From “The Eyes Have It,” an interview with Orange Is the New Black actress Uzoamaka “Uzo” Aduba, who was asked whether she ever considered changing her name:
When I started as an actor? No, and I’ll tell you why. I had already gone through that. My family is from Nigeria, and my full name is Uzoamaka, which means “The road is good.” Quick lesson: My tribe is Igbo, and you name your kid something that tells your history and hopefully predicts your future. So anyway, in grade school, because my last name started with an A, I was the first in roll call, and nobody ever knew how to pronounce it. So I went home and asked my mother if I could be called Zoe. I remember she was cooking, and in her Nigerian accent she said, “Why?” I said, “Nobody can pronounce it.” Without missing a beat, she said, “If they can learn to say Tchaikovsky and Michelangelo and Dostoyevsky, they can learn to say Uzoamaka.”
(There’s a Tchaikovsky in Brazil.)
From an article about a woman named Cinderella in the Irish Independent:
“I’d been living as Eva my whole life until I found out my name was Evangeline Cinderella. Of course this was the most amazing news as a seven year old girl and unfortunately I told everybody. I’ve paid for it ever since. People have always remembered,” she said.
From the essay “The name shame of Axl, Anakin, Arya…” by Gene Weingarten (via Name News):
To consult this list [the SSA’s Change in Popularity list] is to dip your toe into the fetid waters of cheesy celebrity worship. Consider this: One of the skyrocketing names is … “Anakin.” Yes, people are giving their baby boys a name invented specifically to sound non-human, for a character in another galaxy far, far away, one who grows up to become Darth Vader, an evil overlord who wants to enslave the universe. (There have been plenty of Darths, too.)
(Here’s more on Darth.)
From the video “Instrument: Celeste” featuring keyboardist Elizabeth Burley of the Philharmonia Orchestra of London:
I’ve got a celeste here today to show you how that works. As you’ll see it looks a little bit like an upright piano, but it’s actually a lot different. Although it’s operated by a keyboard, inside, instead of strings, it’s a set of…metal chime bars. They’re suspended over wooden resonating boxes, and when I press a key, a hammer hits the chime bar to make the sound, like on a piano the hammer would hit the string. The name celeste…it’s a French name meaning “heavenly,” and it does make a very heavenly sound, as you’ll hear.
From a blog post about electronic music pioneer Delia Derbyshire at Open Culture:
With her buttoned-up style, work with the UN, and name like a plucky character in a certain English wizard series, Delia Derbyshire may not seem a likely pioneer of experimental electronic music.
From the blog post “What’s in a Name?” by theology professor/social activist Rev. Dr. Miguel A. De La Torre:
Today, no one calls me Brother Mike. Nonetheless, if the first act of liberation is self naming, why do I still insist on spelling my surname the way those who had power over me taught me? I have no doubt the reader is probably wondering what’s the big deal? Just spell my name correctly. What they fail to recognize is the power of the colonizing process, and the difficulty to reclaim identity. So as I tag my name to my liberationist works I am reminded with each upper case letter how far I still need to go to claim my own liberation. The struggle, la lucha, continues, even in the letters of my name.
From the article “What Your Conference Room Names Say About Your Company Culture” by Ekaterina Walter:
At Sprinklr, our conference rooms are named after the company’s values. Honesty, Passion, Perseverance, Humility, Character, Courage, and Integrity are just some of the names you will encounter. My personal favorites are Awesomeness and 1+1=3. When I asked our founder, Ragy Thomas, why the leadership team chose to name conference rooms in this way, he said: “It would be kind of hard to be arrogant in a room named Humility, wouldn’t it? Or give up in a room named Perseverance, don’t you think?”
From the New York Times article “Jens and Vita, but Molli? Danes Favor Common Names” (2004) about Denmark’s Law on Personal Names, which was “initially designed to bring order to surnames”:
Then in the 1960’s, a furor erupted over the first name Tessa, which resembled tisse, which means to urinate in Danish. Distressed over the lack of direction in the law, the Danish government expanded the statute to grapple with first names. Now the law is as long as an average-size book.
Among the baby names rejected in Denmark: Anus, Pluto, and Monkey. Among those accepted: Leica, Benji, Jiminico, and Fee.
Want more quotes? Here’s the name quotes category.