In my last couple of trips to my Georgia house I concentrated on cleaning out the garage which was totally full. It's almost empty now. But thousands of books are still there. When I pass by a bookshelf, I'll pick one up at random. As I leafed through a book of quotations, I read the well known Shakespeare's quotation from Romeo and Juliet (Act II, Scene ii.) "What's in a name
The 4 1/2 hour drive back to Nashville gave me time to ponder on this quote and all its meanings ... roses...I had a rose garden in Georgia... I grew more than 150 rose cultivars: hybrid teas, floribunda, polyantha, a climber, a rambler, old-fashioned or heirlooom roses and grandiflora. One of my favorite roses was a strong tall bush, a grandiflora named Queen Elizabeth, with glorious pink blooms (as shown below.) I could see it from my kitchen window. It was introduced in 1954 to mark the Queen's coronation in 1953.
This royal rose was well named. My garden is long gone; now I just have a framed drawing of this regal rose. But maybe when I have more time I'll introduce this rose to my Nashville garden. I used to belong to the Deep South District of the Rose Society in Atlanta. At monthly meetings we would discuss roses and have a great time - I went there for years. Members were usually much older than me and came from every walk of life - we were united by our love of roses. It was a kind and fun crowd sharing rose information. I miss them. I still have the silver platter I won for 1st prize as a novice in the Atlanta Rose Show with my rose Mr. Lincoln.
"I don't know whether nice people tend to grow roses or growing roses makes people nice.
" (Roland A. Browne, American author.)
The names of my roses escaped me but last week I found a list of my roses. Below are top left The Peace Rose next to Dortmund (a rambler,) below left is Chrysler Imperial next to The Cherokee Rose, which is Georgia's official state "floral emblem."
In the Shakespeare's play, Juliet is telling Romeo that names are inconsequent and trivial. I take issue with this. Names are part of our identity, they influence us and how others perceive us. They can carry familial and cultural connections. Other people can make judgments or assumptions about us through our name. This reminds me that years ago, when I was expecting my first child, my husband told me that if the baby was a boy he liked the name Colin. The baby would be registered at the French Embassy as a French citizen through me, and then as a US citizen through my husband. The name of the child should sound fine in both languages and colin, in French, is a fish, a pollock, a cousin of the cod. The colin/pollock fish is popular with cooks because of its mild taste and flaky texture.
My grandparents came often to eat with us on Sundays in Paris and my mother would usually start the meal with a cold "colin" mayonnaise, as shown below.
I could not call my newborn a fish in French. Altough maybe with some French people who understand English, it might not sound so bad, but my French relatives did not speak English. Fortunately, our first baby was a girl (our second child was a girl as well.) In English, as well, names can be a problem, as I learnt at work. During my first ten years at Lockheed-Martin I was in charge of trainees coming to our plant to study our cargo aircraft the C-130 Hercules. My first duty when the trainees arrived was to draw a list of their names, birth dates, check their IDs or passports if they were from overseas so our Security Department could issue entrance badges to them. One time I made a list of Mexican trainees. I picked up the name of their country from their passports. As you can see from the picture below, it says "Estados Unidos Mexicanos" so I translated it as "United States of Mexico." Below map of Mexico overlaid on map of the USA.
Oh my! I received a telephone call from an irate Security Officer telling me that I had made a grave error in my document. He told me that only the United States of America can use the term "United States" and certainly not Mexico. He was returning my document and wanted me to correct the country's name. I was not sure what to call it. One of the Mexican trainees was standing near me and explained that they are aware of how defensive and possessive the USA is about the term "united states" and refuses for any other country to use it. He added that they translate it in English as the United Mexican States, placing the "united" first and "states" last to avoid hurting sensibilities here. So this is what I did. You see, names are important and can cause problems. Whatever one wishes to call the country of Mexico, it does have many states - 32 I believe. A photo of Mexico overlaid over Europe shows that it is a large country. (Click on collage to enlarge.)
Some countries are very strict about baby names; they even have laws on it. Denmark provides a list of 7,000 pre-approved names for parents to pick. If parents have another name in mind that is not on the list they will have to get special permission that will be reviewed by government officials. In Germany the first name must show the gender of the child, so you cannot use last names. The name must also be approved by the Standesamt (German Civil registration office.) If the name is not approved, you can appeal; if you lose you can submit another name and pay a fee. In Iceland the name has to be accepted by the "naming committee." It must contain letters in the Iceland alphabet and fit with the language, must be gender specific and won't embarrass the child in the future. In Sweden the Tax Agency has to approve the name, and it will be rejected if deemed not suitable. Portugal has banned the shortened versions of names as official names, so you can name you son Frederic but not Fred, and they also have a 4,000 list of prohibited names. In France, Napoleon Bonaparte created a law in 1803 showing which names were acceptable. In 1993 this law was repealed but if the registrar believes the chosen name could be damaging to the child's interest, he or she can refuse to confirm the name; the court needs to provide further consideration. But there are still banned names in France.
In 2015, a French couple wished to name their newborn girl "Nutella" afer the chocolate spread. (Photo above courtesy Imperial Sugar.) A judge denied their request stating that other children might mock her. The judge approved the name Ella instead (take it or not...) In France children cannot have the last name of a parent as a first name. Other names rejected were: Automne (fall in English) Joyeux (happy in English) Vanille (vanilla) Gentil (kind in English) Ravi (Indian name.) The name Manhattan was denied because it is the name of a known place. In the US I have heard people called after names of places, such as Lorraine (a French province) and its capital Nancy (a city) Rochelle (a French town by the sea) Chelsea (a London neighborhood) Paris (a capital) Africa (a continent) Asia, etc.
Most countries will not approve names that could be "detrimental to the child's interests" and have ratified the legally-binding international agreement of the United Nations Convention on the Rights of the Child (UNCRC) adopted in 1989. It acknowledges that children have basic fundamental rights. You can read it here
. It is the most widely ratified human rights treaty in history with 194 countries having done so. Only three countries have not ratified this human treaty: Somalia, South Sudan and the United States of America. The US says that it could interfere in the private lives of families, such as discipline. But then I found out that Former President Jimmy Carter signed the Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Discrimination against Women (CEDAW) on July 17, 1980, and this treaty has never been ratified by the United States of America either. Could it be the reverse then, that the US state can
interfere in the private lives of women? This treaty has been ratified by 189 countries. The countries that have not are: Iran, Palau, Somalia, Sudan, Tonga and the USA. But people can name their babies anything they wish here in this country.
Some US celebrities have given their poor children outrageous names - after cardinal points, seasons, colors, and more, such as Sage Moonblood, Audio Science, Bronx Mowgli, Denim and North. I found a list with appalling names given legally to US babies in 2022, such as Furious, Renegade, Billion, Luxury, Envy, Whiskey, Paradise, Exit, Handsome, Capone, Corleone (after the Godfather movie) Fairy, Rooster. How would you like to be named any of those? A name is powerful; it is an important part of our identity and should not be trivialized.
The top red rose was my winning Mr. Lincoln rose. I think "rose" is a good name for the flower, it is the same in French and English and calls to mind a delicate plant with lovely blooms and fragrance. If we changed the name of the rose to "cockroach" or "dung beetle" it might still smell as sweet as Juliet said, but would its image be as evocative and meaningful? No, let's keep calling it a rose, shall we?
You are so right.
As far as I am aware there are no rules about what you can and cannot name children in Australia but I do think that some names constitute child abuse.
PS: I have checked. We do have some regulations. In Australia, naming laws are governed by the States and Territories which may have differing restrictions. Most states prohibit names that are too long, include unpronounceable symbols such as !, @ or # (apart from hyphens between names), that include official titles or are otherwise obscene or offensive. All of these sound perfectly reasonable to me.
Love your roses. Mr Lincoln is a beauty.
"Names are part of our identity." Perhaps, but in my case I had to grow into my first name - Roderick - dreamed up by my parents on the grounds that my surname (Robinson) was as common as bad grammar
(ie, "Smith, Jones, Robinson and Brown,
Known in every town...")
At school I welcomed the sobriquet Robbo, anything to escape the burden of three syllables. Two factors led to my acceptance of that lumbering label. In journalism, some of my stuff carried bylines; quite quickly I realised that R. Robinson was never going to stick in anyone's mind and that Roderick Robinson might.
On returning from work in the USA in 1972 I started taking weekly French conversation lessons which continued until three or four years ago. Those two rs in Roderick, as pronounced by any French citizen but, particularly, by French women, revealed that my first name was a gilded asset to the Francophile I had become. Le nom, c'est l'homme.
I did not realize that naming a new child was controlled in many countries. In America, our guiding moral principles are all centered on money and freedom. Money predominates. I find this sad. It results in many decisions that hurt others. I do agree that names are very important, and I spent a long time before choosing the names of my children. (Jonathan and Benjamin, if you are curious…)
A fascinating read! My husband chose our son's name. Because of the length of our last name, he wanted something short, so that our child wouldn't have to write a long name when he started reading and writing things out at school. It is interesting how the rules change from country to country on this subject.
Well, I certainly enjoyed this read ...
It is interesting how the rules of countries differ on names.
I did enjoy seeing all of the roses, what a wonderful flower they are.
Happy February Wishes.
All the best Jan
I love this post! I not only learned a great deal, but I find I have quite a bit of prejudice when it comes to people with names like Exit or Rooster. I remember hearing years ago about someone named Hogg who gave his girls the names Ima and Yura. And oh those roses you show here gave me such joy and pleasure to see, and who would EVER think of changing the name of that beautiful flower??
Beautiful roses, Vagabonde. I also like your painting with a beautiful rose. In Russia, such names as Stalin, Oktobrina, Rem were popular many years ago. Now babies are given old names like Anastasia, Mathvey, Marat.
I learned a lot from your post, thanks.
This is very interesting -- the naming thing is carried a bit far, I think. I would hate to have to pick from 7,000 Danish names, or rather, be stuck with them. Of course, names can lead to nicknames -- some fine, some not so much!
Are you going to transplant you roses to Nashville?
An interesting post. I never knew all the info you shared about names. Thanks for sharing this nice post.
Hi Vagabonde, Very interesting as usual! I didn't know that other countries limited parents' ability to name their children whatever they wanted... I wonder how the Scandinavian countries are handling the naming of babies that are part of the influx of migrants from the Middle East? The names in our family are pretty standard...with Emmett being the most unusual...our youngest grandson. My wife has a sister named Karole...certainly an unusual spelling. I also didn't know about the fuss the USA raises if anyone tries to name their country "The United States of"! Some have used the term in the past...i.e., the United States of Venezuela...until 1953, the US of Brazil from 1937 - 1967 and the US of Indonesia from 1949 - 1950. FYI, I also worked in the aircraft industry at McDonnell-Douglas for a couple of years...in the security department. At one point I was the Crypto Officer and I also spent a lot of time auditing classified files and those who had signed for them. As an aside, the C-130 was and is an amazing and durable aircraft. I saw that stamp used as an illustration in your post...I only have 6 stamps from the French Southern and Antarctic Territories. Love French colonial/French possession stamps... Take Care, Big Daddy Dave
What a great post, very interesting. We hear a few strange names here in the UK. I agree about roses, they are beautiful, probably my favourite flower.
A very interesting blog post Vagabonde. I've learnt a lot about the restrictions in different countries when naming a child. My husband and I chose Italian names for our three children to honour his Italian heritage. Here in the UK names that were once thought of as old-fashioned are coming back into fashion. Your rose images are beautiful. I wish that you were able to grow them in Nashville and I'm sorry to hear from your visit to my blog and comment that the dry conditions make this difficult. I'm glad that you have memories and pictures of this beautiful flower. Roses grow so easily in our UK garden and I'm thankful for that.
What a fascinating post! So many interesting points here. But you really buried the lead! I am a huge aviation fan. Here on Oahu we have a huge military presence and I often see the Hercules fly. It's a thrill every time and now I will have the satisfaction of knowing someone who was involved with it. Best wishes my friend. Thanks for your comment and this really interesting post
My middle name given to me at birth was Shoshana, meaning a rose in Hebrew. Happily my parents gave me the middle name of Rosalie :)
This whole business of people giving ridiculous names to their children baffles me. As you point out some can be downright offensive and to saddle a child with such a monniker is poor parenting to say the least. Can you imagine the taunting at school? I am very much a traditionalist when it comes to names. I remember growing up and knowing three men named Reuben Corbishly - grandfather, father and son - and Reuben sounds like a good solid name to me. Much better than Aerosol or Whisky. And some names seem to be totally made up on a whim. I like my name. David sounds pretty good to me.
Such beautiful roses! I have not had much luck with any but the hardiest of roses. Ad I love your reflections on names. I know a Japanese woman whose parents wanted to name her Lena but were told by the government that there was no L in Japanese, but she could be registered as Rena. Which is what happened, but she goes by Lena anyway.
My mother named me a very unusual name and I hated it as a child because nobody could remember it, or say it, or spell it. But now I am an old lady (!!!) I enjoy being unique.
Your posts are always so interesting and well written and I always learn something new. I agree with you on the irony of the refusal of our country to sign on to those agreements. And the sad excuse that was used. Sigh. .... We have a grandson named Collin (the different spelling is what they use) still it is pretty close to that French word for the fish (I don't think I'll tell him)! I was also interested to learn about the German rule for naming -- we have a month-old great-granddaughter born near Munich. Her name is Olivia, so no problem with the rule -- she'll have triple citizenship so I look for her to be a force on the world stage in another two or three or four decades (not that I'll actually be around to see that).
OH and PS: My dad grew roses and had a hedge of Queen Elizabeths, so those especially brought sweet memories (He was definitely a nice person).
Sorry for the late commenting. I am a bit out of sink. So many things happening in the world and NZ. Absolutely love your roses Beautiful
I think it's a good idea to restrict the names of children. Even if kids shouldn't be bullied, they do when they have strange names. I enjoyed naming my children. I choose the girl names which were Dutch and my husband had chosen the boys name They were English. We had one of both. I don't think there are restrictions here nor in the Netherlands Can't wait for my first grandchild to arrive in 10 weeks and hear his name.
Belle et intéressant publication Vagabonde !
Tes roses sont magnifiques.
J'ai des rosiers qui me donnent de belle rose, la plus belle était une "Jules Verne", En la voyant je me suis dit que le nom de ce rosier aurait pu être un nom féminin.
Quant aux prénoms, par exemple, mes parents ne se sont pas trop casser la tête en ce qui me concerne, à part que je dis souvent que j'ai un nom de reine et de prune.
Pour parler pâte à tartiner, je n'aime pas le Nutella, trop gout de noisette. par contre mon Chéri achète maintenant de la pâte à tartiner de chez Milka, elle est meilleure de goût et cela pourrait faire un joli prénom de fille.
Dès que j'ai un moment, je t'envoie un mail.
Hi Vagabonde - as the others have said - such a full and interesting post. What's in a name - now-a-days ... remembering people's names can be difficult - so many varieties! Wonderful roses and gardens you must have had over the years ...
I agree with you re fish - not a good name for a French child - but interesting to know about.
I was named Hilary after St Hilary's Day ... and for other familial reasons - then at school, with three of us, I became known by my surname, then since ... Hilary, Hils, Hilly and my nickname - that shall remain with me!
Cheers - lovely informative post - Hilary
Je suis en train de demander si j'ai bien ta bonne adresse mail.
Peux tu me la donner sur la mienne. Merci et bises !
As usual, I learned so much from this post. I wish we had rules about names. So many people now name their kids crazy names and some are beyond pronouncing. I had a brother who named one of his children using the surname for all three names. When the child started school he was humiliated when the teacher questioned him about his name and the other kids laughed. He finally was able to have his middle name changed and went by that name and his last name. I think it had a terrible effect on him all of his life. I love roses. They were my mother's favorite flowers and she always had them growing in her yard. I just received a bouquet of flowers from a niece and it had many roses in it. Thanks for this great post.
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