[Right off the bat, let me make it very clear that I’m absolutely no authority on naming your child. As with a lot of posts, and post-titles, this is meant to be tongue-in-cheek]
Do you have a baby coming? Are you having sleepless nights thinking about that ‘perfect’ name for your child? Well, your search stops here! Read on.
1. Have some very basic criteria, or boundaries, on the CANNOT-s
a. The name cannot start with some letters of the alphabet
For us it was – A, T, U, V, W, X, Y, Z & K
Reasoning – We didn’t want Brinda to be the first to be called out, if they were going alphabetically (from A) or reverse alphabetically (from Z). So, why eliminate T to Y, you might ask? Because our research showed that a lot of names start with S, and then they kind of taper off. You might find some starting with T, but for the rest of the remaining letters, you’re leaving it on the sample size and chance. And leaving it on chance is not something we do!
But why K? Well, in my side of the family, only boys are named with K.
This search criteria automatically reduces the number of pages (real and virtual) that you have to go through to come up with a short-list. Oh, yeah! There will be a short list, and then a shorter list, and then finally the shortest list.
b. The name cannot be more than a 2-syllable word
Reasoning – A name more than 2-syllable long is not the end of the world. Having said that, a name of 2- or 1-syllable is helluva lot easier to say out loud. More so when you read about one of our absolute SHOULD-BEs, 2.(a).
c. The name, in either English, Bangla or Hindi, shouldn’t mean or sound anything slang/dirty/innuendo-ish
Reasoning – Easy enough to understand. Case in point, the name Laura. In it self, it is a darn good name. But to a native Hindi speaker (and to Indians in general who have gone to school/college – not that schools teach that stuff, but kids pick up on stuff like that) the spelling of the word corresponds to the slang for the male genitalia. Or take for example, Dipshita. Again, a very fine (Indian) name meaning ‘enlightened lamp’, but to a native English speaker, the first thing that comes to mind …yeah, that.
d. The name could not be of anyone in the family – immediate or however distant they might be
We eliminated Heidi, as it is the name of a family member from my sister-in-law’s husband’s side of the family …yeah, we went that deep!!
2. Make a list of the absolute MUST-HAVEs in the name
a. The name must be pronounced exactly the same way in both English and Bangla
Reasoning – Again, self-explanatory. More reason to stick to a 2-syllable name.
There are certain letters, or sounds, if you may, that are absent in either language and tongue.
Take, for example, the letter V. There is no corresponding letter in the Bangla alphabet. The closest is ‘bhh’ or ভ. So Vivian’s name (to a Bangla speaker who doesn’t know English) is ‘Bhhi-bhhi-an’ (ভিভিয়ান).
Or, take the letter ঝ্ (jhh). There is no corresponding letter in English. So a ঝরনা becomes a ‘Jhhorna’ which is then (mis-)pronounced as ‘Jorna’.
b. The name must mean something, preferable something good, in any language
We were not too concerned about the origin of names. We considered names from Gaelic, Nordic, Germanaic, Latin, Hebrew, Russian, Bangla, Sanskrit origin. And almost everything in between. Nothing was off-limits – only it had to mean something, and something not-bad.
c. Each of the parents come up with names (and more names)
We had a shared spread-sheet online which we updated as and when we stumbled upon a fitting name, which met most, if not all, criteria. Those names were then debated on for their ‘worthiness’, and either summarily rejected or agreed to be fit to remain on the list.
d. Do not share your short-listed names with family and close friends
They will have some kind of input, and you don’t want to be swayed by their opinions and preferences. What we did do was, each of us, took our final short-list to a co-worker (who’s more like an acquaintance) and tried their native tongue on the pronunciation of the names.
So, in the end our short-list had 31 names, which met most of the above criteria. Six were ruled out due to them not meeting all the criteria. Trimmed down to a final 6, listed alphabetically.
Brinda (বৃন্দা) means “tulsi” or the ‘basil plant’ in Sanskrit/Bangla. The English derivative meaning is ‘pure’ – derived from the fact that the basil plant is considered to be holy and pure in Indian culture.
Incidentally, though Brinda was the probably the first name I came up with, Rhea was my 1st choice. Vivian was not a big fan of Brinda initially, but it slowly grew on her. We had not decided on the *final* name before we went in for the delivery, we had left it at “we’ll know when we see her”-diktat, but I think both of us knew in our hearts that Brinda was the one.
For the middle name, we had left the naming process completely up to Vivian. She worked out the various combinations of initials and the monogram, with the first, middle and last names and emerged with Rose, my mother-in-law’s first name [which does not violate code 1.(d) as we are talking about middle names here and not first names].
There you have it – a complete course on how to name your baby!