14 February 2009

Weekly Geeks 2009-6: What's in a Name?

This week's Weekly Geek Challenge
    For this week's edition of Weekly Geeks, we're going to take a closer look at character names. What are some of your favorite character names?

    Go to Google or a baby name site like this one or this one, and look up a favorite character's name. What does their name mean? Do you think the meaning fits the character? Why or why not?

    If you'd like, look up your own name as well and share the meaning.
One of my lessons early in life is that your name doesn't always match it's meaning.
Like most people I was named before my parents really got to know me, with names basically chosen before I was born: Kerrie Ann
By rights I should be dark-haired and graceful
    Origins: It's source is Ciaran, an Irish Gaelic name meaning "Black-haired."
    Popularity: The name Kerrie ranked 1231st in popularity for females of all ages in a sample of the 1990 US Census.
    Though this name has fluctuated in use, it has been quietly present throughout the last century.
But sometimes in our reading, the real meaning of a character's name escapes us, particularly if the inference is a cultural thing.

Last year I read THE GIRL WITH THE DRAGON TATTOO by Stieg Larsson. What I missed, because I am not Swedish, and was not brought up on a diet of Pippi Longstocking, was the significance of the name of the main character Mikael Blomkvist.
Since then Dorte at DJs krimblog has pointed out that I am not on my own.

Dorte writes
    I surfed various blogging communities and realized that British crime fiction fans were busily discussing Stieg Larsson´s trilogy. I joined in, posted some comments on his use of Swedish author Astrid Lindgren, saw that people were interested, and wrote my own posts on the subject (Stieg Larsson & Bill Bergson plus Lisbeth Salander alias Pippi Longstocking).

    and further... on the first page of chapter one it is clear that Stieg Larsson deliberately draws parallels to Astrid Lindgren´s trilogy about the boy detective Kalle Blomkvist...

    First a short quotation from an email sent from Stieg Larsson to his Swedish Publisher: "I have tried to swim against the tide compared to ordinary crime novels. I wanted to create main characters who differ dramatically from the ordinary crime characters. My point of departure was what Pippi Longstocking would be like as an adult. Would she be called a sociopath because she looked upon society in a different way and did not have any social competences? She turned into Lisbeth Salander who has many masculine features."
I am indebted to Dorte for this insight. It is a lesson that translation does not give us all, isn't it?


Dorte H said...

Oh, I really got my 15 minutes of fame there, didn´t I ;)
I am glad I enjoyed it while it took place. LOL

But Kerrie, what really came out of that discussion was that I found dozens of people who enjoy reading and discussing the same books as I do. And that is something I appreciate.

gautami tripathy said...

Very interesting. It makes us appreciate the books even more. I will go visit Dorte!

PK the Bookeemonster said...

Names -- I'm a Patricia though I don't use it much. I found out that mine is the 6th most popular name in the 60s (when I was born). Lisa is the number one name -- also my sister's. Mom & Dad stuck with the trends here!

The WORST current name I've ever seen is Abcde. Yes, the alphabet but pronounced like "rhapsody" without the "r".

When I worked at a bookstore 20 years ago, all those monthly romance novels were still in the stores and those that didn't sell by a certain time had to be stripped and the covers sent back to the publisher. The names on these romance novels would either make you cringe or go into giggles.

Happy Valentine's Day!

Maree said...

Fascinating insight _ now I really have to add that book to my want-to-read list.
I have a brother called Kieran who was dark-haired before he started losing it all ...
Happy Weekly Geeks :)

pussreboots said...

I haven't read The Girl with the Dragon Tatoo but I probably will someday. My entry is here.

Gavin said...

Kerrie, it's actually a raven. I have a thing about big birds. Love your cockatoo.

I found Dorte's post really interesting. I'd picked up the Lisbeth/Pippi connection but have never read the Kalle Blomkvist books.
They are now on my TBR list! Along with the next Larsson book.

Anonymous said...

A thoroughly fascinating discussion. :)


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