Wednesday, August 8, 2018

What’s It All Mean? A study of words part 3 by Toi Thomas

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Have you ever heard someone say, “That’s a good strong name?” That's what I think when I hear the name, "George". My question is why? What makes a name good or bad? Does a person’s name affect who they are or the life they will live? Today, in part 3 of my series on words and their meanings, I’ll be focusing on the impressions, usually the first, people have when hearing someone’s name. See parts one and two of this series here.

The word of the day is "impression".

What kind of impression do you get when you hear the name Chester? How about Lolita, Jane, or Bob. Let’s take it a step further and consider names like Martha Stewart and Tyler Perry. Each of these names comes with an initial impression, but do these impressions reflect the people carrying the names?

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Martha Stewart and Tyler Perry are celebrities who’ve turned their names into brands. When you hear these names, you automatically envision their brand, their world, their products. Does that mean that no one else can have these names or does it mean that anyone else with these names are stuck trying to live up to expectations of domestic goddessness (yeah, I know that’s not a word) or cinematic comedic-gold?

Now, let’s consider the name Chester. I’ll admit that when I hear this name I think: sly, sleazy, trickster, and sometimes even nasty. But how fair is that assessment? Are all the Chester’s of the world guys you have to keep your eye on? Does Lolita have to be a vixen? Maybe she’s just petite and doesn’t like to be called Lola. And who says Jane is so plain? Oh, and “What about Bob?”… Lol, I couldn’t resist đŸ˜†. (It’s okay if you don’t get that reference.)

I think maybe the impressions we feel from hearing many names are based on stereotypes we’ve been exposed to for a large portion of our lives. Plus, depending on where you live in the world, the names and impressions may be completely different. Jesus (hey - suse) is a common Hispanic name, but many Anglo English-speaking people still seem a bit confused about this guy with the same name as the Christian savior.  Jesus and Jesus Cristo are not the same person.

Wikipedia
Even I recently made a comment that a relative was often referred to as Mr. Magoo, to associate him with the kindhearted, sometimes dimwitted, and legally blind cartoon character. For us, making this association was harmless, but I wonder how often do people allow these initial impressions and associations to cause harm? What if there is a man named Mr. Magoo out there who’s tired of people trying to help him cross the road because he’s perfectly able to do it all by himself.

Today’s post was recently inspired and a bit out of line with my plan for this series, but I think it still works. Next time I’ll be back to talking more about the complexities of the English language.

Can you think of any names that make an immediate impression, positive or negative, when you hear it?
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My next post in this series will be August 22 but come back on August 11 to see another animal story from Loki.

Interested in another faulty impression story? Read why Hercules’s life wasn’t all victory and praises at: Hercules: Hero and Victim. Part 2
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Find out more about me, my work, and my inspiration at the following links:

Amazon | Goodreads The ToiBox of Words | YouTube | See a list of my other posts here.

#wordsmatter, #ILoveWords, #namesake
COMMENTS



Tricia Drammeh

5 months ago  -  Shared publicly
Don't miss the latest addition to Toi Thomas's series on Words and the power they hold on #OurAuthorGang  
 
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Ruth de Jauregui via Google+

5 months ago  -  Shared publicly
Toinette Thomas shares the connotations associated with names and their importance to the bearer. Great post, stop by #OurAuthorGang and check it out!
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Ruth de Jauregui

5 months ago  -  Shared publicly
Fantastic post Toi! Names are important and yes, there's so many connotations to certain names.

(Let's not talk about the annoying joking about names -- I don't like the candy bar or baseball...)
 
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Rebecca Tran via Google+

5 months ago  -  Shared publicly
Great point Toi. I think all writers use this to our advantage when we name characters. If they don’t then they should.
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Rebecca Tran via Google+

5 months ago  -  Shared publicly
What’s in a name? Toi Thomas explains on #OurAuthorGang
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Joanne Jaytanie

5 months ago  -  Shared publicly
Another great word. Looking forward to next time.
 
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Joe Bonadonna via Google+

5 months ago  -  Shared publicly
#OurAuthorGang today is another great article by Toinette Thomas on What's It all Mean) -- the latest installment of her series on the meaning of word.
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Joe Bonadonna

5 months ago  -  Shared publicly
This is a fun and informative series, Toi. Keep it going -- I love stuff like this!
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Thanks. I'm glad you like this stuff. I sometimes wonder if it's just me who thinks this way.

+Toi Thomas -- oh, long ago I learned the importance of picking the right name for a character, using its meaning to see how well it fit a character. I also make up a lot of words for names of things by combining parts of two or more real words, using "pidgin" Latin for some other words, and just doing research to choose the right word for narrative and or descriptive passages.

+Joe Bonadonna That's awesome.
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Chris Weigand via Google+

5 months ago  -  Shared publicly
What impressions do we get from Names by Toi Thomas
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Chris Weigand

5 months ago  -  Shared publicly
Interesting post. Thanks for sharing.
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Glad you like it.



Nikki McDonagh

5 months ago  -  Shared publicly
Great post Toi. Yes, names do evoke feelings and the like. That's why it's important to choose the right ones for your characters.
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I agree. Sometimes a name just comes to me, but usually I have to put a lot of thought into it.



Grace Au

5 months ago  -  Shared publicly
Wonderful post, Toi! Love words and so many different visions and meanings to all of them! Your words series is great, really enjoying it!
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Toi Thomas via Google+

5 months ago  -  Shared publicly
Today, I ask the question, "What first impression do have when hearing these names?" #OurAuthorGang
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Erika M Szabo via Google+

5 months ago  -  Shared publicly
What is your first impression when you hear a name? Great post by Toi Thomas
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When I hear the name Erika I think of my husband. His name is Eric and he's a very laid back person. I feel like all Erics are laid back, which I know is a generalization. Never considered whether Erikas are also laid back.

+Toi Thomas That's funny you mentioned laid back :) A friend described me once: "When I look at you, I see a calm, collected, and goal oriented person. But I know that beyond the exterior your mind is working way over the speed limit." Maybe this applies to your Eric as well :)
 
+Erika M Szabo You know what; I think it does apply.
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Erika M Szabo

5 months ago  -  Shared publicly
 
Great post Toi! It's so true that when we hear a name we automatically connect it with a memory. For example, when someone mentions the name Gedeon, my mental picture is a spiffy goose from my childhood's favorite book. Of course it doesn't mean that every Gedeon I meet is a snappy dresser.