”What is in name?”—— The cliche of William Shakespeare had never troubled me nor had I ever thought of being at variance with it until recently when I stumbled over a write-up of a blogger on nomenclature associated with this old and well acknowledged adage. How great a connoisseur Shakespeare was as a delineator of human soul, I don’t dare to touch upon the issue. But the very cliche irks me when I see the world going berserk for the sake of coining appropriate names for their newly borns.
Writers have put in huge efforts to publish books containing names. The proud father or mother doesn’t lose any opportunity of publicising among relatives to look for some lovely and appropriate names for their child so that they may choose the best from among the best conveyed to them. Purohita, on his part, does his best to approve the name that would lead the child to fame with that specific name. Whether the child gets name and fame is another issue, but the Purohita gets plenty to make his pocket heavier. How shortsighted Shakespeare was to give such a naught to ‘names’!
In the old time, especially in countryside, people used to name their newly borns by associating them to the month or day of birth – ‘Shukru’ (born on Friday) Manglu ( born on Tuesday) or Fagnhu ( born in the Hindi calender month of Fagun). But now such names are rarely found among new generation, and if at all any exists, it becomes the target t of drollery.
I have another point that makes me go against the Shakespearean adage. In fact, we cannot make do without names. No names means having no proper nouns. Now imagine the language without proper nouns, My god ! A world or language without proper noun ! There will be linguistic anarchy and communicative chaos. So we need names irrespective of what shakespeare said. And if we need them at all, why not have best of them?
Names have great significance. If we are not familiar with somebody, the mere name gives us an idea of the fellow. Suppose we hear of some unknown Ram or Ram lal or Ramu, The very neme ‘Ram’ gives us the idea of a person being sedate fellow like the lord Rama. ‘Ram Lal ‘gives the idea of some ordinary man may be dudhwala. ‘Ramu’ gives a connotation of somebody engaged in house keeping may be my or your servant. Now take my name Jagdish, You can perceive that this fellow seems to be having ordinary stature and reputation. But if it becomes ‘Jagdeesh’, the things get bigger many fold and you can perceive an image of god which I won’t prefer to be, though sometime in my humanly pride, I thank my parents for giving me the name which reminds one of god.
The very names – Bengluru, Chennai, Puducherry, Mumbai – have a cultural and historical sense with them. Just pronouncing these names sends us to the social and cultural milieu related to these places. Now why spare Shakespeare, who, having given this cliche to the world to think over, himself chose the most appropriate names for his characters. Cordelia of King Lear Toby Belch of Twelfth Night, Prospero and Miranda of the Tempest and many more are there which have beauty and significance of their own.
So, dear friends, Shakespeare himself was at variance with himself. Names can be perceived as being good or bad, but people in this excessively busy world of fret and fury have no time to perceive the deeds. Perhaps ‘Rose’ will not smell as sweet as it does with this very name. Therefore. I have every right and reason to believe – A bad name is worse than bad deeds.