Sunday, November 23, 2008

Name Change

What's in a name? Not much some say, but if it's going to be a nickname it should be one that you like. So I'm going back to the old one...and I mean matter where I ended up growing up, this name followed me without me even bringing it up. The one I picked to start this rambling experiment up was supposed to be related to the title (Stickthulhu, a stick figure of H.P. Lovecraft's Cthulhu), but never really took with ME, the important one here.

So, from here on out, please call me Bull. I like it.

Names are important. Important to get right. I remember going to a Chinese restaurant with my family when I was young, and I was reading the menu and making fun of the names. My dad told me to make an effort to pronounce things correctly and be more "respectful", reminding me that it's important to people from different cultures or even from the same town to try and pronounce words and names correctly.
I've carried that with me to this day.

I also remember reading Le Guin's A Wizard of Earthsea around the same time, and in that book the way to truly hold power over anything was to know it's name. He uses this to defeat a demon he inadvertently released when he was a young apprentice by realizing the demon's name was his own. Good book. Suck on that, Harry Potter.

Not to mention my Commanding Officer when I was stationed on a frigate. He was very technically savvy, wanted to know things in detail, and never liked getting explanations about "the switch that you manually flip to provide alternate power to the place where they cook". He wanted "The MBT for the galley equipment". He always said, "The beginning of wisdom is to call everything by it's name". A Chinese proverb I believe. It definitely has it's place on a ship at sea. The fortune cookie wisdom of the Chinese restaurant had come full circle.

Not just that, but I find people are more appreciative when you make an effort to pronounce their name correctly. It's a small thing I know, but it tells them you're not lazy, and that they are important to you, even if just in the limited context of the circumstance at hand. And these days, that's a nice touch.

Okay...finally, I'm going to break out this guitar that's been waiting for me for two days and see if I can tune it. Wish me luck.

1 comment:

MRMacrum said...

Okay, Bull it is. Having a name myself that has been mangled, mispelled, and generally disrespected my whole life makes me more than just aware of your concern, I lived it. I can remember in school often refusing to answer my name if it was mis-pronounced. But only after giving the instructor many chances to get it right beforehand. At some point it gets old.

On the other side of it though is my acceptance of any derivative of the name as a nickname. I answer to (in no particular order) Crum, Crummy, Crum Bum, Crumbles or whatever else you might come with. Just don't get the last name wrong more than twice, then I get pissy.