll talk about names (duh) , mostly types of names and how the public reacts to such names. Of course, the public is us, so maybe we’ll learn a thing or two about respecting people’s names.

He who shall not be named: Some names are difficult to pronounce and remember, especially when it isn’t yours or when it’s not your language, even if the name is from a Nigerian tribe. The Edos are popular for their long names. I stumbled upon a few of them recently and I was a bit intimidated. I’ll share, as usual; Aikaronehiomwan, Avenbuangbomwan, Enomwenmwonse. I found these three so difficult to pronounce. Feel free to have a go at them. The funny thing is with time, most people become accustomed to pronouncing these names, it just takes a bit of practice. Case in point; my friend in school was called Oritsegidenene and it was just plain impossible at first, but I got the hang of it with time. So, friends, practice these tongue twisters and try not to bite your tongue. African names need to pronounced with specifically stressed syllables which for some reason white people never get right. Since I’ve been here, none of them have pronounced my name right, but I let it go because I’m too lazy to do a hundred episodes of ‘repeat after me’.

Odd balls: This category is dedicated to celebrities who forget that their children may one day grow up and hate their names. Names like Apple, Blue, North, Camera, Puma, Denim, Egypt, Sparrow and more. I know you want your child to be special, I mean Kim and Kanye’s baby may well be the only girl in the world named North right now, but have some mercy on your child who will be a direction for the rest of her life. Life is hard enough for your name to be ‘North West’. Africans are also famous for naming their children after days of the week and while I’m not going to insult anyone’s name, my friends, please if you love the days of the week so much, try Nigerian names which mean ‘born on so-so day’. For example, Abosede- born on Sunday, Abiodun- born on a festival day etc. Aren’t these names richer than just plain Sunday or Friday? Try please. North is probably going ;

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Meet Me Halfway: In my opinion, some names are too… extra. Too cute, example Tiffany or Tracy. Tiffany will grow old and be someone’s granny- Grandma Tiffany. Its a little too cute, it’s almost funny. Then there’s too old: those names that you assume only old people have, except those people were once babies too *insert sigh*, examples? Matilda, Patricia. I find the idea of a baby ‘Matilda’ strange. Too common/popular. This is actually more of a problem here in Ukraine than in Nigeria; too many Olgas, Sashas, Tanyas, Oksannas *insert sigh*. I’m not saying they aren’t nice names, I’d just like to have a name three other people in class don’t turn around for. Finding a name for your child is a huge responsibility and I don’t blame a friend of mine who always joked that she’d name her children ‘Thing 1’, ‘Thing 2’ and let them pick out their names for themselves when they were old enough.

Meanings meanings: It’s my turn to confess. My name (at first glance) has one of the most embarrassing meanings ever known to man. I’ll share that later. I actually cringe when people ask what ‘Afoma’ means. It’s such a nice name when you say it, why do you have to ruin it all by asking unnecessary questions? I’ve actually told a few people in Ukraine that I don’t know what it means because I cannot be stressed. Give your children names with meanings. Rich, deep, beautiful meanings. Now, my name does have a nice meaning, but it requires that I explain it, so here goes *deep breath* It means ‘Good Stomach” and before you start to laugh, let me explain. My grandmother named me and what she meant was that I am from a good stomach (see? I told you). So, if you’ll give your child such a name, make sure you equip them properly with the meaning of their name.

In conclusion, I love African names and names from the bible so if you’re in the process of choosing names, those are good places to start and always know the meanings before you name your child ‘serpent’ or ‘thief’ or something.

And don’t laugh at other people’s names, even if it’s ‘North West’. Also, respect people enough to at least try to pronounce and remember their names.

Till later xx