“In ancient Rome, having multiple names was an honour usually bestowed upon the most important people—like Gaius Julius Caesar. The fad died out only to pick back up again in Western cultures in the 1700s, when aristocrats started giving their children lavishly long names to indicate their place in society. Similarly, lengthy Spanish and Arabic names adopt paternal or maternal names from previous generations to trace the individual’s family tree.
The three-name structure used today began in the Middle Ages when Europeans were torn between giving their child a saint’s name or a common family name. The practice of giving three names eventually resolved the problem with a formula: given name first, baptismal name second, surname third. It branched to America as immigrants arrived: Adopting a trio of labels became a way of aspiring to a higher social class. Non-religious middle names—often maternal maiden names—gradually became the norm, and by the Civil War, it was customary to name your child whatever you liked. Middle names had started to become more or less official by World War I, when the U.S. enlistment form became the first official government document to include space for them.”
So did my parents intend for “Natascha” to be a baptismal name or because it was a way of aspiring to a higher social class or did they do it because it was as a mean of adopting paternal/ maternal names from previous generations to trace the individual’s family tree?
No, no and no. 😅
Well my parents… they couldn’t decide on which to settle on so they thought that since my Dad has both a first and a middle name, I’d follow in his footsteps (and so would my sister).
My Mum wanted “Stefanie”.
My Dad wanted “Natascha”.
“Natascha Stefanie” didn’t sound good, but “Stefanie Natascha” did.
During my first few years, it was clear that I responded to “Natascha” a lot better than to “Stefanie” so I pretty much grew up as Natascha, with the exception of some teachers and a couple others who I decided to leave at “Stefanie”. Over time, I grew more and more distant from “Stefanie” and regarded it as the formal version of “Natascha”, due to the fact that Stefanie (being my first name) is automatically referred to in formal documents. It got to the point that I barely responded to “Stefanie” unless I was REALLY IN ALERT or when no one else responded in the room and realised that I was being called upon. // I remember the day of the release of A Level results, when Mr Choo had called for “Stefanie”, I simply remained seated, clapping and celebrating the success of fellow batch mates. It took a friend to let me know before I stood up and made my way to the stage. No joke. 😳
If our friendship didn’t start off with a “Hello, my name is Natascha.” but rather through formal means (e.g. working together for an event and having chanced upon each other’s name on a namelist instead of a face-to-face introduction), they’d address me as “Stefanie” for a while until we get close and I’d let them know, “Hey, You could call me Natascha. Most people know me by Natascha, or simply Nat (*pronounced as “nut”).” 99.9% of the time, they switch. To have them address me as “Natascha” signals, for me at least, the start of a friendship. :’)
Growing up with a German Dad, he’s taught me the existence of the formal “You” (Sie) and informal “You” (Du) in German. When people meet for the first time, they address each other either as Mr/ Mrs/ Miss _____ or “Sie”. When they get more familiar with each other, one (usually the older one) would initiate the change to the informal version of “You”. It’d go something like this: “You can call me by <first name>.” As simple as that, a friendship commences. 😊
I do wonder if my concept of name usages stemmed from this aspect of the German language. Probably.
“Natascha” is a lot more than simply ‘a name’ to me. It represents my memories, my experiences – my childhood, my teenage years – my colour and essentially who I am today.
“MY COLOUR” ??? Yes, my colour.
This means that I perceive numbers and letters is associated with the experience of colours. When a person speaks to me, I literally see colours and feel textures. It can get pretty insane during lectures when the lecturer speaks too quickly and my vision gets completely flooded with colours and my skin begins to tingle a little to much for comfort. But covering my ears for a moment does the trick though, so I suppose I’ve got it covered.
P.s. YES, in case You were wondering, I do regard my friends as colours according to their names hahaha my life quite literally is a rainbow, at least as I see it. 🙈
“Stefanie” reminds me of a daisy field – very bright, yellow, white, light pink and somehow cotton-y/ powdery as well. It’s just really soft.
“Natascha” is velvety maroon. It comes across a little mythical and somewhat ‘powerful’ to me. 🔮It was not until several weeks ago when I was conversing with Joana about the meaning of our names, that I found out about the fact that “Natascha” means “to be victorious/ victory”. A little psychic-ish? 😳
On the first day of school here, I said “Hallo, ich heiße Stefanie.”
WHY??? Truth be told, it actually was a moment of laziness on my part – a moment of not wanting to explain to a whole class of (then) strangers why I chose to refer to myself by my middle name instead of my first name.
I didn’t think it’d be that big of a deal, but as weeks passed, and I continued being referred to as Stefanie, I began feeling anxious, troubled and… I suppose a little lost too. (Update: It’s all good now haha I’ve come to appreciate the ‘daisy-like’ parts of myself as a person! 😅)
I was shocked as to how bothered I was about this, so I started looking up on the relationship between one’s name and one’s self-image.
This was how I learned about the “Name-Letter Effect” and how it affects one’s Implicit Self-Esteem, which refers to a person’s disposition to evaluate themselves in a spontaneous, automatic, or unconscious manner (i.e. implicit positive feelings a person has for themselves). It contrasts with explicit self-esteem, which entails more conscious and reflective self-evaluation.
The “Name-Letter Effect” refers to a person’s tendency to favour the letters in their name over the other letters of the alphabet.
It is thought that when a person recognises the letters in their name, they experience positive feelings caused by implicit self-esteem. These positive feelings reinforce the behaviour of selecting things that correspond with the letters in a person’s own name.
The Name–Letter Effect has also been attributed to the idea of “mere ownership”. The idea is that a person feels ownership of their names and initials, causing an enhancement of the attractiveness of the owned object, i.e. the name.
I also read an article about a lady who changed her name because she didn’t feel very tied to her name and felt like her new name embodied her better. She explains how her new name held more meaning for her and how she felt it had ‘completed’ her. I’d like to especially mention the sections of the article titled “I wasn’t very TIED to my name” and “New name, new me”.
I then realised that this revelation was closely linked to a short post I uploaded many many months ago. It explains a person’s emotional connection to their name.
So there WAS a scientific explanation to my ‘mini distress’. It was merely because I never really associated myself as “Stefanie”, that’s why. I wasn’t nuts. 😅
I just realised… You know how You’d correct someone countless times until they pronounce/ spell Your name correctly? This shows exactly how attached we are to the specificity of the names and how they are representatives of us, doesn’t it? I know how it bothers me a little when my name gets spelled as “Natasha” instead of “Natascha”. NO OFFENCE INTENDED towards anyone named Natasha out there. It is a wonderful name and projects a gorgeous red to me synaesthetically. *MURALI & NUTSBUTTS are the bomb.* Just saying. 😉 Point is, “Natasha” simply isn’t me and hence the slight repulsion towards being referred to as “Natasha”.
Further reading led me to chancing upon an article regarding how badly chosen baby names can lead to low self-esteem, loneliness, a tough time with education and even smoking. This article even stated that most people would rather be single than date someone with an ‘unfortunate’ name…
I quote Wiebke Neberich: “It’s a mostly unconscious process where all the associations we have with a particular name will pop up: from the newspapers, from stories and, of course, from our own history.”
History? Our names have history?
Soooo…. I looked up for the history of my name. 😋 I just HAD to.
I found out that “Stefanie”, which is regarded unique to German/ Dutch/ Danish at present times, originated from the Ancient Greek name, “Stephanos”.
“Natascha”, which is the German version of “Natasha” (Russian: Ната́ша), is the diminutive form of Natalia, which in turn derives from the Latin Dies Natalies, meaning “Natal Day” or “Birthday” in reference to the traditional birth of Jesus. It was traditionally given to girls born around Christmas, even though I’m an end-of-January baby. 😅
As for “Voelker”, I found out that it is an ancient surname derived from the Germanic personal name “Volkher”, which is composed of the elments “volk”, meaning “people/ folk” and “her”, which means “army”. I even found the most common occupations of Voelkers in the past. 😂
Looking up the history of my name was certainly an interesting experience and it somehow made me feel a certain loyalty or even allegiance to my name’s various origins. It’s special to feel a belonging somewhere. :’) Do You know Your own name’s origin? It’d be an adventure to find out! 😇
Why did I change my blog handle? Or rather, why did it include only “stef” initially?
When I first started out, I put “stef” in my handle because it sounded/ looked better than “natinthemaking” – synaesthetically, that is.
Point is, I’m proud of my name as a whole and how it connects me to others throughout history – it provides a better representation of myself as a person. Thus, I thought I’d honour name as an entirety, so *TA-DAAAA* https://stefanienatascha.wordpress.com was born. 💝
I didn’t think my anxiety behind being referred to as Stefanie could have any good come out of it. However looking back, and seeing how my revelations have given me a greater appreciation of my place in history, I can safely say that this was truly a blessing in disguise. :’)
“Remember that a person’s name is to that person the sweetest and most important sound in any language.” – Dale Carnegie