What's in a name?
July 21, 1998
This article was originally published in Kayhan International in 1970.
Some names become famous in pairs; Romeo and Juliet, Lailee and Majnun, Tristan and Isolde, Shirin and Farhad, George and Martha. Names can be the beginning of love, fame and fortune and weave a mysterious charm and desire to possess the name alone. [Heart surgeon] Dr. Barnard was recently quoted as saying about his bride, "I loved Barbara before I saw her. I loved her when I first heard her name."
Searching for the right name may make the difference between being called Bernie Schwartz or Tony Curtis. In Abadan, a man recently changed his first name from Zahremar (Snake Poison) to Ahmad -- thankfully not Ahmagh (Stupid)! Another man changed his name from Gerdoo (Walnut) to Iraj. Last year some 2,000 names were registered at the Registry Office free of charge.
An official book of names is available for those who need help in finding the right name but there are some limitations. Unless you are a foreigner or married to one, you can not choose a foreign name.
Names of famous men such as Hafez, Khayyam, Ferdowsi are not allowed or names of colors which were once popular names such as Sorkheh (Red) Zardeh (Yellow). It is considered bad luck to name a child after a member of the family who is living. A large family may cause a father to choose a name in desperation. The tenth child in a family is often named Bas (Enough).
The final selection may reveal whether you are a villager or a city man. Villagers tend to choose names such as Sedigheh, Khadeejeh, Zaynab, Zahra, Kobra, Soghra, where as a city man prefers Shahin, Shahla, Mitra, Shahnaz, Maneezheh, Nasrin.
The most popular names are selected from the Shahnameh: Ardeshir, Shahram, Anoushirvan, Bahram, Bahman, Esfandiar, Gudarz and Kaivan. You can select only one name. Middle names are not allowed. If you would like to leave the name to chance, write several names on pieces of paper, roll them up and put them in the Koran. Open the book and let a young child pick one.
In Germany some unusual coincidences have been found between famous men's names, especially psychoanalysts and their theories. Karl Marx is Karl Marks in German. His name denotes money and also means boundaries of a piece of land. Freud means joy in German and his theory concerned the pleasure-pain principal. Felix Adler: Adler means eagle and his theory concerned the superiority complex. Carl Jung means young in German and he was interested in the power principle. Einstein means one stone and his theory concerned the atom. You can easily spot people who are interested in name/concept relationships by their characteristic remark: "What did you say your name was again?"
The consolation prize may still go to those who are not fortunate enough to have a beautiful name, for as Shakespeare said in his famous line: "What's in a name? That which we call a rose by any other name would not smell as sweet."
and "Freed" Iranian names (Persian)
Official list of names (1995) you can and cannot put on your child.
Change a Name?
dAyi Hamid is baffled by those who Westernize their names.