or, stuff that I dragged out of my head

Location: Moncton, New Brunswick, Canada

Saturday, July 02, 2005

A Reader Writes

Brownstudy had this to say about Thursday's post:

"I remember reading somewhere about a non-English speaking woman who wanted to name her daughter "Diahhrea" because she loved the sounds of the word. She was very unhappy when told what it meant."

It's a good story, but it almost certainly is just a story: there have been many such tales of ignorant parents wanting to give their children elegant-sounding but inappropriate names. (When I heard the story first, it was "Gonorrhea".) It's been widely used in the movies, such as the 1982 remake of Cat People, which had Ruby Dee playing a character named Female (that's "fuh-MAH-lee"), and in TV shows, such as "The Simpsons", which had the stock hick character Brandine about to name her newest daughter Rubella Scabies Spuckler. Naturally, you can read much more on the subject at Snopes.com, which you all should be reading at least a couple of times a week if you aren't already.

There are plenty of English words which sound beautiful and would make very appealing names if we could ignore their literal meanings. I have always thought that Caffeine and Theobromine (a chemical cousin found in chocolate) would make lovely names for girls, and I always liked the sound of Trench for a boy, if only it didn't mean what it does and suggest such horrible nicknames as Trench-Mouth. (Rubella would really be a very pretty name for a girl if it weren't German measles.)

I went to university with a young woman named Diana Rahman who, if I am remembering this story correctly, had a physicist father who named his first-born son Proton and would have named the other children after subatomic particles had the wife not put a stop to it. You don't think I'm making that up, do you? Here he is.


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