Monday, April 14, 2008

Just a Name

In Chinese, naming people are fairly easy. If it’s a girl’s name, chances are there’ll be a character that means quiet/ pleasing/ pretty/ some-sort-of-“famine”- animal. If it’s a boy’s name, then patriotic/ fierce/ smart/ successful/ rich/ bright/ some-sort-of-“masculine”-animal. Sexist, I know, but hell, at least it’s usually easy to differentiate between male and female names, and what the parents wished for the kid (unless they’re named after a scenic view or vegetation). When in doubt, name your boy “Love (your) Country” and your girl “Pleasing (to) Husband” or “Call (forth a younger) Brother”. (I’m not making this shit up. Those were pretty popular names.)

Names written in English, on the other hand, doesn’t necessarily mean it's an American/English name. It can be Italian, it can be Polish, it can be Spanish. It drives me nuts.

Usually I get away with just throwing my characters New Testament names, but when I stray from the Bible, things start to make less sense. I don’t know why three of the archangels’ names--Michael, Gabriel, and Rachael--are pretty popular, but hardly anyone is named after Uriel. Although, when I name someone Raphael, people usually respond “oh, like Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtle!”

I’ve given male names to my female characters, female names to my male characters (still can’t believe Brooke is a girl’s name). More than often I just grab the nearest book or magazine that has multiple contributors and pick something that I can pronounce. I’ve used up my old high school contact list by now. The one time I named two of my characters Luc and Nicolai after old work interns Lucas and Nicolas, Cake Man pointed out I turn them Russian. How??

I also just realized that the girl in my new script probably can’t be called Christina since she lives in an alternate/ fantasy universe where there’re multiple deities.

And last names? Bane of my existence.

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