Sunday, June 2, 2013

What’s in a Name? The Crucial Use for Nationalists of Root Languages for Baby Names.

by Carla O’Hara.

Could I really begin with any other colloquialism than Shakespeare’s remark by Juliet “What’s in a name? That which we call a rose by any other name would smell as sweet.” But would it?
It seems that more Aussie parents are opting for unique baby names, according to new data from the pregnancy and parenting website BabyCenter. For example, Ace, Batman, Bear, Blaze and Charisma are just some of the unusual names parents conjured up for their newborns in 2012. But do they have any meaning? And what are the implications for the child?
Parents coming up with these obscure and unusual names tend to be liberally minded and choose names with no real identity except for the fact that they are obscure and unusual names. Other liberally minded progressive avant-garde parents will pick in vogue pop culture names referencing the latest movie that’s been released by Hollywood. So expect “Cullen (Edward Cullen – twilight), Everdeen and Primrose (The Hunger Games), Arwen and Eowyn (Lord of the Rings)” to be on the bizarre baby name list in the next few years.
The real question is, does this rise in adopting unusual names have any opportunity for Nationalists? The answer of course is, YES.
English has become the language synonymous with Globalisation. English is now so commonly spoken it serves to only ensure the death of diversity within existing languages, culture, identity and race. No doubt, this is partly the reason why so called ‘liberally minded avant-garde’ parents are choosing obscure and unusual names, without really fully comprehending why they want to do this.
It occurred to me when naming my children, that if I was to use a name like Todd, Mary, Kate, John or Jack, that these names and basically all English names had been co-opted by millions of non-Caucasians all over the world. As the world becomes a global city, non-White migrants in Western Nations opt to give their children names that will see them assimilate better into the host nation. Some of these migrants adopt their new Country with such zeal that they ensure there is no trace of their ancestry in their children’s names. This is extremely common with third and fourth generation Asians and Indians.
There is a trend however, with first generation and some second generation migrants to give their children a name that is based on their ancestry. That is, a traditional ethnic name which they use for their official documents, i.e. tax purposes, drivers licence, insurance and a second English name used on a day-to-day basis which they believe is easier for their co-workers, friends and associates to pronounce. This of course gave rise to an idea!
I spent months searching for my children’s names. Trawling through books, websites and speaking to as many different speakers of both Irish and Scottish Gaelic. I am not a native speaker of either, and my ancestry is as “Australian” as you can get on both maternal and paternal sides for generations. My husband was reluctant to go down the path of Gaelic names and spelling, believing it would set our children up for future harassment, frustration and general isolation from their English named peers. He was not the only resistance I encountered when going down this road. Whether or not you are familiar with Gaelic names, it’s not difficult to do a quick bit of google research to know that the spellings do not appear anything at all like the English pronunciation. So the idea struck me. If Asians in Australia can have a traditional ethnic name and use a preferred name, why can’t Caucasians? Why couldn’t my children have their Gaelic name and use an English or anglicised spelling at school or at work and on their resumes?
It was this line of thinking which started me on my journey to developing what I call the ‘use for Nationalists of Root Languages for Baby Names strategy’. But first, a bit of Irish history.
Róisín Dubh (pronounced Ro-sheen dove or Ro-sheen doo, meaning “Black Rose”), was a poem written in the 16th centuryand is one of Ireland’s most famous political songs. It is based on an older love-lyric which referred to the poet’s beloved rather than being a metaphor for Ireland. However, the intimate tone of the original carries over into the political song towards the end of the poem. The reason behind the transposing of Ireland as a maiden was not merely poetic, but also avoided the English persecution at the time on songs about Ireland. The final stanza of the poem is as follows:
The Erne shall rise in rude torrents, hills shall be rent,
The sea shall roll in red waves, and blood be poured out,
Every mountain glen in Ireland, and the bogs shall quake
Some day ere shall perish my Little Dark Rose!
In keeping with the tradition of being persecuted for patriotic sentiment, it occurred to me that this technique of subtle references and metaphors is the perfect way for Nationalists to inadvertently suggest to the outside world their pride and connection to their heritage – through their children’s names.
Giving your children Gaelic names that have Gaelic spellings means you will receive a significant backlash. “Why on Earth are you doing this?” “Why would you make your children’s lives difficult with spellings completely different to the English language they will learn?” I am fairly certain that the parents of “Ace” and “Bear” did not receive the same backlash that I did for wanting to choose a name that connects to my ancient heritage. This only reaffirmed my belief that I was on the correct path for my children. The months that I spent searching for their names and looking for spellings, verifying them, ensuring the translation had a significant meaning like “White, Warrior, Intelligent, Beautiful, Radiant” etc ensured I was getting a legitimate name and spelling to a native Gaelic speaker. My children’s names were not names that were chosen based solely on their sound or a desire to be outlandish, but based on ancient traditions with significant meanings.
However, with all the backlash, I was concerned about how my unorthodox approach to baby names would affect my children in the long term. Research has shown that a child’s name can have lasting implications on them for the rest of their lives. In one study, David Figlio, an economics and education professor at Northwestern University analyzed the effects on children with so-called “linguistically low-status” names. Across all races and ethnicities, there are certain letter combinations that are more likely to be given by high-school-drop-out moms. Among white families, Alexandra may be spelled Alekzandra; the “kz” combo is almost never seen in middle-class families. For African Americans, it may mean use of the prefix “Sha” rather than the more highly regarded “La.” Figlio found that teachers treat kids with low-status names differently: they’re more likely to be referred for special education, less likely to be recognized as gifted and they perform poorer on tests, according to research published in 2005 by the National Bureau of Economic Research.
I also spent a good deal of time using the google search engine to evaluate baby names. Apparently I am not alone as many parents-to-be also routinely use google, worried about their unborn child’s future digital footprint. Parents are also using online searches to vet the spellings of names they’re considering. “A quick search can help ensure that a child is not saddled with the name of a serial killer, pornography star or sex offender,” wrote the Times. One couple shunned “Kalia” in favor of their own creation, “Kaleya,” after the former popped up images of busty women in thongs.
“People draw subconscious cues all the time about people. You meet a person for the first time and without thinking about it on an explicit level you’re looking at the way they’re walking, what their accent sounds like, how they’re dressed, whether they smell … and you’re developing these immediate reactions,” Figlio said.
It is for these reasons that I’m convinced that giving my children Gaelic names that are difficult to spell and recognise in English, but easy enough to pronounce, was the right decision. They will have their Gaelic name on their official documents, and should they find it easier at work or in the classroom and to include on their resumes their anglicised spelling, so be it. However, should they choose when they are older to keep with their Gaelic spelling, they will no doubt have a lifetime of frustration explaining the spelling over the phone to Indian call centre employees, people at the checkout or wherever they work and at school to peers and teachers. But at the same time, it will instigate a conversation.
“How do you say your name?”
“A Gaelic name you say, are your parents Irish?”
“Just proud of their heritage? Really? Ok”.
“Oh, you like it because it has a meaning when translated”.
and so on….
Not all conversations to elicit an individuals philosophy and acceptance of Nationalist principles need to begin with “What is your opinion on the boat people, economic migrants, racial mixing, adoption of non-Whites amongst whites, demographic extinction, the birth rate in Western Nations…” and so on. The conversation can begin with an acknowledgement and respect for diversity and culture, and the desire and necessity to keep our root languages alive.
My children will not need me to force patriotic beliefs onto them. Their names will allow them to experience firsthand how their ancestral culture has been displaced and lost over time. They will be forced to explain their parents choice of name and spelling, our pride, and the meaning of the names when translated. Why? Because our true history is not found in books, it is found in our blood.
This article has focused on using Gaelic names purely because the author’s heritage is Gaelic/ Celtic. For others with a more European background, root languages for baby names will include Indo-European languages such as old Saxon, Norse, or Latin. Furthermore, it is highly unlikely that non-Caucasians will use these traditional old Gaelic and Indo-European spellings for names as they have no real connection to them in the New World, and would be more likely with the rise of identity politics to use a name based on their own ancestry. Thus, these ancient spellings that date back to our root languages are our modern ‘Black Rose’.