Following my post regarding names and over-achieving name-alikeys, a correspondent of mine writes:
I wanted to call my son Ebenezer. I wanted him to have a unique name, and I don’t know any other kids called that. When he grew up, he could shorten it to ‘Ben’ if he wanted, or if he fancied something a bit more street, he could call himself ‘Ezey’, like if he was a DJ or something. It would be a good stage name. It would look good on a book jacket. Everyone he met would remember him. He would be talked about. People would say “Do you know Ebenezer?”
But my wife wasn’t having any of that. She said that kids at school might bully him. So instead we named him John, after my Dad. My son John, who must now compete for attention with the billions of other Johns out there.
Earlier this year, sitting on a bus winding through the hills of Sri Lanka, I met a British couple who were expecting a baby. He was a Scotsman, while she was of Sinhalese Sri Lankan parentage. They were discussing what name to give the baby. Part of the discussion was to find a combination of first and middle names which acknowledged their disparate heritage. Would the child take on the father’s monosyllabic Scottish surname, it’s mother’s polysyllabic Sri Lankan second name, or a hyphenated tongue-twister which combined the two? I wondered to what extent the origin of the name would affect the child’s relationship to the world around them. In those weeks before a decision was made, the baby had as much chance of being named Christopher or Angus, as being named Dilip, or Hasantha. Born into the twenty-first century UK, he would not, I hope, suffer any prejudice, had his parents chosen the latter moniker. However, it would serve as a constant reminder of his heritage in a far-off continent. What effect would this have on his approach to life, his politics, his “identity”? I imagine it would be quite significant, and positive. EbenezerJohn’s father clearly agrees… as did Johnny Cash when he wrote “A Boy Named Sue”.
Or; Would Cassisus Clay have won as many fights as Muhammed Ali?