Emem Neophytos Ameretat Korbinian Sissinnguaq


reflect on this year and manifest what’s next

New Name. Let’s meet again, for the first time. If you could introduce yourself to strangers by another name for just one day, what would it be and why?

Saint Barbara

I’ve never really liked my name. As a little girl, my family called me Barbie. They were thinking cute. However, I realized by 4th grade that this was completely offensive and insulting on a number of levels. First of all, I wasn’t blond, air-headed, or a bimbo, thank you very much.

So when 5th grade started, I decided to change my name to B.J., for my first two initials. That brought on a little snickering here and there, but at least it stopped the Barbie label for those outside my family. Long lost relatives and friends of the family had a harder time giving it up, but I wasn’t shy about expressing my visceral disgust at the name if they even innocently let it pass their lips.

After 5th grade, I reverted to Barb. It was boring and old-fashioned sounding, but tolerable. I’ve always wished, however, that I had been given a unique name. Barbara’s not the most common name of my generation, but it’s common enough (I didn’t know that it’s been a masculine name choice as well, peaking in 1938). In fact, although it wasn’t too popular by 1970, it was in the top 5 U.S. names for girls in the 30s, 40s, & 50s. I’ve never understood why my parents picked three typical names for their children, but maybe it’s because they were names they had heard a lot growing up. My mom had a fairly common name, but my Dad had a highly unusual name (for his century, at least). I wonder which one of them had more influence choosing the names? I remember mom, who worked for the school district, complaining sometimes about the names parents chose for their children and how the kids should not have to be teased in school because their parents gave them a weird name. So it was probably her.

As a result of my boring name angst, I decided early on that I would name my children very uniquely, and started keeping name lists in my journals. If only I knew where those journals were, I would share a few of those gems with you. But since I do not, I’m forced to poke around at places like http://www.behindthename.com, the etymology and history of first names. I love discovering word origins [geek].

Alas, my step-kids came pre-named (two with common names, one with a pretty unique name), and I’ve only had the opportunity to name a series of animal friends. Connecticut (girl), Queequeg (girl), Tundra (girl), Pip (girl), Algernon (boy), Nevermore (girl), Tamias (boy), Isis (girl), Deimos (boy), and Archimedes, Arcturus, & Hera (foster kittens)—and those are only the ones whose names we changed. How’d we do?

All this is really not bringing me to an idea for a new name. How about a name borrowed from some of my favorite species; Corvus Crazicus, Loxodonta, Acinonyx, Archaeopteryx (or Urvogel), anyone? Or this Native American name suggested by behindthename.com: Sissinnguaq, meaning squirrel in Greenlandic. Or Ameretat, the name of a Zoroastrian goddess of plants and long life. Neophytos, Ancient Greek, meaning newly planted (even if it is a boy’s name). I like the simplicity of the African Emem, meaning “peace” in Ibibio. And Korbinian is derived from Latin corvus meaning “raven.” That’s it, for one day only, I’d like you to call me Emem Neophytos Ameretat Korbinian Sissinnguaq.

6 responses

  1. Yuk, your name for a day????????????/ Well, since we lived on he Chippewa -Leech Lake Indian Reservation when you were born, we could have named you–Manypenny(your Mom’s friend), Halfpenny, Long Sam(my friend Ellie Underwood’s wife) , Butterfly, Headfeather, Whitefeather, Brown, White, prickley pear, silver leaf, Windymiere, etc. One of our friends(Indian) was named Barbara-a very wonderful well thought out name. . Barbara was and is a very strong and well respected name. Just like Merton became Mertie(it stuck with me even to this day). Your name had NOTHING to do with you being “barbie” the doll with the blond hair and all–I can’t even remember if they had Barbie dolls in those days. It should be an honor to be called Barbie since that for many is terms of endearment and so many people loved and still love you. It is odd that most \people think like you do–they wish they had a different name when they mature to older years.. We thought Barbara Jean was an almost perfect name for out wonderful daughter. Be blessed with your name. You are unique and wonderfully made, your Mom and Dad were fiercely proud of you–as anyone who knew us would verify. Love, Dad and Merry Christmas. Arizona needs you for a visit.

    • Dad, you picked out a lovely name. I just happen to have always wanted a unique name. Probably if I’d been given a strange name that was difficult to pronounce or spell, I would have longed for a more normal one. Just like I wanted bright red curly hair and green eyes. It wasn’t good enough to have hair that turned very reddish in the summer, hazel eyes that look sometimes brown, sometimes, green, and a bit of wave in the back of my hair – it wasn’t subtle I was after.

      I’ve rarely ever met anybody my own age named Barbara, but I’ve met many women 15-20 years older than me with that name. So that’s why it’s always sounded a little old-fashioned.

      As for Barbie, I’m sure the doll had nothing to do with you naming me. And I did play with plenty of Barbies as a kid (I was always searching the thrift stores for brunette heads, though). But as I grew up, I became acutely aware of what Barbie the doll represented and I know it had something to do with my dislike of the name. To me, It represented not being taken seriously. What I didn’t mention in the blog post is that I’ve mellowed out a lot and now I’m not really bothered by people teasing me with the nickname.

      Did you really know somebody named Prickley Pear?

  2. Barb, for what it’s worth, we may have called you Barbie teasingly or affectionately, but I don’t remember ever thinking of you as a brunette version of a Barbie doll. Also, I have been called Marty forever, except for a couple people who insisted on calling me Martin. Smartie Martie, etc. was common enough to hear. Be proud of your name!

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