Sunday, October 7, 2012


One of the most recent books that I finished reading is Indian Captive by Lois Lensky.

I really like this book.  I have always liked historical fiction, and I have always been fascinated by the life of the Native Americans.  This book is definitely an easy read and also definitely written for a younger audience.  I have read other books about Mary Jemison, the pioneer child that the book is about, and this one leaves out some of the things that happened, but then again, this book also only deals with her younger years with the Seneca Indians, and she actually ended up staying with the Indians for her whole life.

Anyway, this book with all of its Indian names got me to thinking about names.  Why we name our kids what we do and why they named their kids what they did.

Many of us name our kids even before they are born.  We have a name picked out for the babies so as soon as they are born, and sometimes even before they are born, we call them by this name.  Research has show that a lot of people actually grow into their names with people bearing certain names excelling in certain professions.

(As an aside, I find it interesting that a lot of people are hesitant to reveal a baby's name before it is born.  I wonder why that is.  I mean, we kind of do that, too, but why?  Perhaps it's because we don't really want any comments on the name.  Let's say I want to name my kid Harold, and you think that's a bad name.  If I tell you before he is born, you may say to me, don't do that to your kid! and then I will feel that I have to defend that name.  But after he's born, and it's his name, what are you going to say?  Horrible name!  Go change it!)

Of course, way back in the day, people were given their last names according to what they did...cook, baker, smith...and the first name was often passed down from the mother or father and then a nick name was given to differentiate between generations.  Like in this book, the girl's name is Mary, but they call her Molly because there were so many Marys in her family.   Due to the high infant mortality rate, there were often several sons in the family with the same name to be sure that the father's name was carried on even if some of the boys died young.    (Disclaimer here:  I did no formal research whatsoever.  This is just what I have learned from reading.)

So, as a quick run down, Elizabeth is my middle name and my great grandmother's name on my mother's side.  Elizabeth's middles name, Andreina (An-dre-ina, short a, short e, long i, short a) is a really cool name.  We were going to put it as her first name, but were concerned about the butchering of the spelling and pronunciation, so we put it as her middle so that she could choose to use it later if she wanted to.  Interesting how the spelling/pronunciation issue is a non-issue now because of all the crazy names out there, but 14 years ago, it wasn't really that way.  Joselin is just a really cool name that I heard when I was travelling and that I had not heard in the US (it's a lot more popular now).  It's pronounced Jo-se-lin.  Long o, short e, long i.  Not Jocelyn.  And of course, the nickname Jo is just really cool. Her middle name, Alexandra, is just because I really love that name.  My brother knew a Gabriel when he was in highschool and I always liked that name, so that's how he got his.  His middle name is Alexander, and I know that is not very creative after his sister is Alexandra, but it is after Jimmy's brother who passed away.  Jesse comes from my love of the book Bridge to Terebithia, which I read in 6th grade and absolutely fell in love with the main character, Jesse Aarons.  Aaron is Jesse's middle name, but not for that reason.  My brother's name is also Aaron.

I must confess that I also love words.  I like the way they look and I love the shape of letters.  (6 is my favorite number because it's just so round.  I looks like a hug or a mother holding her baby.)   So, Elizabeth has a 'z', Jo has a 'j', Gabriel has an 'x' (even though it's in his middle name, it still counts, which means Jo has double) and Jesse has both a 'j' and the double 'a'.

But those names don't have anything to do with THEM.  I mean, what is a 'Jesse' or an 'Elizabeth' (other than a queen)?

So, here's my attempt at the Indian way of naming.  (And my round about way of getting to my topic...sorry)

Gabriel is Little Acorn.  His head and hair cut just look like an acorn, so he's Little Acorn.  It just fits him.  Little. Round. Cute.  With a little cap of hair on his head. Bouncing around just doing stuff.  That's him.

So he was easy.  But what about Jo?  Well, she active, energetic and talks all the time.  So she can be Babbling Brook.  Fun.  Quick.  Clear.  Exciting.  Cute.  Always running.

And Jesse?  He's a bit harder.  I'm thinking along the lines of Hungry Bear.   But a little bear.  A cub?  But that doesn't flow as well.  And I kind of wanted to get his smile and easy going happiness in there.  Hmmm...I don't know.  Any suggestions?

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