Friday, December 28, 2007

Nomen est omen

The generation of Pinoys born in the last ten years have got to have the most original names of all generations of Filipinos ever since the Spanish came and gave us their names. I realized this one morning when watching Spongebob Squarepants. In the middle of the show, they have a feature called Spongebob's Birthday Bop where our favorite poriferan greets children celebrating their birthdays by posting their names on the screen, and I swear these are some of the most original names and combinations of names I have ever come across. A sample list (I have omitted the family names):

Drix Arnage
Christmay Joy
Atlana
Reham
Jherlyza
Lanz Camanse
Liv Clergy
Clyssaryll Nicolas
Hans Kirzen
Jurgen Riev
Yna Ginelle
Keneizah Elize
Mark Dharel
Zextlher Cian
Girome Daneniel
Napp Danelle and Napp Donelle (twins, I gather)

Vivienne Joyce, Elisha Carlisle, Mikaelle Dominique, Sharmaine Peachy, Yves Laurence, Emiliana Mishka, Micaelah May, Rie Miho, Justene, Grant Frederick, Aldous John Reynold, Liam Alwin, Samira Yani, Alyzza Trixia, Tsini, Juneau, John Bradley, Philline Candace, Yzavella Gwen, Chenly Anne, Phoemella Yvonne, Czerina Jo, Ethan James, Jayden, Ervin, Eryl, Jason Brent, Eihdren Joshua, Resplandor.

The names of people in my generation were the traditional Spanish or American names. In school it's more likely we had classmates with names like Pablo or Edgardo, or Stephen, or Paul, or Andrew. In fact probably the only unique name in the class was Carnilo, and even that sounded traditional. But today's parents--whoo! There seems to be a trend towards over-the-top names. It's as if parents want their kids to stand out, that by bequeathing them with names whose provenance is their own creativity, they somehow bestow upon their offspring some sense of being special. At least they hope so.

Kids' names today are vaguely American, vaguely French, vaguely British, Jewish, Arabic, exotic... and totally Pinoy, a lot of them with unnecessarily doubled letters, the preponderance of the letter Y as a vowel, the affinity for high scoring Scrabble letters like X, Z, K (Zexthler scores a 27; so does Alyzza), and the ubiquitous overworking of poor old letter H. Creative spelling also abounds, as in the reworking of the traditional Chloe into Chlouey, or Lebron James into Levron James (probably because Lebron gets an 8 in Scrabble, while Levron gets a 9).

A recent study shows that names may indeed influence a child's destiny. This was the view of the ancients as well. One wonders what sort of destiny their parents had in mind when they named them. The Chinese Filipinos in my generation gave their children stately names--Washington, Jefferson, Winston--no doubt because they wanted their children to excel. And there is something oddly mellifluous about the rhythm of a monosyllabic Chinese family name and a western 'regal' first name in combo. Plus they also have their Chinese names.

Our Chinese colleagues (Chinese Chinese) also get to give themselves Western names in addition to the Chinese names given them at birth. They do this in college if Im not mistaken, to prepare themselves for the world at large although I never understood the reason for this. Why can't they just use their Chinese names? Some opt for the usual, like Michelle, or James, or Peter, or Eric, and some can get creative: Amyly, Shmily. Some can get downright poetic: Friends, Golden, Four Fires, Dragon, Seaboy. One, for some reason, chose the name Oven. But like I sain, they chose these names for themselves. Our kids have names chosen for them. I wonder what it would be like growing up burdened with a name like Bien Alexandraye. I would be quite a name to live up to. But then again, if you have classmates named Charlz Francoise, Natasha Christelle, Vryle Zhane, or Semn Emmanuel, I suppose you'd blend right in and won't feel any pressure at all.

Im sure the Pinoy parents have their kids' best interests at heart when they named them such. They probably have dreams for them and their future and chose their names carefully with much pondering and discussion. Perhaps I am out of touch, but from where I sit, the only destiny I see with names like those are in show business or maybe in sales. Somehow I don't see myself voting for a President Denizel Jherein D. Calubaquib.

5 comments:

Bryan Anthony the First said...

parents are bowel haters

they give their kids bowel-less names...not even a pseudo bowel "y"

FHTZLT... something like that

para syang word verification sa blogger

hahaha

a colorful new year!

Woof!

Anonymous said...

jego, merong tsinoys whose first names are Healthy and Wealthy. magkapatid yon. who'd you rather be? =)

-dkny.ca

Jego said...

We have a colleague in the China office named Wang Dong Dong. He chose as his western name King. So he's now King Wang Dong Dong.

In Utrecht last year, I worked with a man named Johnson who oversaw our project. King arrived and we decided to meet later at a pub downtown. I couldnt resist. I said, "Mr. Wang and Mr. Johnson, together at last."

Johnson said, "I wish we invited Mr. Cockschlagger."

bw said...

Great list ! I am one of those conferred a confusing name and hated my parents for it.

My take on this one is Pinoys have really no love for their culture or perhaps we don't really think that Spanish sounding first names are authentic Pinoy names. Authentic Pinoy names are quite few and no one wants to name their kids Bayani, Ligaya or Luningning anymore !

Jego said...

Yeah, bw. A pity. Pinoy names are beautiful. That's why I gave my girls Tagalog names.