Saturday, September 13, 2008

What's in a name?

I think I'm obsessed with names. When Tyler and I got married, I would always ask him, "What do you think of this name?" And he'd usually just shrug. But when I discovered I wouldn't be able to name kids any time soon, I turned to writing.

I love to write. One of my favorite parts about writing is that I get to use all those awesome names I fell in love with that Tyler just shrugs at. The difference in our opinion in names comes from our roots I think. You see it when we compare his family names to my family names. His: Bart, Sheila, Shawn, Toby, Heather, Tyler, Ryan. Mine: Orey, Marina, Maura, Deborah, Rebekah, Alexander, Marina (another one, not a typo) and Eric.

So you see how my family is not new to different names that people don't hear often. In all my years (and there's a lot) I've only met a handful of Debras. And probably only one other Deborah. Maybe two.

And now the search is on for my sister-in-law Kadie. Her baby is due in a month and she and her husband are having, shall we say, difficulties deciding on a name they both like. And of course trying to be the "helpful" sister-in-law (enter the mischievous laugh here), I give her names like Gemini and Jarvin. (If you know someone with those names or you named your own child one of those names, I'm sorry. I mean no offense.)Those usually get me a good laugh. But I have been scouring for names and every time I come up with one I like I share it with them. Usually Kadie tells me, "Ryan doesn't like that one." It's funny because there really hasn't been a time where I gave her a name and she said she didn't like it. So she and I kind of agree on names, and Ryan and Tyler don't agree with us. Hmmmmm....could it be roots?

But I digress. I love to write and I love to name. I also love to read. I'll go through two books a week, sometimes three or four. I love to read.

One thing that drives me nuts when I read is when I can't pronounce a name. That is the worst! Actually, the worst is when it's a main character, or one of the main characters.

Like Twilight, for example. I love the books, I'll just get that out of the way right now. Carlisle. I had more than one person ask me, "How do you say his name? Carl-lissle?" I don't know how I knew it was Carl-lyle, but I did. In fact, I had a certain sister who didn't believe me, but I won't name her name because she's younger than me, but not my youngest sister, and I don't want to embarrass her;) She really didn't believe me until a few weeks later when someone else said his name and I was validated. But what about Carlisle's wife? Esme. How on earth do you say that name? I always said Ehz-mee. I've seen trailers for the movie and they said Ehz-may. Hmm. How am I to know? They don't come with a pronunciation guide.

Actually, if you've ever read Eragon or Eldest, you could just kiss Christopher Paolini for adding a pronunciation guide at the end of his book and including names. But of course you shouldn't kiss him because he's probably still a minor.

I wrote a sci-fi kind of romance. I'm not sure what to call it, but that's the closest I could think of because there's a porthole type thing that allows instantaneous travel between two planets. Anyway. My main character named herself (as you find sometimes when you write. Your characters do things you didn't mean for them to do and you have to get frustrated but just let them do it). Her name is Dasah. And I tried to somehow help the reader understand that her name is Dah-suh. The other main character is Kjel. I LOVE that name. But how would you pronounce it? It's Kell. But would you have read it Kay-gel? Gosh I hope not. What a tragic way to pronounce such a wonderful name. You can probably see why Tyler just shrugs when I give him names to consider:)

But enough about me and my quirks. I've written this post for a reason, and if you hang with me long enough, I'll get to it.

I just read a book last week (that I won't even name because it's not worth recommending. There are others in the series and I won't read them) and I was irritated from the start to see that the name was one I couldn't pronounce. I read the entire book unsure of how to say it. The main character!

In fact, I had to make do, so I read her name exactly how I saw it. So it came out Shooler. What a tragic name. Shooler. You hear a name like that and you wonder if A) it is a family name or B) the parents hated them. Ok, I'm not that cruel, but come on. Shooler? I even showed the name to Tyler and said, "How do you say that?"

He sort of scrunched up is face and turned his head a few times as if the change in angle would give him better insight in how to say the name. Finally he curled his lip in disgust and said, "Shooler?" I laughed and told him that's what I read too.

Then 3/4ths of the way through, they author made a reference to a nickname that condensed the name to only the first syllable. It took me a minute to figure out who they were talking about because the nickname was not Shoe. I thought, who the heck is that? Then it hit me and I had to go back to the full length name and sound it out. Sure enough.

The name is Schuyler. How would you read that?

Go ahead. I'll give you a minute.

If you already know, no fair. If you don't know, sound it out. And now can you see why I read most of the book as Shooler? I thought the 'c' gave it kind of a Sean Connery accent. (Try it. Shooler with a Sean Connery accent. That'll give you a good laugh.) And even after I learned how to pronounce her name (yes, it was a her), I still read it Shooler because I just couldn't believe it.

Ok, I'll give you a hint. The nickname was Sky.

Schuyler = Skyler.

Makes sense, doesn't it? Sch (as in school) = sk. Uy (as in guy) = y. Ler (as in ler) = ler. Schuyler.

I still read it as Shooler. Pin It