What the HAYnes? What’s in a name?

OPINION – At the tender age of 18, the teenager who was to become the world’s preeminent playwright, aka the “Bard of Avon,” married Anne Hathaway. This means that either Anne Hathaway has aged really well or there is more than one Anne Hathaway.

Note to readers: A bard is a professional poet.  In Shakespeare’s day being a professional poet was considered much more profitable than having a degree in liberal arts today.

One of Shakespeare’s most popular plays of all time is Romeo and Juliet. Samuel Pepys, the Roger Ebert of Shakespeare’s day, wrote that Romeo and Juliet was perhaps the worst play he had ever seen. I have seen Romeo and Juliet numerous times and in many different incarnations and adaptations, and can say without hesitation that I agree … or at least I used to.

There is a good reason why so many Americans fail to enjoy Shakespearean plays like Romeo and Juliet. It seems that one of the prerequisites for being a bard was to speak in a way that people who would be speaking American English would find hard to understand … without taking a five-credit-hour college course entitled “What in the heck was Shakespeare saying?”

It just so happens that I took a three-credit-hour course entitled, “What in the world did Shakespeare mean?” I took this course from a wonderful instructor at Dixie College, the late Dr. Edna Gregerson, so now I am well qualified to interpret Shakespearean plays.

Here is the Cliff Notes version of Romeo and Juliet: The Montegues and Capulets of Verona are akin to the Hatfields and McCoys of West Virginia and Kentucky. Romeo, a Montegue, and Juliet, a 13-year-old Capulet, meet and fall in love and family members start dropping like flies.

First, Tybalt kills Mercutio, then Romeo kills Tybalt.  Next, Romeo kills Paris, then kills himself, and finally, Juliet awakens to find Romeo dead and she kills herself with Romeo’s dagger. By this time, if people are watching the play being performed in Shakespearean English there are usually a number of people sitting in the audience on the verge of following Juliet’s lead.

There is a scene in Romeo and Juliet where Juliet is speaking to no one in particular from her balcony and says: “What’s in a name? That which we call a rose by any other name would smell as sweet.”

I find this ironic because the entire killing sequence could have been avoided had Romeo not been a Montague in the first place, or by Romeo using a fake name at the masque … something neutral and believable like Inigo Montoya.

The value of a good name cannot be over stated, so I urge all parents to use wisdom in the selection of names for their children.

Last year in Utah, “William” was the most popular name for newborn males.  This means that in about 5 years, kindergarten teachers across the state will be shouting, “William, be quiet!” and about five kids will needlessly think they are in trouble, while the one kid in the class named Xander will just smile to himself.

It’s also very important to use standard American spellings for names. Britany is spelled B-R-I-T-A-N-Y.  Using a cute spelling like BRITTANEE, BRITANI, BRYTTNEE, BRYTTANY, BRITTNEY, BRITNEY, BRITIANEE, or BRITANNY, condemns your child to a lifetime of having to spell out her name for government employees, teachers, employers, boyfriends, banks, and others.

Another helpful tip is to not use religious names that could be considered controversial. A mother in Tennessee tried to name her son “Messiah” and Judge Ballew in Tennessee changed her boys name to Martin saying that the word Messiah is a title and it’s a title that has only been earned by one person. In like manner, it’s also not a good idea to name a child after someone with a moniker like Carlos Danger.

One final tip: Before putting a name on a birth certificate run it through a spell checker. It’s really embarrassing when you are sending a text to a girl named Filis with an “F” and the spell checker insists on changing her name to fillies, as I am somewhat confident that most women don’t like to be referred to as female horses.

It’s true that a rose by any other name might smell as sweet, but keep in mind that the girl who said that ended up dead … due largely to the fact that she had the wrong name.

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John Carter
John Carter

John Carter is temporarily stepping in for his daughter, Elise Haynes, as she deals with the wonders and glories of moving. Carter is a well known radio personality who co-hosts the morning show with Marty Lane on 97.7 Big Classic Country (our sympathies to Marty Lane).  He is also known to throw on a good ole country-western dance party and is far too easily amused by lousy George Takai impersonations.

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Copyright St. George News, SaintGeorgeUtah.com LLC, 2013, all rights reserved.


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  • rhoda October 12, 2013 at 8:40 am

    Utah is the state with the weirdest made up names imaginable. Save the weird naming convention for the toy dolls. Girls should stop playing with the toy dolls before getting married and having kids and giving them weird names.

  • philiplo October 12, 2013 at 8:47 am

    Is this still John Carter, as it says at the bottom? Hard to believe, absent any mention of the ACA.

  • Weird October 12, 2013 at 9:55 am

    How many stinkin’ ways do the mormon women think they have to spell their kids’ names? Really! Making up another way to spell Britany does not make your kid unique. It makes your kid have a weird name or a weird momma.

  • Dan Lester October 12, 2013 at 8:12 pm

    This is the lamest piece ever as an opinion piece on SG News. Boo. Hiss. Throwing rotten fruit.

    All as really done in Shakespeare’s day.

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