Tuesday, May 17, 2011

What's in a Name? Part II; Equine edition

Read Part I Here.
Chroicoragh and Siofra came to me already named, and I loved both - feminine, fitting, and Irish Gaelic. Chroicoragh was named after her mother, Clononeen Chroicoragh:



Chroi was born in Ireland and came to the US on an airplane when she was six months old. Quite an education for a weanling, and maybe that's why she's so smart.

It's amazing how a sweet little baby:


Can morph into a full-grown, beautiful horse:
(yes, it's the same horse!


Many people will change a horse's name upon taking ownership. Your Wildfire could be someone else's Rusty. This happened with our colt. I thought and contemplated and researched and stewed for days, trying to come up with the perfect name, and then I figured it out: Arthur. I absolutely loved it; classic, masculine, regal - heck, Arthurian. And it just happened to be my dad's name. Here's the little stinker:


He was the cutest thing - such a chunky monkey, and the wooliest little horse you ever saw. I can't wait to see pictures of him as he matures. He will be a fantastic stallion, lots of flash and attitude. The gal who bought Arthur is in east Texas, and changed his name to "Aubie," after the University of Auburn mascot. Some people think knights and legends, others think sports. But that's a prime example of names and meanings, and another of the many the differences between people. 

Names are a popular topic among writers as well. When you have a story to tell, the characters involved have to be compelling; someone you reader can relate to, and a name can really help the character connect to the reader's heart. 


Here's a few that come to mind: Holden Caulfield, Scout Finch, Elizabeth Bennett, Dorothy Gale, Bilbo Baggins, Harry Potter, Scarlett O'Hara, Sherlock Holmes, Lucy Pevensie, Jay Gatsby, Jane Eyre, Ebeneezer Scrooge (Does it get any better than that? Ebeneezer Scrooge?) Tell me there's not one character in that list that you didn't connect with somehow. And I would bet anyone reading this list could come up with at least ten more. 

In writing my story, I have to say I was lucky when it came to my lead character's name, because her name and the idea for the story happened at the same time. It just came to me all at once, like a lightning bolt. The side characters have been even more fun to create, and when the name comes, it helps form the image of the person in my mind. As I write, I see them; their expressions and reactions, how they walk. 


I'm like a little spy, up in the sky of their world watching it all unfold, and writing it down. It's actually a lot of fun. The hard part is when it gets foggy and you can't see what's going to happen next. Some people call it writer's block. To me, it's just a fog, a slight mist perhaps, that I just can't see through quite yet. 


But the naming of anything, whether it be babies, horses or fictional characters, is something that deserves a fair amount of thought and consideration. I usually have a pretty good idea of at least a few names to try. But this time around I was stumped. What to name this little creature?


For some reason I was drawn to floral names (Daisy, Blossom, Buttercup) but none of them fit. She's very feminine - leggy and graceful, and sweet. I'd always liked the name Serafina, but it just seemed a bit much. Besides, Ben Affleck and Jennifer Garner stole it. I even thought of Violet, since both of her eyes are blue, but the Afflecks stole that one, too. Buggars.

I also like the idea of sticking with an Irish name, but I figured it's enough to have one difficult-to-pronounce, non-phonetical name. I have always included a pronunciation hint for Chroicoragh's name (Cree-Core-ah), because it is a very unusual name, and because I can't stand it when I don't know how to pronounce something. J.K. Rowling drove me crazy with Hermione until she finally gave us a clue on how to say it: Her-my-o-nee.


People can get kind of carried away with the whole Gaelic thing, though. Don't get me wrong - I LOVE it. I love all things Celtic. But for these purposes, it's a little like salt. A bit of it is fine, for flavor, but too much is just overkill. I've seen breeder pages where every horse's name is some sort of ancient medieval spelling of a name that no one has any clue how to say, and then they don't even give you a pronunciation for it. Drives me crazy. Sjkjdhefb - there's my horse's name. It's pronounced "Jim." 
Okay, why not just call him Jim? 

So, in naming our newest filly, I wanted Irish, but not too crazy with the spelling, a nature name, and something feminine. When I knew Serafina wouldn't work, and I found the name Fina at namenerds.com, I knew we'd found our name. Irish for vine, it's different enough without sounding stupid, and easy to pronounce. Done. 


So, Fina it is. I think it suits her, don't you?



 

If you or someone you know is on the hunt for a name, here are a few sites I found helpful:

http://www.namenerds.com - Irish, Welsh, Scottish, and other unique names. 
http://www.babynames.com/character-names.php - A great page from babynames.com, on naming fictional characters.
An interesting article Concerning the name Fiona

Just for fun:


And, Finally, when doing all of this searching around for names and their meanings, I came across this YouTube video of a band called Late Night Alumni performing their song, "What's in a Name?" The singer has such a beautiful voice, and the topic was so fitting, I thought I'd share it with you. I think artists nowadays need all the help they can get, when trying to get the word out. 

Enjoy:

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intense debate