Wednesday, July 19, 2006

Names dilemma, part 2

I walk my dog, Chloe, in a cemetary park near my house. I know it sounds weird, but the Forest Hills Cemetary is my favorite place in Boston--it has a lake, sculptures, and lots of neat flowers and trees, as well as graves that date back to the 1800s. And some literary figures like Anne Sexton and ee cummings are buried there. I was walking there this afternoon and I started reading the names off the gravestones. Doing so made me think about my characters' names, and, per FC's brilliant idea, I thought I'd post some names I was considering in the hopes that readers would give me feedback about what you thought of when you heard the name. Here we go:

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ian russell said...

William is an old name, universal - Guillaume the first of england (1066), the norman conqueror! Strong, kingly. Prince William, the housewive's choice! Also Shakespeare, of course.
The diminutive, Bill, is less grand though we have associations with Clinton and Gates. Billy is friendly and fun - probably associated with comedian Connolly, but Willie is absurd!

Sophia is romantic - latin. (is it Soph-ay-a, or Soph-ee-a? I prefer the first) Italian Sophia Loren! Sounds noble - A Countess maybe. Sophie is more like a silly child or naive woman. (oops, I hope your not Sophie - but if so, you could change my opinion. it's only a name after all).

Elizabeth - also associated with monarchs. Biblical, John the B's mum. Quite old fashioned thesedays, more of a middle name possibly used by family tradition. 4 syllables! I think one too many, dawdles on the tongue, mouth working overtime - Many diminutives - Liz, Lizzie, Beth, Bet, Betty. Beth's okay, the rest I wouldn't want to be lumbered with.

FatCharlatan said...

I'm writing this before I look at the previous poster's comments, so as not to taint my take on these names:

William--as "William" I picture someone roguishly (sp?) handsome...i.e., he gets away with a lot because of his good looks (a la Dorian Gray). William is educated, as opposed to "Billy," who is young and uninitiated (is that a real word?) into the ways of the world. William works hard...has a good job...probably married with kids...but the "stiffness" and formality that the name evokes suggests that there's something under the surface...the difference between "William" (what his mother and his wife call him) and "Will" (what his mistress or lover calls him).

Sophia--Sophia is beautiful, though young (in my mind, anyway, which is odd, since it is an old-fashioned name). Sophie is what her lover uses to tease her with...the same name her Daddy used when she was little...but now, she's all grown up and "worldy" (at least, she thinks she is). Black eyes, black hair, porcelain skin...a secret on her lips...Sophia... logical and strong...her name evokes images of queens and then someone with a Yankee spirit and good sense. Elizabeth is down to earth while Sophia is the dreamer...Elizabeth does her homework...she gets it done early....Sophia sits with a blank page before her for hours and the same time, Elizabeth has a softer, gentler, romantic that she doesn't show too often, but when she out! (Think Elizabeth Bennett!)

Those are the images that come to my mind when hearing those names right now.

I love all three names and most of the nicknames associated with them.

Bug said...

Thank you both! This is very interesting!