What’s In A Name? (Apart From Occassional Confusion)

Have you ever thought about your own name?  I mean really considered what it means and why you were landed with it in the first place???

This thought came to me as I was sitting in a “Carols by Candlelight” service at my church – it was the two readings which tell Mary and Joseph what the baby is going to be called which sparked it off.

As you may have noticed – my first name of “Ineke” isn’t exactly English in origin.  (My middle name and surname may appear to be more likely English but I don’t think either of them are.)

My middle name of “Caroline” is apparently from Midaevel Latin.  My surname of “Poultney” is either Anglo-Saxon or French.

I never use the original Dutch pronunciation of Ineke in the UK (English-speakers seem to have enough difficulty with the Anglicised version I use already).  In fact, my Dad is the only English-speaking human I actually allow to use the original pronunciation – there again – he did choose it.

The funny thing is that if you rearrange the letters slightly you will come up with an unusual spelling of my favourite nickname “Inkee” (otherwise known as “Inky”).  That nickname came about as a result of me getting covered in ink everytime I tried to write something at school.

I actually find it amusing that I answer to two words in the Oxford English Dictionary – Ink and Inky – even if it has confused people on occassion.

There is one good side to having an unusual name which is not like anything that most English-speakers have ever come across before – people can get the spelling wrong and the pronunciation wrong but they cannot cause potential embarrassment to me or themselves as a result.  Unlike what happened to my Mum.

My Mum had a lovely name (I didn’t like the abbreviation she used most often very much – and I hated the abbreviation her Dutch friends and family used with a passion you can only dream of).  Known to most humans as “Coby” (and to her Dutch friends and family as “Co”) – my Mum’s first name was actually “Jacoba” – the oldfashioned Dutch female version of “Jacob” – (Pronounced Ya-coba).  That last “a” is a very important letter – as a hospital in Leicester found out when they were convinced that they were going to have an inpatient called “Jacob” Poultney and made arrangements for the patient to be admitted to a man’s ward.  They apparently took some convincing that they were actually expecting my Mum.

My Mum’s family is crammed with names that make me have to think twice when they come up in conversation.  However, I must admit to being jealous of one of my cousins who somehow got a name that could actually be used in both the UK and The Netherlands and it would be almost the same.  The English sometimes spell “Martin” with a “y” in place of the “i”.  This particular cousin is called “Martijn” (pronounced “Mar-tyne” to rhyme with the river the Northern Newcastle sits on) – turn the “ij” into a “y” and you come out with the English “Martyn”.

It is funny how people never actually consider their own names.  It is even stranger how some parents think they are doing their children a favour by giving them names which are spelled in a very unusual way.  That is even without the benefit of having the excuse (as my Mum had) of not having English as a first language.

As you can probably imagine – my favourite names are the ones which are really simple.

My favourite names for a boy are;

Chris, Steve, Wilco, Duncan, William, Richard

My favourite names for a girl are;

Ann, Clare, Sarah, Amy, Joan, Jean.

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