Tuesday, November 19, 2013

What's in a name?

Yesterday, the Israeli National Statistics Unit (I'm sure they have a more official name) published data regarding the names given to newly born children in the year 2012. Most of the attention was given to the names given to girls - 850 were called 'Adele', probably in homage to the British singer.

In the boys department, the most popular name in 2012 was No'am! When I chose my name, some 36 years ago, it was a rare thus meaningful name. Now it's become common. Maybe I should change my name again. One of the children living next door is also called No'am; sometimes I hear a voice calling the name and I answer, not realising that the child is being called and not me.

I note - with a certain elitist disdain - that the name has been spelt in the more 'common' form, where the letter vav carries the 'o' sound - נועם. I spell my name with the archaic "holam haser" vowel, נעם. Such is the phonetic character of modern Hebrew; this is akin to the British spelling 'night' as opposed to the American 'nite', or 'through' versus 'thru'.

Incidentally, the most popular girls name in 2012 was No'a (which literally means movement, as opposed to No'am, delightful). Interesting that the most popular names sound almost the same. I note too that No'a is spelt with a vav as opposed to with holam haser, נועה as opposed to נעה.

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