What's in a Name Essay

What's in a Name Essay

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There are many cultures that place a huge importance in names and the naming of their child. In these cultures a name is more than a nice-sounding label, a name can tell a story and pave way for a destiny. Many believe that while it might be easy to brush off names as less important than personality or parenting, it's not so far-fetched to say that a name is one's destiny.
There is a fair amount of research in our society that backs up something called "nominative determinism.” This is the theory that a name may influence career, professional life, and even who you choose to marry (“Nominative Determinism”). While scientists and writers alike have put hours into these studies, I don’t necessarily agree with their analysis. The belief that “the name makes the person” or that a name will signify all future successes and failures of an individual is completely lost on me. It's important to remember that the meanings we associate with names, and not the names themselves, are the product of heritage, upbringing, culture and the world we live in. Identity then, in fact, does not hinge on a name, but the importance that we place on a name. It is derived from who gave you your name and why.
This can be very complicated and perplexing issue to immigrants as they work to make their way in a new country. Manuel Munoz exemplifies this point when he states, “Ours, then, were names that stood as barriers to a complete embrace of an American identity, simply because their pronunciations required a slip into Spanish, the otherness that assimilation was supposed to erase”(114). In making this comment, Munoz is asserting his claim that without Americanizing his name, he would never truly fit in. That he could never really identify h...


... middle of paper ...


...ries. Because, after all, “it’s not the name that matters. It’s the person who stands behind it” (Kosic 54).



Works Cited

Dubner, Stephen J., and Steven D. Levitt. "Trading Up: Where Do Baby Names Come
From?" Convergences: Themes, Texts, and Images for Composition. Ed. Robert Atwan. 3rd ed. Boston: Bedford/St. Martin's, 2009. 118-21. Print
Kosic, Milos. "It's Not the Name That Matters." Convergences: Themes, Texts, and
Images for Composition. Ed. Robert Atwan. 3rd ed. Boston: Bedford/St. Martin's, 2009. 52-54. Print.
Lahiri, Jhumpa. The Namesake. Boston: Houghton Mifflin, 2003. Print.
Munoz, Manuel. “Leave Your Name at the Border.” Convergences: Themes, Texts, and
Images for Composition. Ed. Robert Atwan. 3rd ed. Boston: Bedford/St. Martin’s, 2009. 112-117. Print.
"Nominative Determinism." Wikipedia. Wikimedia Foundation, 15 Mar. 2014. Web.
16 Mar. 2014.

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