Cultural Appropriation of Names?
This is kind of a more serious topic, but I think it's important and would like to know other name enthusiasts' thoughts on it. Where do you draw the line between acceptable use of a name and inappropiate use?
I'm thinking in terms of names that come from a certain culture/religion and may have a significance within that culture but are taken and used by cultural outsiders. Do you think there is even a clear line between a-okay and no-go for names?
I know I've seen references on here to the use of the Jewish surname Cohen being inappropriately (and offensively) used as a given name. Are there other Jewish/Hebrew names you've seen or heard used inappropriately? What about names from other cultures and religions?
Also, being Native American myself, I can't help but grimace and groan whenever I see a name listed on a baby name site or in a naming book that is said to be of "Native American" origin, usually with some stereotypical meaning ascribed to it, too, like "Soaring Falcon" for a boys' name or "Graceful Deer" for a girls' name. There's a lot wrong with this, but here's just a couple problems I have with it. First of all, there are hundreds of indigenous peoples and languages of the Americas, so there aren't any names that are generically of "Native American" origin. Secondly, in many Native cultures, names, name meanings, and/or naming practices are incredibly important. Traditionally, names are not something taken lightly or just chosen because it "sounds cool" or "has such a pretty meaning." Specific naming practices and the significance of names depend on each specific Native culture, of course, but in many it's very important.
So what are y'all's thoughts? Any specific examples? How do you deal with this if you come across it in real life? For example, how would you react if you met a boy (or man) named Cohen? Or expectant parents considering the name Aiyana for a little girl and claiming it means "forever flowering" in Cherokee. (It doesn't.) I'd love to hear what people have to say on the matter!
Mon, 06/06/2016 - 4:48pm