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Whats in a name - swati rai
Swati Rai

What's in a Name?

POSTED ON 30 Jun 2015
3 Min read

What’s in a name? Good old Shakespeare was perhaps right when in his epic Tragi-comedy, Romeo and Juliet, Juliet Capaulet tells her ‘Romeo’ that his Sir name ‘Montague’ or ‘Monroe’ didn’t matter! I quote "What's in a name? That which we call a rose, by any other name would smell as sweet."

Let me play the Devil’s advocate by arguing the case for a nameless society. Isn’t naming a person just a fruitless convention by overenthusiastic and highly ambitious parents such as all of us? Imagine a world without names? A world where name and most importantly ‘Sir Name’ wouldn’t affect our impression of a human being! A world where everyone would be allowed to call anyone anything! Would it lead to chaos, confusion or classlessness and cohesion? The question is, does the name shape a personality or is it the other way around? After all, the very mention of a name brings to the mind a certain connotation of attendant qualities.

The act of naming a person is clearly very important as a great amount of time, energy and intent is invested into it. More and more parents refer to stars, numbers, mythology and religion to get a name that would be aspirational and unique! In the quest of ‘unheard’ names even the uniqueness of names is getting standard! The more things change the more they remain the same. One can say that naming is for convenience’s sake so as not mistake Obama for Osama! Agreed, but there isn’t any need to make even such a thing as naming a child, a competitive sport. Name is an answer to the question “Who are you?” Shouldn’t someone’s name imply what you stand for?

It is true that there are many people who apply for a change of name later in life. There are many factors that may lead to a child changing his name. So an extra ‘A’ as in Aakshay, or deleting I from Vijay to appease numerology norms or abbreviating names for the sake of convenience in articulation is common these days.  No wonder one sees so many ghost names, A.K.A’s, pen names and also anonymous these days!

Theoretically speaking, naming a person is wishful thinking that someone called Krishna can’t be a terrorist, or a girl named Sita will be divine. Whatever be the reason, I suppose imagining a ‘nameless’ society is inconceivable, but placing excessive faith in a name is also misplaced optimism or pessimism, depending on what one’s name is! 

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Written by Swati Rai

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