On naming conventions.

The issue of names have revealed another huge chasm between the way the Star sees things and the world view of the Comet.

In the UK the Star has a name which anyone under forty and not Russian has to say ‘what?’ a few times before they get it (and then they will still mispronounce it). Anyone over forty tends to peg the inspiration fairly accurately to a US spy series from the 1960s. They still say it wrongly though.

This lack of notoriety is just fine by you although you do feel the urge to shout at people about their placement of stress on the wrong syLAble sometimes. What is less fine is that this name, which in Russia used to be acceptably recognisable but relatively uncommon, has, along with a lot of pre-Soviet monikers, suddenly become a lot more popular. In fact, you can barely enter a playground these days without tripping over at least three more boys with the same name. You, who never met another Solnushka until you shared a house with one at Uni, find this quite unsettling. It’s still only in the top 25 or so rather than the top ten, but perhaps, after all, you should have gone with Ignat.

Ah well. Next time.

Anyway. The Star, perhaps because for a long time he had never met anyone with his name, your name, B’s name, or his best friend’s name, would react with astonishment whenever he heard the name of one of his classmates applied to characters on the telly. He found it very hard indeed to grasp the concept that they weren’t referring to the people he knew.

Luckily many of the children at his school have totally bonkers names too, so this didn’t happen too often.

The Star also developed a unique approach to what he called his toys.

Nonsense words.

Often unpronounceable nonsense words. Your absolute favourite was the dinosaur known as Harbel de Nosey, said as though there was a mechisnack on the end of the first word.

These days, he tends to re-purpose actual words. Hopefully he will work through this phase by calling his fish things like Pop and Chop, rather than his first set of twins. But you do rather pity his future children.

You blame the girl at his school called Chardonnay. Or rather, her mother.

The Comet, by contrast, has a fairly normal name in both English and Russian.

There is the occasional bit of confusion over the fact that her Babushka shares it, but by and large it passes unremarked, except that almost everyone can think of a character from literature with the same name, and it is invariably not a particularly pleasant person.

The first person to find a positive role model for the Comet in the form of a famous person of the same name gets a sweetie. So far, it hasn’t happened yet. Bugger.

But the impact this mundanity has had on the Comet is clear to see. Horses are all called Horsey. Zebras are Zebra. Girafes are Girafe. Princesses are all Princessa, baby dolls are My Baby and all unicorns are called Licorn, which is as close as she can get. Very ocassionally she will strecth a point and add a defining adjective, like Big Horsey or Small Horsey or Wombat Horsey (it looks like a wombat. No, really, it does), which is good because you have a lot of horseys lying about the place these days and they are all her favourites.

Or they are called Comet.

Never let it be said your daughter has not inherited anything from you.

Ruthless self-centredness clearly runs in the family.

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4 thoughts on “On naming conventions.

      • Emmi says:

        hehe=))) well for years now most newborn boys in Russia have been called Nikita, Artyom and Danila. I mean literally every toddler you see on the russian playgrounds has one of those names. And girls are nothing but Polina. three and I mean three of my Russian femal friends have called their daughters Polina. its like an obsession or smth, a generation ago everyone used to be either Sasha or Masha or Dasha now its Polina. as if Russia has a shortage of names. they actually do have the same long list of all possible christian names (just pronounced differently) as we do in western europe, they just use only a handfull of those. maybe 75% of names are not considered cool in Russia so every parent is stuck with the choice of three – five names. the British, on the other hand are much more original. during my years of living in UK I came across Poppies, Daisies, Cupcakes, girls called Sunshine, Desire and Promise. but Russians have all those littlle cutesy names at least (even the primitive Sasha has at least 10 different forms). I hope you will never call a child of yours Poppy or Daisy!

        • Poppy and Daisy are pretty normal names for the UK. All the pretty flowers are. Long tradition of Roses, Irises, Marigolds and so on and so forth. My brother was nearly a Rosemary.

          Cupcake, on the other hand… Good grief!

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