As I am teaching mostly second-year students this semester I did not expect to have as rich a harvest of English names as I did last year. Assuming, I suppose, that the second-year students have grown in wisdom and no longer wish to stick with the English name of “Lazy.”
I am happy to report that I was in error. Second-year students choose equally strange and bizarre names. Hooray.
First up, we have lots of a mixed bag of cultural and literary references, some recent and others quite ancient: Dante, Sheldon, Pink, Jack Sparrow, Simba, Nemo (Captain Nemo or Finding Nemo?), Liszt, Moriarty, Byron, Ares, Ophelia, Cassanova, Regan, and Winehouse.
Winehouse startled me a little as I read the attendance sheet. I understand the reference, but it seems a bit like calling yourself “Drugstore.”
Second we have the progressive verbs and/or gerunds: Singing, Living, Sunning, and Laughing.
One of my favorite students from last semester was Playing. When I asked her about her English name, she told me that it sounds similar to her actual Chinese name: He Pei Ling. So I assume that this is the cause of so many “progressive” students.
We have food items: Hamburger, Yogurt, Carrot and Beef. I’m low on fruit this semester. Mostly just a few “Cherry” girls.
Still English, but not really names: Boon, Thumb, Torch, Chaos, Air, Robot, Monster, Poem, Suit, Vino, Nature, and Spark. Particular favorites are Morale (did she mean moral?), Winsome (love the mental image I get for that), and Handsome Boy.
Unfortunately Handsome Boy couldn’t take the twittering of his classmates. He caved under social pressure and changed to a more conventional English name.
A few recognizable brands: Sony and Polo (Ralph Lauren, I assume.)
Then we get into the strange stuff. English names that are not English names. For example, Asmile, Rocchan Woo, Ultraman, Yentok, Titor, Levana, Surwing, Lewer, Linka, Rigge, U-Know, Fandy, Amin, Loren, Cancy, Vane, Germin, Odelia, Sweeda, Zelia, Witsan, Yucca, Cubid, Roki, Manx, Shmily, Caron, Freel, Hares, Zegina, Katthew, Keroro, Eason, Tsetina, Java, Hava, Kava, Eassery, Calbee, Sinnya, Neeve, Yetta, Ria, Chera, and Kama.
I’m not sure sometimes if they are making these up or if they are references I don’t know. Sometimes these students are very insistent about how I pronounce these “English names.” To which I want to protest their non-English-ness.
Favorites are ones that could almost be a normal name, but they’ve changed a letter. Like Fandy (Mandy?) and Katthew (Matthew?). Oh, and Klever. I like that one. Did she mean ‘clever,’ or perhaps ‘cleaver?’ Smart girl or Dexter-accomplice. Embrace the mystery.
There’s also Famanda and . . . . Jennify. I love Jennify. Perhaps because my sister is named Jennifer. It’s like instead of electrifying something, you Jennify it. Fantastic.
I do have a Christ. Yes. Christ. The student doesn’t seem to feel there’s anything unusual in this choice, so I’m going to let it slide.
And finally I have a student names Hores. This name causes particular mirth for me due to a favorite passage from Master and Commander, by Patrick O’Brian.
Captain Jack Aubrey talking to one of the young midshipmen:
“Mr. Babbington,” he said, suddenly stopping in his up and down. “Take your hands out of your pockets. When did you last write home?” Mr. Babbington was at an age when almost any question evokes a guilty response, and this was, in fact, a valid accusation. He reddened, and said, “I don’t know, sir.” “Think, sir, think,” said Jack, his good-tempered face clouding unexpectedly… “Never mind. Write a handsome letter. Two pages at least. And send it in to me with your daily working tomorrow. Give your father my compliments and tell him my bankers are Hoares.” For Jack, like most other captains, managed the youngsters’ parental allowance for them. “Hoares,” he repeatedly once or twice, “my bankers are Hoares,” and a strangled ugly corwing noise make him turn. Young Ricketts was clinging to the fall of the main burton-tackle in an attempt to control himself, but without much success.
Ah, English names! A great institution! They’ll never know how much amusement we get from them. What? You have a question, Cassanova?