Category: name impressions
QUESTION OF THE WEEK: Does a different spelling alter the image of a name?
We’re not talking about kreeatif spellings here, but standard variations. For example:
• Would Ann of Green Gables have seemed like a slightly different character? (She passionately advocated for the e at the end of her name, claiming it made it “so much more distinguished.”)
• Do you see Catherine as more classic than Katherine?
• Is Isobel more exotic than Isabel?
• Aiden more modern or American than Aidan?
• Elisabeth softer than Elizabeth?
• How about Susanna vs Susannah, Margo vs Margot, Mae vs May?
Any other examples you can think of where different spellings alter your perception of a name?
Question of the Week: How much does a person’s name affect your opinion of them?
Do you get a mental image of people before meeting them, setting up positive or negative expectations because they have a name you like–or don’t?? Ever turn down a blind date because of his/her name? Could you imagine yourself married to an Egbert or a Hortense?
On the other hand, does having a beautiful name add something special to a person’s appeal (as it does for me with my British friend Araminta)?
Has knowing a person changed your image of their name?
Do you judge people by what they’ve named their children—even a little bit– and even though you know you shouldn’t?
To guest blogger Kaitlin (Greyer) and others who share her synesthesia, every name has a distinctive color, shape and texture; a fascinating condition she describes for us here.
It seemed an unlikely place for this to happen.
As I recall, I was fifteen years old – sitting in the booth of a local Burger King with my mother as we picked at our burgers and fries, too hot to really eat anything; it was mid-June or July. I had just begun to dabble in my name obsessions, collecting baby name books when I could find them cheap and carefully recording list after list in blank notebooks. It was no surprise to my mother, then, that the unique name of the clerk – Turquoise – had caught my eye. The sound of this name sent a jolt of crimson color straight to my brain. As we sat in the back of the store, talking quietly, I turned to my mother and said:
“Mom, do you ever, like, see a color in your head when you hear a word or a name?”
She paused. Then: “Yes,” she said. “I named you Kaitlin because it’s bright yellow and it makes me think of sunshine. It’s a happy color; I wanted you to be happy.”
“But Kaitlin isn’t yellow,” protested my fifteen-year-old self. “It’s pale lavender and grey, the color of a pearl.” She nodded. “I guess our colors are different.”
This is how it began. We started with her name, my name, the names of my father, grandmother, grandfather, aunts, uncles, and cousins, comparing our respective colors for each. Mom told me about the colors of her current favorite names and the colors of the names she’d considered for me. It developed into a special connection between us, as well as a sort of game: whenever we checked out at a department store or restaurant, we would make special note of the name tag of the person waiting on us. As soon as they were out of earshot, we’d each blurt out a color. “Jane” was chartreuse or eggplant, “Michael” pumpkin or scarlet. Gradually, we discovered that her colors were just that – colors, as though suspended in water or hanging in the air. My colors, on the other hand, had depth. I have a sense of whether a name moves left or right, up or down in my head, or whether it is static. If the name has a dimension, I can describe that, too: some names, like Ella, are two-dimensional, a sheet of colored paper. Others, such as Oliver, are domed; some are even complete spheres. Most names have a texture, often best compared to fabrics, but Christopher is smooth and shiny like the skin of a fruit, and Lydia is sandy and cratered, akin to the face of the moon.