A week ago I posted about a baby who was named for the air raid shelter he was born in. Here’s a somewhat similar story:
A baby girl was born to an Irish mother living in London around the start of The Blitz, which lasted from September 1940 to May 1941.
[The] baby girl was named “Sireen” because, her mother explained, the “all clear” siren was wailing when the child was born.
That “-een” ending reminds me of familiar Irish girl names like Cathleen and Maureen, which are Anglicized forms of Caitlín and Máirín. In these names, the “-ín” is a diminutive suffix. If Sireen’s mother created the name with this suffix in mind, we could interpret it as meaning “little siren.”
The Polaris Expedition (1871-1873) was one of the many ill-fated early attempts to reach the North Pole.
In November of the first year, the ship’s captain, Charles Francis Hall, died — possibly from being poisoned. In October of the second year, the ship’s company accidentally broke up: 19 people were stranded on an ice floe while 14 remained on board.
Among those on the floe were Inuit hunter/interpreter Hans Hendrik (Greenlandic name: Suersaq), his wife Mergut, and their four children — including a newborn. The baby boy had arrived in August of 1871, while the family was still aboard the ship.
No doubt his parents gave him a Greenlandic name, but all the accounts of the expedition only mention the baby’s English name: Charlie Polaris. “Charlie” was for the late captain, and “Polaris” was for the ship.
Baby Charlie and the others were finally rescued in April of 1973 off the coast of Newfoundland, having drifted some 1,500 miles.
Nzingha Motisla Masani was given her African name at a naming ceremony in 1974. Many friends and family members disapproved of (or simply didn’t acknowledge) her name change, but some of the people she encountered strongly approved:
I got my name changed while I was working for a politician, and I went to a lot of community meetings. And I got up one night at this ninety-five percent Polish meeting. I told them proudly that, “Please do not call me by my old name, my birth name. I’m proud to tell everyone that my new name is Nzinga Motisla Masani.” […] And they gave me a standing ovation. Well a lot of the Polish people came up to me after the meeting and they had to immediately change their name when they got here in order to get a job, or in order to fit into society. They admired me for doing it and they said that some of what I said to them motivated them to tell their children the importance of their history and the importance of your name.
Prolific romance author Parris Afton Bonds — who co-founded both Romance Writers of America and the Southwest Writers Workshop — explained the origin of her first and middle names in an article from 1981:
“I’d like to tell you I was named after Paris, France,” Parris Afton Bonds told me as I visited her in her house outside Lewisville, “but I wasn’t. It was Paris, Kentucky.” She was, however, named after the River Afton in Scotland, and she pointed to a bottle on her bookshelf, still bearing a Schweppes label, that was filled with Afton water.
Other sources specify that Parris was in fact conceived in Paris, Kentucky.