Monday, April 17, 2006

Identity Spell Check

I'm not really sure where I'm going with this so bear with me. Ever since the doodles' conception & even before that I've thought about her name. Oh the blissful heartburn-filled heydays of pregnancy when we were trying to decide on names by looking at books, researching my ancestry & his (pre-Newfoundland heritage) & playing with baby name wizards. There were popular names, old-fashioned ones, celebrity babies, made-up names & the (Pornwadee?) just bizarre. I lurked on the fertility & pregnancy boards trying to get a glimmer of insight into how people chose names & what they all liked. How cruel some of the commenters were, spewing their vitriol in anonymous fashion but always couching their nasty comments with phrases like "IMHO" (in my honest opinion - what is an opinion but honest? I guess unless of course, you are lying.) or "it's not my style" or best yet, "no offence, but...". Like that's really gonna make it all better when you insult me. I never posted on these boards because for the most part I garnered all the info I wanted & didn't want by just reading & I knew my hormone raddled fragile ego couldn't take the critiques.

And so I narrowed down my list & shared it with the hubby who whittled it down even further with some surprising results. He ended up liking the odder ones a lot more than some of the regular names I provided. Odder being the Norse pantheon namesakes versus the more common kilt-wearing brogue tongue-rolling variety. Not that there isn’t tongue rolling in Icelandic – with letters like this (Ð ð,Þ þ, Æ æ & Ö ö) you know there’s got to be some oral gymnastics (oh that sounds really bad eh?). Of course I had ultimate veto but I wanted him to have input & I valued the dude’s opinion. He may be a freak but he’s also pretty smart & I gotta live with him. Besides, he teases me mercilessly so I needed to provide my baby with some protection – if I gave it a name he didn’t like, he’d have some powerful ammunition for teasing the child. My veto power lies in a trade we made. I took his last name when we got hitched on the promise that I could pick our kid’s names. Compromise.

And so Freyja it is. With a “j”. Why? Because I can. Because it seemed a more Icelandic way to spell it & since I traded in my surname (now a second middle name but that’s a whole other story) I felt I needed to honour my side of the family. Because I thought it was cool & different & hey, “j” is a fun letter. Why do parents want different when there’s the possibility of embarrassing their child? I’m not sure about this. And with an influx of odd names, funky spellings & the like there’s bound to be a backlash & so, a reversion to traditional or old-fashioned names. It all seems rather cyclical with a few minor variations. Anyway (like I said, bear with me), for the past while I’ve been concerned about that pesky “j”. It seems to screw people up & so I’m a little worried about when she gets old enough for school. Actually maybe it’s the “y” – most pronunciations end up sounding like “Free-a” rather than “Fray-a”. Its o.k. with me & I don’t correct people unless they ask. Why not? Because I spent my entire life correcting people on how to pronounce my last name & it never made a difference. One gets a bit tired of explaining how to spell or say something that to you is second nature & as a kid you really don’t know why the hell people have such trouble with it. And so now I’ve gone & done it to my kid.

There’s also this mommy label thing I’m mulling over since reading this & this. The whole idea that once someone becomes a mother others may not take you as seriously as they once did. (Who the hell ever took me seriously?) Hey it's really hard not to talk about spit-up & poop when all you have time for in your day is changing the next diaper & reading Doctor Suess instead of keeping up with the latest in politics & technology. So I don't know what to call myself & perhaps more importantly, I can’t figure out how to spell it. When I talk to baby it’s mostly in the third person. “Mommy’s gonna change your butt now.” That sort of thing. When I pronounce mommy it sounds more like mummy so I spell it that way sometimes even though I get pictures of bandaged-wrapped figures in my head when I see it written down. I prefer mum to mom because it sounds less apple-pie- Partridge Family & more, cool Brit. Not that there’s anything wrong with apple pie & I always secretly wanted to get on that funky bus & play the tambourine with the gang. Mother sounds a bit too old & whiny to me at the moment – I’ll wait until she’s a crabby teenager before going there. Or at least until I say “Because I’m your mother & I said so.”

The mom spell-check spills into the Grandparents as well. On Calvin’s side we have Grammy & Poppy. On my side there’s Grandma. Or is it Gramma? And Great-Grandma or Gramma. And Long-Amma. There’s Grandpa too but it gets a bit more confusing there since I’ve got step-dad & Dad. Grandpa Ken & Grampa? Afi? Anyway since I can’t make up my mind as to what spelling I use am I confusing my child even more? Why the hell I am asking these questions when she can’t even talk yet is beyond my feeble mind’s comprehension. It’s just all part of the general anxiety I am experiencing I think.

Then I read this post about the whole Ms./Miss./Mrs. (or rather Madame/ Mademoiselle) debate. Why do we as women have to bother checking one of three boxes instead of just one? There’s only a Mr. box for the guys that has absolutely no indication of whether or not the dude is married or single. Why do we get the choice? Is it a good thing to have these options or is it really any business of the questioner? Why do I even care? I’m not sure that I do but it made me think about why I never can decide what box to check. Then there’s the issue of getting mail addressed to Mrs. His-first-name His-last-name. I’m sure it’s just good old-fashioned etiquette but last time I checked I did have a first name of my own. It doesn’t offend me but it does drive me a little bonkers & makes me think about what my identity is.

Ack! This is getting nowhere & you (all 10 of you) must think I’ve finally lost it. Let’s just say that those deep questions I had in my twenties of who I was & what I was going to do with my life that I thought were answered are apparently not. Does it ever end?

Anyway, I think I’ll keep the “j”, & stick with Ms. The rest of the spelling will just have to work itself out.

fray-a day-a doodle-bug Posted by Picasa


maggie said...

I love the spelling of Freyja's name. It's pretty. Anyone who has trouble pronouncing it is a dumbass.


bunmaster said...

Thanks Mags. I can't stop laughing now!

Mum/Gramma said...

Hey there!

Maggie's right. Wonderful writing.
"Mum's" the word. (Gramma on casual days, Grandma on high holidays).


tracey said...

I agree that anyone who can't pronounce it is a dumbass that you don't want around your kid anyway......stupidity rubs off, believe me. And as for the Mrs.Ms.Miss crap, don't check any of the boxes - it's no one's business.

bunmaster said...

I love you Tracey! Happy Belated Birthday!

scarbie doll said...

Yo Laura,

The Dog's name is actually Jan (yawn with a J--I guess you can see that) Norwegian style. He knows first hand about the Scandinavian J. It still pisses him off when people get his name wrong or pretend to actually yawn when saying his name, but at the end of the day he's proud that his name reflects his Viking heritage.

The name Freyja kicks ass. People are dumb. It sucks that everything must get anglosized here. Jan's neice is Vibeke (VEE-be-ka) and after years of correcting people, "It's not Rebecca) she is now just Becky. I hate that. Hopefully it will teach Freyja to have a thick skin and know that she is an individual.

Connie said...

I concur with all the other comments. People are stupid. And I don't think having an easier to spell name will resolve that. And is it really our job to make life easier for stupid people? John was very adament that whatever name we pick for the kid has to be easy to spell or the mainsteam spelling, so the kid doesn't have to spell his name continuously for everyone. He's been scarred not by his first name, but by the spelling of Somerton. Which even most people in my family still spell Summerton or Sumerton or any other variation thereof. I figure if the kid has to spell his last name anyway, he might as well spell the first one while he's at it. After many years of being asked how to spell "Lush", I have come to the conclusion that the vast majority of the population are "stunner than my arse". I think Freyja is pretty and if you're going to be asked anyway how to spell your name it may as well be a pretty one.

KDF said...

When I first read your reveal of Freyja's name, I loved it! And you know, I could even figure out how to say it the proper way. Plus it will be fun for her to doodle. Write it a few times, it's fun!

People will get it, and if they don't? last name is Fish and yes, I get asked how to spell it daily. Sad, sad, sad.

bunmaster said...

Aww you guys are all so nice. It's amazing what you have to spell out for people isn't it? I thought going from Skulason to Drover would be so much easier but I still have to spell it out. Go figure.

bunmaster said...

KDF - are you possibly the same KDF from Wedding Bells? If so hi! I hardly ever go there anymore.

KDF said...

Yep, that's me! I saw you on WB ages ago and remembered you from the photo shoot. Then I saw you had a blog and started reading a bit ago and am thrilled to hear about Freyja.

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