Wednesday, March 11, 2009

What's in a name?

Is one's whole identity in a name? What does it say about where one comes from? Does it say anything about where one goes? Would one be different if named differently? Does one try to escape their identity by using a pen name? I'm sure you all would have different answers to these questions. I have some I'd like to share. Many people who know me as Canan ask me where the name Ayse come from? Well... Ayse is actually my first name and it appears on my passport , driver's licence, identity card, my diplomas, and therefore on my plane tickets, bank cards, on my door bell. Canan has been amputated by officials and only appears as a C. on all these documents. Most people call me Canan because it's how my parents and friends have been calling me for the last 29 years. And for 29 years my name has been transformed to Conan, Chanan, Shanan, Kanaan and so on. I always felt I had a different name outside Turkey. The pronunciation was changing with the geography where it was spoken. The closest to the Turkish pronounciation would be Janan or even Jaanan. I only bother correcting people when they pronounce K, but I don't mind if the J becomes CH or SH. Some friends and colleagues call me Ayse, and most people only need to pronounce my name once, so I never correct the latter bunch. The correct pronounciation would sound Ayshe.... so if you chose to call me Ayse...
Does my name cover my whole identity? Thank God no! It helps understanding my history, it says where my name comes from, and one can guess where I or my family might come from too. As for where I go and how I'd be going if I had another name, I cannot say. I am just happy I have two names I love and that belong to me, because both have been offered to me by my parents.
Since I moved to the Netherlands, it got even easier to avoid the confusion: on all official paperwork you're only asked to write down your "Hoofdletter", the first letter of your surnames. Happy me, I'm now A.C.! My name journey will never end, fortunately.

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