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Saturday, June 25, 2022

The plight of naming a baby

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– Jean Pierre, are your parents French?

– No, from here, from Alcorcón.

It happened in a kindergarten attended by a friend’s daughter. You have to go through life very hard to accommodate your son Jean Pierre if you don’t have a single French gene. But think about it, if you like the name Jean Pierre, why not give it to your son? Life is short and full of suffering, God doesn’t exist and nothing matters, so why not give us these little pleasures?

The names change a lot. There’s Zoes and Noas and Chloes and Niles and Enzos and Izans. Lifelong names like Sergio, Carmen, Rodrigo, Marta, Álvaro or Teresa will be as strange and anachronistic to new generations as Eustaquio, Remigia, Hermógenes or Visitación are to ours. It is one of the main goals of the incessantly passing time: to ridicule our life in the eyes of the inhabitants of the future.

Choosing a name for a new person is not an easy task: if done wrong, it can weigh the whole life of our descendants like a record, well chosen it can significantly enhance their natural talents. Therefore, many factors need to be considered. In my opinion, virtue lies in the Aristotelian middle between modernity and tradition. I think if the person has a very common surname it’s good to give them a name with more personality, common names go well with rare surnames. I don’t know if there are many cases like Rodrigo Rodríguez or Álvaro Álvarez, I know that there is a Marc Márquez who is a motorcyclist.

There is a very traditional option which is to give the child the father’s name, thus perpetuating the nomenclature generation after generation. I know children who have the same name as their parents, their grandparents, their great-grandparents: it’s easy to notice the weight of lineage on one’s name, a burden in individualistic times. Traditionally, the name that marked the saints was also given (I know of recent instances of this practice), although it leaves too much in the hands of fate, biology, and the saints. Let’s take control of our lives, or at least those of our descendants. Who knows, maybe in the near future people’s names will be similar to these notches from the Internet: @Poopi_flip, Xpepe96 or Nebula.5. It will be a beautiful world.

We mix a lot of names for our little Candela, but not that many. Liliana liked Miranda, it seemed to me posh Hipster; or Guillermina, which sounded to me like a marquise gone less on a side of Proust. I was muse of dance and choral singing for bombastic mythological names like Andromeda, Calliope or even Terpsichore. Lili stopped me for obvious reasons. The first finalist’s name was Celeste, and indeed Candela was called that for a time before she was born, although she will likely never know. It’s a poetic name and since the father was studying astrophysics during the race, it suited him too. But over time it started to feel a bit cheesy and a friend suggested Candela, which won us over immediately (there were some crazy days with a compound name, the beautiful Candela Celeste, which we ended up thinking was overkill).

Candela struck us as fresh and modern as well as traditional. I assume yesterday’s candelas were called María de la Candelaria or something like that. It also has an Andalusian flair (although surprisingly it’s more Tenerife where the Virgo of this sector comes from), very fitting to honor my paternal genes, and an odd one lavapiesero, where Candela grows up. Candela sounds very lolailo, but my mother doesn’t like to hear that. The same is true when Candela turns into a scruffy hippie who walks around smoking flowers as if the girl is rather posh and spends her afternoons at home vernissages of contemporary art taking selfies with pouty lips. But the best thing about candela is that it means fire.

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Source elpais.com

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