On names, changing them, and pronunciation

Dorian E. Gray israfel at eircom.net
Wed Mar 5 15:54:58 EST 2003

Johanna said...
> You wouldn't think this would be so hard for people to get, right? Sadly,
> my experience proves otherwise... My name is pronounced "yo-hanna"

Being reasonably fluent in German, this one presented me with no problems
(though I'm still waiting for Kyla to explain how her name can be
> For those of you who've changed your names, would you mind talking a
> little bit about it? Like how you arrived at your new name (as opposed to
> choosing something else)?

I'm fairly sure I've covered this before; those who don't want to hear me
tell it again can just delete this message now. :-)

As you may have guessed, Dorian Elizabeth Gray is *not* the name on my birth
cert.  I was christened Grainne Marie Elizabeth Duncan, and never liked it.
I didn't choose Dorian, though; I acquired it.

I had a name-chain with "Dorian Gray" on it (it was the name of a rock group
a friend's brother was in) when I went to college.  Naturally enough, people
used to ask me if that was really my name, and after a while I started
saying yes.  Then I discovered the "proto-Internet" (e-mail and Usenet on
the college VAX system), and started using Dorian as my "handle" online.  I
met several of my college friends via the email system, and the name stuck.

> I toy w/the idea of changing my name, because
> aside from the pronunciation difficulty here, I am just not v. fond of it.

I had the pronunciation problem too - Grainne is unpronounceable by anyone
who doesn't speak Irish (it's GRAWN-yuh - roughly).  It drove the my host
family mad when I went on an exchange trip to Germany at 14.

> But I have trouble choosing a name that I think fits me w/o being too
> pretentious or silly.

As in my adolescent choice of "Dracula". :-)

> And I feel like another name should be
> momentous--there should be some big reason I'm choosing it--& nothing much
> has pulled me that far. I guess I feel like one's birth name is just a
> name you had no control over, & thus fairly meaningless (although to your
> parents it may have had meaning), but if you name yourself later on in
> life, it better -mean something-.

Well, Dorian means "man from Doris (a Greek island)" which isn't terribly
interesting, but I feel like it's *me*, far more than I ever did Grainne.  I
haven't, by the way, got round to doing the deed poll thing yet; that costs
money and I can more or less live with being Grainne on my passport and bank
accounts and such.

I would say, if you haven't found a name that you feel is "you" yet, leave
your name as it is.  You wouldn't want to go to all the trouble of
persuading everyone to call you Kerrenhappuh, only to decide a year later
that you couldn't stand it!  Maybe you could take up role-playing games,
which would give you a chance to try out a few different names - and get
used to being called something other than Johanna (I turn around
automatically when someone says Fionnuala, that being the name of my LARP

I babble.  I shall stop.

Until the sky falls on our heads...

Dorian E. Gray
israfel at eircom.net

"I beseech you, in the bowels of Christ, think it possible you may be
- O. Cromwell

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