I have just discovered that my other blog when turned into Spanish is all about Lisa and her Windy Little Oak Plantation.
At least, that’s how the internet translator Babelfish interpreted my name, since Gale is a windstorm and Garrigues is a region of scrub oaks along the border of France and Spain. This is what we get for throwing our words out in the internet sea: some fish gets ahold of them and then they become unrecognizable. But I was happy that it made me laugh, and it made me reflect once again on names and what they mean to us.
Growing up, I always thought I had a pretty unusual name. “Lisa” which is now over popular, really began its ascent about five years after I was born, and “Garrigues”--well, let’s just say it taught me patience, since no one seemed able to pronounce it. I discovered recently that it’s not such an unusual name after all, since there are two other writers on the internet named Lisa Garrigues. So I added the Gale. In some ways, it makes me feel more complete.
Since Gale is also the name I took one tomboy summer when I was nine because, well, just because, it also somehow evokes the youth and freedom of that particular summer. I knew then that when you changed your name you not only change your outlook but you change the way people relate to you. Though I sometimes envied the simplicity and ease of the more Anglo sounding last names of the kids around me when I was growing up, I have come to value the patience that my windy little scrub oak plantation has given me.
As writers, the art of naming extends not only to ourselves but to our characters. I have rather belatedly begun reading the Harry Potter books, and thoroughly delight in the names JK Rowling (and why did she choose the JK?) chose for her characters and their magical world. Slytherins. Malfoy. (Old French for “evil faith”), Voldemort (sounds vaguely French for “flight of death”). Even “Harry Potter”, a humble yet somehow powerful name, this hairy potmaker.
What about you? How do you feel about your name? What does it mean? What choices have you made about your own name, or the names of your characters?