There is so much in a name
We all have heard Shakespeare’s Quote when we stress about someone’s name.
There was a deep reason why the above was said in the epic Romeo and Juliet. It was Juliet’s deep sorrow for not getting who she loved because of a family name.
What is a name and why do we name human beings?
Name is an identifier given to someone to recognize a person in a limited context of people with who you usually interact.
Our name impacts us in our day-to-day life and its importance is not to be ignored. We associate names to various emotions, events, religions, and many more. It is the key in our brain to a person’s memories and our association with that person. We name our kids based on our emotions, sometimes correlated with their siblings. We sometimes forget that once they are on their own, they will be in their own independent world. Our emotions on keeping that name are irrelevant at that point. I am no exception in doing the same and still wonder if I did the right thing.
Our brain works in a very efficient way that it caches many shortcuts which we call bias. That is a normal way the brain works so it spends less energy.
So a name that is not popular like Hitler immediately brings bad memories from history, some good names like rose bring in the good smell you had when you smelled a rose. These happen in your subconscious mind without your explicit permission.
There are some names which become famous because of many reasons and we tend to laugh at people who have the same name. We do this all the time and we still tend to ignore the fact of how important a name is.
One day my boss, myself, and some colleagues did a brainstorming. The brainstorming was for selecting a name. We brainstormed the whole day for the right name. I heard the importance of syllables that day and how it makes such a big difference when we use it over and over. How the names should be short and be like 2 syllables.
I have pondered about this since and when I was naming my son, something I thought a lot about.
Let’s do some quick math between a two-syllable word and a three-syllable word. These are just calculations to give a very high-level idea of the impact of a name. For simplicity, let's say a two-syllable word takes 1 second and a three-syllable word takes 2 seconds to prononce.
We may say our name 100 times a day. Our close 30 friends and family may say our name 10 times a day. Our acquaintances may say our name 1000 times in their lifetime and we have around 1000 acquaintances.
That means using 2 syllable names, we spend 608 days, our close friends spend 1825 days, acquaintances around 277 days. That’s like 7.4 years.
That means a 3 syllable name will spend extra 7.4 years of human time.
My native language Malayalam is notorious for complicated words and tongue twisters. Imagine the amount of time that would be wasted on a long tongue-twisting name?
All these are ignoring time of writing a name, time someone takes to understand that name.
The brain being efficient, does try to ignore people with multiple syllables. For example in any setting, if we call out few names of a team, we tend to ignore some names that are long and we just say whose it is easier to say.
My dad used to believe the names should be religion-neutral and named us so. I think that was a great thought for that time and he saw a future where religions become more than what they should be.
I think it is very important we try to name our kids simple, easy, and pleasant to say. If we use a common name with positive feelings with it, even better. I know any name meaning can change to a different meaning over a viral event but that's the best you can do. It is very important we consider the syllables and we go with 2 syllables if we can.
Maybe Shakespeare’s quote was taken out of context.
After all, there is so much in a name…