Friday, July 13, 2012

My Adoptive Name: is it Prophetic Etymology?

I am apologizing in advance because this blog entry has scarcely anything to do with its title.  I was reading through my last post where I noted that my adoptive surname appears oddly similar to an Old French word that means "to transfer" or "to make a copy."  When reading this, I couldn't help but comment to myself that the etymology of the name seemed prophetic.  I'm adopted and my last name means "to transfer" (actually, the OED says "to be transferred")--I mean, come on.  Furthermore, who better for a last name that means "to copy" to go to than someone who grew up to gripe about the incorrect copy made of her birth certificate?  I asked myself if it could be prophetic.  I decided the answer is "no."  The title of the post gets to stay though, because it is awesome.

My adoptive, maiden name is not truly prophetic for several reasons.  First, there are thousands of people with the same last name--many of them, I assume, are not adopted.  There are also alternative meanings to my last name.  I once had an educator who enjoyed researching name meanings and history as a hobby.  He informed me one day that he researched my surname because he found it peculiar.  He came to the conclusion that it came from French and meant "traveler."  I thanked him kindly for the insight but have yet to find confirmation of his claim, to this day.  

Lastly, I am just not into the "it was meant to be" stuff when it comes to my adoption.  Not that "predestination'" and "prophecy" are synonymous, because they aren't ("Predestination" is apparently synonymous with "the way the cookie crumbles," according to my thesaurus.  Good to know).  My rejection of predestinarianism when it comes to my adoption has little to do with my actual adoption itself and everything to do with my own spiritual views and metaphysical ideas, in general--in case you're wondering.  Prophetic?  No.  Ironic?  Yes.

What this post is actually about is the meaning of the names in my life.  I have always really liked learning about language and the meaning of the words.  It was only ever a hobby of mine as I never had the time or resources to really pursue it as a part of my academic dreams.  By the time I was seventeen, I spoke Spanish fluently (and can no longer) and decided I was also going to teach myself both Quechua and Hindi--at the same time.  I did learn quite a few words and phrases (that I can no longer remember).  However, that aspiration quickly fell by the wayside when I entered college and had my Freshman booty kicked by a 19 credit course-load, which included taking two, four-credit sciences with labs at the same time.

To this day, I am still very interested in names and languages.  It's no wonder when you consider that I have had four different first names and three different surnames throughout my life.  To me, they've all had significant meanings.

My married surname comes from a town in England.  My in-laws have warned me never to visit that town for fear that our ancestors may have owed someone else's ancestors money.

My original maternal surname is Scottish.  There is an entire book written about this surname.  I own it but have thus far been too lazy busy to read it.

My original paternal surname is Irish.  I don't know much about it.

My original name is "Christen Davida."  "Christen" means "Christian."  "Davida" is Hebrew and means "Beloved."  I was named after my uncle, Chris, who always looked out for my mother.  My middle name was given in honor of my uncle, David, who was killed in a car accident shortly before my birth.

My foster name means "Princess."  Which makes me chuckle.  My husband randomly decided to call me "Princess" as a sort of pet name once.  And only once.  I wasn't a huge fan and it's not because there's anything inherently wrong with the name "Princess."  I am not a fan of pet names in general.

My adoptive name is "Amanda JoAnn."  "Amanda" comes from Latin and means "worthy to be loved.  "Joann" comes from Hebrew and means "gift from God" or "God is gracious."  I was named after the woman at my parents' church who prayed for them to be able to adopt.

My husband and our oldest son have the same name.  It shares its meaning with my middle name, "gift from God."

My father-in-law's name, my husband's middle name, and my youngest son's name means "protector."  My father-in-law is a semi-retired police detective and security director for a college.  My husband is a firefighter and paramedic for a major city fire department.  They come from about seven generations of men with the same name.

Learning the meaning of names was part of my Bible curriculum in school growing up.  We always researched the meanings of the names of Biblical characters and how those meanings applied to their stories.  My favorite by far was "Methuselah," which means, "when he dies it shall come."  Tradition holds that only a few years after Methuselah's death, the Great Flood came.  None of my names predicted anything epic like a major flood but I still think they're pretty awesome.

Have you ever stopped to think about what your name(s) mean?