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Wednesday, July 20, 2011

What's In a Name?

Gwyneth Llewellyn posted a longish rant about names on G+, which is quoted here by Osprey. It got me to thinking (again) about my names.

When I was born, the presiding nuns performed  "an emergency baptism", presumably because I was not expected to live, and needed a Catholic passport through the pearly gates. I was named Mary. My mother disliked that name and in fact had a name already in mind for me, should I be a girl, so the name Ellen was tacked on that and I became Ellen Mary. That stuck for a number of years, until I was confirmed, at which time I took on the name Anne, as each child being confirmed was supposed to take a new name, signifying that he or she was a new person from that moment on. I was now Ellen Mary Anne Flatley.

I got married, and I was then Ellen Mary Anne Flatley Malcheski.

I got divorced and became a hippie and became simply Sundown.

I became quite a feminist, and changed my surname to McCormick, which meant, to me, that I belonged neither to my father nor to my ex-husband. The name was my grandmother's maiden name.

I remarried and took my husband's surname in the traditional manner, and became Ellen McCormick Martens, which name I now use for my painting signature. It is terribly long for that but oh well.

I joined the slightly open BETA of Uru Live, and gave myself the name Enjah, which I made up. Since then I have found it already existed in some other cultures.

I then went to There, where I remained Enjah, and to Second Life, where I had to choose a surname. I liked Mysterio, which has since been retired as a surname.

I created "alts", other avatars to use for different activities, and now have Edward Manray, Elle Michabo, Eileen McTeague and Emma Metropolitan (all with my initials for ease of remembering their names) and Fuzzy Bunyip (yes, I broke my own tradition), who is distrusted by all.

Then I created characters in Second Life, whose names are various, including the infamous Margaux.

She finally got a surname when I needed to have her inworld with my main avatar. Meet Margaux Bluxome!


Osprey said...

As far as I know it's a Yank thing to add the husband's surname onto the wife's complete name (rather than the wife taking the husband's surname as her own). The changes to names are complex and varied across the globe, and confusing, I think (at least to me).

I never changed mine, even when I was married, and I am rather attached to it. In Olympia there's a couple who combined names, becoming, say, not Smith or Jones but Smones (not their actual name just an example but their actual name isn't much better - I have just forgotten it). That's somewhat horrible, I think.

C.M.Lucy said...

at a recent memorial gathering of both sides of my extended family, i was introducing a college friend around, and realized that almost everyone in my clan goes by some appellation other than their legal name, sometimes a childhood name, and sometimes one of their own choosing. i began to wonder if "nickname" referred to "old nick" and was used to keep the devil from knowing your real name?