Saturday 19 January 2008

The child shall be called - Bingo

Chatterbox moi

Did I just spend 171 minutes on the phone to London chatting to one of my favourite cousins?

Well, basically, it is a meeting of minds and ideas, there is never a short call and the amazing thing is whoever gets to the phone first makes the other jealous – speaking to her or her husband who endearingly refers to me as his out-law, time just passes by as the other itches to get on the phone.

We got to one part of our talk that made me laugh and obviously should serve as a salutary warning to those who give their kids foreign names and fail to get it right.

Those strange names

I remember writing sometime ago about the fact that both my grandmothers’ Christian names were obscure Judeo-Christian names dug out of the Old Testament and pasted on their identities by priests who could not mouth the more meaningful traditional Yoruba names.

My parents also have similar names but with my generation, more parents used our traditional Yoruba names as given names for baptism.

My Christian name is Akinola and except where an angel appears to your parents and dictates through prophecy, vision or dream that the child shall be called Bingo (Bingo is commonly given to dogs in Nigeria), you must be at will to give your children names that are meaningful to you, your circumstances and beliefs.

Deb You Are Feel This

So, she talked of a girl in her class who remonstrated angrily and aggressively that her name Deborah should be pronounced Day-Bo-Rah as opposed to the correct Debra.

One cannot really blame the girl for not realising that her Judeo-Christian English name had been given by silly parents who definitely were clueless about the import and pronunciation of the name.

In the end, they allowed the girl to make a big fool out of herself by not knowing how to say her name. In fact, we once had a house-girl with that name; I was the only one to pronounce her name correctly.

Then there was a boss at work in Nigeria whose first name was Felix that should be pronounced Fee-licks but in Nigeria, a majority would say Fair-Licks. At least, he knew how to pronounce his name.

Now, that is not to say my name Akin is that easy to pronounce for non-Yorubas because the N is nasalised – the one time I heard it pronounced correctly by an English lady, I learnt she was born in Ibadan and she had an accent considerably thicker than mine.

There are many more English names that get mis-pronounced but the top prize has to go to Dennis who in Ijebu-land found everyone calling him Day-eh-nee.

Keep off those foreign names if you don’t want to lose your identity and make a fool of yourself.

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