What Do You Know about Names?

As long as their has been language, there have been names. Through naming we differentiate one person or thing from all others. In Christian societies the child is christened in church. He or she is given a name and accepted into the religion. In the past it was considered unlucky for anyone outside the family to hear the name of the baby before he or she was christened. Some Australian Aborigines keep their name a secret and always use a nickname as they believe that if someone finds out their name, they will have control over them. In China names are believed to reflect the character of a person. Many girls are given names that signify beauty. Boys are given names that reflect strength and good health. In some countries, name choices are regulated by the government.

A person’s Christian name is his or her first name, especially when they are given this name in a Christian religious ceremony. Middle name is the name that is between a person’s first name and his or her family name. It is common in the US and the UK for people to have one or more middle names, though they do not usually use these names. Some parents give their kids middle names that are the same as the first name of someone else in the family. In the US, people often include the first letter of their middle name as part of their name, for example John F. Kennedy. A person’s family name or surname is the name he or she shares with all the members of their family. In the course of their lives many people get nicknames that reflect some particularities of their appearance or character. Children are often given nicknames by their classmates and friends, and many last into adult life.

A lot of parents nowadays find it very difficult to choose names for their children. They are pulling ideas from books, magazines and Web sites. Some are even hiring professional baby-name consultants. Some parents call their children after their friends or relatives. Other people call their kids after fictional characters, pop stars or film actors. Since the 1950s, television has been the most effective medium for creating new name fashions. Video and computer games have also become name sources nowadays.

All parents want their kids to be successful and happy and they try to find names with characteristics. Some parents choose names which mean richness such as Darius, Daria, Edwina, Pluto, Richmond and Donald. They believe that a name can mold a child’s personality, give strength, wealth or wisdom. Nowadays parents are more likely to search out less common names for their children. For example a girl in Washington was christened Merry Christmas and her surname was Day. Most names have a meaning. For example Victoria comes from a Latin word ‘victoria’ meaning ‘victory’. Margaret derived from Latin Margarita, which was from Greek ‘margarites’ meaning ‘pearl’. Diana means ‘heavenly, divine’.

Choosing your baby’s name is a very difficult decision because it will become an important part of his life and self-image. Bruce Lansky, an author of eight books on baby names, says that ‘when you pick the right name, you are giving your child a head start’. Psychologists say that common names elicit positive reactions, while unusual names bring negative responses. A person’s name can create a positive or a negative image. Having a popular name may be an advantage, for example when a person submits a job application.

Like everything else, names come in and out of fashion. Some names become very popular, then they disappear. But very often they come back. Babynamesworld. com gives a list of the 10 most popular names in 2007.
1. Jacob
2. Michael
3. Ethan
4. Joshua
5. Daniel
6. Christopher
7. Anthony
8. Emily
9. Isabella
10. William

1. Read the following sentences and circle TRUE or FALSE: 1) In the past it was considered lucky for anyone outside the family to hear the name of the baby before he or she was christened. — T F
2) In China names are believed to reflect the character of a person. — T F
3) In China many girls are given names that reflect strength and good health. — T F
4) In the US and the UK people do not usually use their middle names. — T F
5) Since the 1950s, video and computer games have been the most effective medium for creating new name fashions. — T F
6) Victoria comes from a Latin word ‘victoria’ meaning ‘divine’. — T F
7) Some names become very popular, but then they disappear and never come back again. — T F
2. Complete each sentence (A-H) with one of the endings (1-8): A. Some Australian Aborigines keep their name a secret and always use a nickname as they believe that if
B. In some countries, name choices
C. It is common in the US and the UK for people to
D. Many parents are pulling ideas from
E. Other people call their kids after
F. Some people believe that a name can
G. Psychologists say that common names elicit positive reactions, while unusual names
H. Like everything else, names
1. have one or more middle names.
2. mold a child’s personality, give strength, wealth or wisdom.
3. bring negative responses.
4. someone finds out their name, they will have control over them.
5. come in and out of fashion.
6. books, magazines and Web sites.
7. are regulated by the government.
8. fictional characters, pop stars or film actors.

3. Give the definitions of the following words — Christian name
— middle name
— family name/surname
— nickname
4. Answer the questions 1) Why do people give names to each other?
2) Why do parents find it very difficult to choose names for their children?
3) Why do people choose names with meanings?
4) Why is choosing a baby’s name a very important decision?
5) Do you agree that ‘when you pick the right name, you are giving your child a head start’? Why?
6) What do you think about unusual names? Is it difficult for children to live with such names?
7) What names are popular in your country now?
8) Do you believe that a person’s name influences his or her destiny? Why?

5. Do you know the meaning and the origin of your name? Find some information about your name I am Svetlana. My name is of Slavic origin and its meaning is ‘light, holy’. The book on Russian names says that Svetlana has a high opinion of herself and an inclination to order people about. She is kind, industrious and unselfish and she easily trusts people. She cares much about her appearance and follows fashion but sometimes she doesn’t know where to stop. Svetlana can easily change her job and become more sociable and compliant. She can adapt to new surroundings. Svetlana has some difficulties in communicating with other women, that’s why she prefers male company. She is deeply attached to her family and can become a model housewife. I don’t fully agree with the description given in the book as 1 have a sense of proportion and I don’t easily adapt to new surroundings. But on the whole the characterization is rather exact and I begin to believe in the mysterious connection between a name and a person’s character.
Choose any topic you like and make up a short composition on it. 1. Baby-naming in other countries.
2. Bizarre names.
3. Your name is a part of your image.
4. Some interesting facts about names.

A. What are names? Are they just simple labels or do they contain some information about a person’s life and character? Let’s find out what the names of some famous people mean. Can you find any connection between the names of these people and their destiny?
Name Meaning
Robbie Williams ‘Bright fame’
Prince William ‘Will, desire + helmet, protection’
Prince Harry ‘Home ruler’
Keira Knightley ‘Dark’
Albert Einstein ‘Noble and famous’

Charles Dickens ‘Free man’
George Washington ‘Earth worker’
David Beckham ‘Beloved’
Marilyn Monroe ‘Uncertain’,’bitter’

Christina Aguilera ‘Follower of Christ’
B. Read the text ‘What Do You Know about Names’ and say what new information you have learnt about names.

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What Do You Know about Names?