Friday, May 20, 2011

What's in a Name?

"That which we call a rose by any other name would smell as sweet."
We are all familiar with this quote by Shakespeare from Romeo and Juliet and what it really means; that the names of things do not matter, only what things are and while I agree with Will, I have to say that a person’s name often defines who they are and in my opinion, holds the power to shape their self-esteem and identity and sometimes, even influences how they are seen and treated by others.
Ok so why do I bring this up? Why do you think? Think its easy to go through life with a name like Alya? On the surface it has in no way hindered my self-esteem and I think that aside from an occasional good/evil Alya, my identity is intact but deep inside it’s another story. Most people can’t pronounce or remember my name and what ends up happening is that after many introductions and even conversations they either avoid me or, butcher it so much that it sounds nothing like the 4 letter word that it is. There is no “I”, there is no “H” there are no additives or preservatives in ALYA!
The power of a name and its value has long been immortalized in prose, poetry, and religious ceremony and mine is no different. Everyone recognizes himself or herself by name and although my given name is Алёна and ironically, a very common Russian name, I’m most certainly attached to Alya. As a matter of fact, my parents named me after a famous Russian song titled, Алёнушка and I was given the name Alya after the Hebrew word Aiyah, עלייה meaning "ascent" when we immigrated to America and that most certainly is very meaningful for me because Aliyah stands for the immigration of Jews to the Land of Israel (Eretz Yisrael).
There have been many studies conducted on the effects of names on one’s character and there is a belief that names affect everything from a child's self-confidence to their grades in school and, in future professional success. "Studies have shown that names do set up certain expectations and can influence people who put a lot of weight on first impressions…that elementary school teachers tend to grade students with unusual names more strictly than children with common names." So when it came to naming our son, we thought long and hard and chose Jacob so that he could in the least, start with a clean slate.
But in this era of diversity and individual style, when Madison is one of the ten most popular names for girls and an Israeli couple naming their daughter "Like" after the Facebook Like button, Alya is not that unusual so people please, it’s A-L-Y-A…not too tough to spell, not too difficult to remember and although may take a bit of work, not too demanding to pronounce so don’t suggest that I come up with a nickname or pronounce it differently but take the time to learn it and say it right cause next on my agenda is to drop the Sherman and be known as just Alya…take that Madonna!


  1. Totally agree with a name shaping a person for the rest of their everyday life. Sometimes I see professional athletes and their catchy names and wonder if their parents named them with that in mind. :-/

    But, I always wondered why some actors give their kids some names, I mean, do they wonder how other kids will handle them in school? (Coco, Apple, Dweezil, Moon Unit, etc.) I don't know. Just makes me wonder. :-|

  2. Jut read this!

  3. I have been reading your blog for a few months and am lovin' it! I treat myself during my work breaks and read older posts to catch up. (-:

    I am 6 months pregnant and struggling with a baby name, too. Alya is a beautiful name! It turns out that I have been pronouncing it wrong in my head all along. What does your middle name mean?

  4. Wow, thanks so much for reading and for your message. My middle name is my maiden name and I have been told that it is after a town in Azerbaijan that no longer exists...need to look into the facts about that so more as i haven't been able to confirm this. Congrats on being pregnant, do you know if you're having a boy or girl? Alya is spelled and pronounced so many different ways that no matter if and how you chose to use it, it will be great and, based on my experience, most likely mispronounced and misspelled but...great!
    Thanks again and keep the comments coming!
    Good luck and please keep in touch...I want to know what name you decide on!

  5. Thanks so much for responding!!

    Oops. I have pregnancy brain! ( I don't know how they tolerate me at work anymore :/ ) After rereading my message, I can where I messed up. I meant to say that the meaning behind the name Alya was touching. I was TRYING to ask what your middle name was, and what type of meaning it held. I am probably making this so much harder on myself than I need to, but I want to find THE perfect name. And the underlying meaning is important to me. Which town is your last name tied to? (I had to look up Azerbaijan.) I wish my last name had an interesting history behind it. No such luck.

    Baby GIRL! Thank you for asking.

  6. So far I haven't found the meaning behind it so it could be one of those family tales parents like to tell!? I will find out though...
    Alya has a lot of meaning in many languages and my great aunt's daughter (not sure who she is to me, second cousin?) named her daughter Aliya after me...I was so touched!
    Have a great day!


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