Monday, July 15, 2013

What is in a Name?

This week last week I went to visit my grandparents who live in Amish country. I was able to eat numerous meals and play card games with the Amish as well as learn more of their culture. One thing that I can not help but remark on is that so many of them were named Levi. It inspired this post on two naming forms that I have recently learned and would like to tell you about.

Amish: The Amish only have a handful of first and last names. You can pretty much guess that most are either Yoder or Miller with the first name of Levi or Mary. I met one woman (Maddie Yoder) married to Levi Yoder and had a brother Levi Miller. Just in the little community that I was in, there were at least eight Levi's, two or three of them were Miller as well.

The way to tell them apart is by their middle name, which is really only a letter. This letter is always their father's first initial, so siblings always have the same middle name (letter). I find this interesting and more than a little confusing in keeping them straight.

Picture I took of an Amish buggy. Sorry, can't take pictures of the people

Man with statues of his ancestors
Roman: Just like in America, Romans had three names, it is only the order that changed. Here is an example: Julius Caesar is a name that should be recognized. Commonly, it is assumed that Julius was his first name when in reality it was his family name (our last). But Caesar was not his first name either, it was a nickname meaning curly haired (though he was bald). His full name was Gaius Julius Caesar.

Few remember that his name was Gaius because in Rome, other than your family and closest friends, one was always called by the last two names.

A first born son was always named after his father, with the preceding sons after other male relatives. Daughters were usually named after the father, with a number added to the end to indicate their order of birth. Now, I have not read this page completely, but it seems to be correct from what I did and has a section on female naming. It all makes me very glad that I was not born in Rome.

Most cultures have their own form of naming. I enjoy learning the different ways to pick names and the stories behind each. Do you have a story behind your name? I'd like to hear it.


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