Wednesday, October 9, 2013

Fun with names

For the past few days I’ve been tweaking (not twerking) my lecture on language for my classes next week, specifically the topic of names. Everyone can relate to exploring a name, or names in general, by thinking about them as words.

While browsing the library last week, I found a book titled “The Name Game, a Look Behind the Labels,” by Donna M. Jackson, illustrated by Ted Stearn, Viking, 2009.  As you might have guessed, the book is geared toward young readers, but makes the exploration into names fun for everyone.

I learned that words with the suffix “nym” or “onym,” originate from the Greek word onoma, which means name. It can refer to a specific type of name, or describe the relationship between words or names.

Some examples include:

Mononym: a one-word name, such as Rihanna.

Autonym: a person’s real name, as opposed to his or her pseudonym. Samuel Langhorne Clemens is the autonym. Mark Twain is the pseudonym.

Aptronym: a name suited to its owner’s occupation or interests, such as oceanographer Dr. Fish, or ophthalmologist Dr. See.

Eponym: Something named for a person, like Pike’s Peak, after Zebulon Pike, Jr.

Synonym: Words with the same or similar meanings: “Happy” is a synonym of “Cheerful.”

So the next time you are naming characters, places or other objects in your fiction, take time to think about the name you use. Names matter.

Write soon,