Thursday, November 11, 2010

What's in a name?

Would a rose by any other name smell as sweet? Shakespeare thought so. Would our sweet Jane be as sweet with another name? I'm sure she would, but it's hard to imagine her by any other name.
Choosing a name for our daughter was one of the most difficult things we have ever done. Of course "What is her name?" is one of the first question people ask us. We have gotten mixed reactions when we tell people that we named our daughter Jane. We have gotten many compliments on the name we chose. Even one of our nurses at the hospital complimented us, noting that with a name like Jane, there would never be any doubt as to whether she was a boy or a girl. With today's plethora of unisex names, that was definitely one of the considerations when we were choosing a name.
Others react quite differently. I've only had one "Plain Jane" comment so far. This was a couple of months before she was born. I wanted to point out to the person who made the comment that her daughter's name, Emily, is and has been much more popular than Jane ever was, and is therefore the "plainer" name, but I refrained. Many people seem surprised. I can see why. The name Jane is not at all trendy at this time. It is classic and timeless. It will never scream, "I was born in 2010" the way today's trendy names such as Addison (which is not even a real name, but I'll stay away from that topic), and Ava will. I'm sure these same people, if I told them we named her Madison or Brielle, would say, "Oh, isn't that cute!" To them, Jane probably sounds dated. It happens in every generation. The names we grew up hearing our parents and peers called by sound dated to us, while the names of our grandmothers and great-grandmothers sound fresh. My generation's children will name their children Linda and Walter. We will find these names horribly dated, but our children will love them.
Many people ask if she is named after someone. As if we'd have to have a reason to give her the name Jane. When I tell them that she is named after my mother, I usually get a blank stare. Most people know my mom as Jan, but her full name is Janet. Janet was originally a nickname for the name Jane. Yet no one - absolutely no one - seems to know that but me. Oh, well. "I'm a name nerd," I simply explain to them. I spare them further pointless knowledge, such as how Molly is a nickname for Mary, and Nancy is a nickname for Ann, for fear that their heads would spin.
Of course it doesn't matter what other people think of my daughter's name. I love it, and I believe it will serve her very well. I once heard that the best way to decide on a name for your child is to put the words "Supreme Court Justice" in front of it, and if it sounds right, you've chosen a good name. If it sounds more plausible for you to say, "Now dancing for us at the Lusty Beaver ..." you may want to reconsider! I definitely think we've given our daughter a Supreme Court Justice name.

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