Monday, May 28, 2018

Natural first names

Naming children is one of the basic, loving acts of parents.  The source of the name can vary from person to person and country to country.  Nature, on a selective basis, is one of these sources.

Flowers are apparently universal.  In English, relatively common flowery names include Camelia, Lilly, Rose, Heather, Jasmine and Iris, to name a few.  Granted, there are some Petunias, Hollies, and Daisies. Israeli parents use many of these names too.  You can find girls named Vered (rose), Iris, Yasmin, Dalia, Rakefet (cyclamen), among others.

Yet, there are some differences in naming habits between English and Hebrew speaking parents. Anglo-Saxons have no problem with some basis herbs, such as Basil or Rosemary.  Yet, trees are taboo, except for maybe Hazel, which is more nut than tree inspired. By contrast, Israelis love trees as a source of names. To name but a few, there is no problem to find an Oren, (pine), Erez (cedar), Ela (terebinth), Hadas (myrtle), Dolev (plane tree), Shaked (almond), or Tamar (palm).  Israelis are even open to a grain, Shibolet (wheat flower), while the English-speaking world prefers to leave them on the table.

On one hand, this English prejudice against tree seems unjustified. A boy strong as elm or cedar or a girl as sweet as a palm or perfect like an almond would be a blessing.  On the other hand, I would not wish Redwood, as magnificent as it is, on my child.  I would not want him to have peeling skin and become so wide that car could drive between his legs, not to mention to live hundreds of years. So, as naming goes, it is often better to go with the more pedestrian among them, especially flowers.

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