What’s not in a name!

What’s not in a name!


The Bard gave his clarion call through Romeo’s Juliet, “What’s in a name? That which we call a rose by any other name would smell as sweet.”

Unfortunately, everything is in a name in our filial world because of the way we perceive things.

For instance, in 1980, the name Katrina (which means ‘pure’) was a popular female baby name in the US, but its popularity dipped 25 years later, after the deadly hurricane hit the East Coast.

Indeed, naming a baby, business or blog is a big deal, and a lot of thought goes into the same. My friend’s daughter Lakshmi is married to an Austrian and lives in Europe. She became the mother of a bonny girl, whom they decided to call Leila. Generally, it’s a tradition in the West to choose grandma’s name as the middle name for a baby girl. We waited with bated breath to see if Lakshmi would choose her mother-in-law’s name, Anne Marie, or her mom’s name, Poornima, as Leila’s middle name. The smart girl neatly combined the two matronymic names and came up with Leila Annapoorna, conquering both the East and the West.

During one of my trips to Chennai, I came across the name board declaring ‘Kola Pasi’ (murderous hunger). The prosaic name says it all, no price for guessing what’s on offer. This is not the case with some other names. A walk around the New BEL Road in north Bengaluru, a commercial hub, offers opportunities aplenty as food for thought. Among the multitudes of restaurants, bars, clothing stores, handbags outlets, electronics accessories shop and sports den, if you are looking for a book shop, barring Just Books, which is a lending library, there is none. I came upon an ornate board — ‘Chapter One’. It piqued my interest. At last, a book shop with an apt name to boot has come up in the area. Alas, it turned out to be a ‘bar & restaurant’.

Similarly, there are quite a few store names that quiz your mind about their utilitarian value.

Take the case of Drunken Monkey. One would think its patrons would be hardcore drunkards, but it turns out to be a juice bar... the intoxication stops with the name.

The name Dominic’s Fear makes one wonder what the devil would beget you if you stepped in. For many people of my generation, it’s indeed a fearful place — a tattoo studio. Other intriguing names of their counterparts are Vedic Trends and Eternal Expression.

On the other hand, when I spotted the shop fronts with name boards like Ink Addicts, Skin Pricks, 1mm Deep, there was no confusion about what they offer.

The other day, I came across a channel on the internet called FilterCopy. The website boasts of freshly brewed short videos of shareable ideas. For example, confusing things girlfriends say, or annoying things boyfriends do. Suffice to say we get the flavour!

Cognitive psychology presents a term known as ‘the cocktail party effect’. The basic idea is, in a cocktail party among hundreds of people, when someone mentions your name at the other end of the room, you’ll hear it. Even in a noisy room, the name rises up, floats across the room and reaches the owner’s ears. This is due to the ability of the brain to focus on a particular stimulus, namely one’s own name.

In King Solomon’s words, “A good name is rather to be chosen than riches.”

We are lucky that the love for naming things transcends borders. The world certainly is richer with names like Nile, Gardenia, Amazon, Florence, Flamingo, Himalayas. You name it!