What’s In A Name?

Ah, the famous quote from the famous Shakespeare’s famous play. Know it? Well, it’s Hamlet, of course. Sorry, no that would be Romeo and Juliet. See, that’s what’s in a name…the correct answer.

Names have been a means of defining who and where people are.  If your ancestors were blacksmiths, you might have a last night like Hammersmith. Yes, I like that.  Perhaps they made pies for a living, in which case you might be related to Mrs. Smith.  See, it’s simple really.

My ancestry is mostly Welsh and Scottish.  Some of those Gaelic folk ended up in England, but the association is not as much of an imprint as is the origin.  There’s been some Dutch and, possibly French mixed into the family lines, but still the Scotch and Welsh are the fundamental core of my heritage.

It seems that my desires are tending to a reunion of sorts with those places from which my family emerged more than two hundred years ago.  I am confident that I could join the DAR (Daughters of the American Revolution) if I were so inclined.  I can trace the family tree back to a general in the revolution, as well as various other soldiers in the cause.  The great elder of the Merediths was given a land grant for his war service, and settled in Kentucky to produce a large family that has populated that region and made the name as common there as Smith is most places elsewhere.

Recently, I have discovered the Welsh pronunciation of the name Meredith.  I was watching an episode of Torchwood in which a character was named Mer-e’-dith.  I’m spelling it out so you can see the emphasis is on the second “e”.  In this country, we slur it all together, causing much confusion when it comes to spelling, accounting for the various forms of the name and the inability of many people to spell it at all.  Much of the frustration of my youth was in the sometimes futile cause to have my name spelled or pronounced correctly.  Glenna Meredith is, it seems, quite a puzzle to many, teachers included.

Anyway, I heard that proununciation of my name, and it was different. But, it was correct.  The name is Welsh, and it should be pronounced after the manner of the language from which it has come.  My dilemma is whether or not to start utilizing this revelation and change the way I say my own name.  Do I dive into new territory or just leave it as it is?  Certainly, it would be more interesting to say it the Welsh way, and if I can ever make it Wales, that’s the way I would want to introduce myself.  I would not want to appear ignorant concerning my own name.

So there.  This is not earth shaking, nor will it most probably change my life.  But, still…a name is important.  And, taking the care for it to be correctly expressed seems to me, to be worthy of consideration.  Maybe the association of Meredith with the terms pompous and lordly have something to do with it.  I have even been accused of exhibiting some of those attributes, if we can call them such. 

Do our names define us?  I’m not sure, but I can’t say that they don’t.  Do we have our names simply because of the serendipity of our parents’ choices, or are some things pre-determined by God, or the universe, in order to more fully define and explain who we are?

What’s in a name?  Maybe nothing…maybe more than we know.


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