8/15/12

What's in a Name?

"What's in a Name?
That which we call a rose by any other word would still smell as sweet."
When Shakespeare wrote these words, he was referring to star crossed lovers in which their name was in fact that only reason they could not live as one. For me, this quote  resonates with me quite differently.
I was born Caelan Moore Hughes. 
Hughes, because of my father and the long line of Hughes' before me
Moore was my Grandmothers maiden name and my fathers middle name.
And My first name is Caelan for many reasons. 
Caelan (Kay-Lin) phonetically sounds like the combination of all my sisters names, (The "k" sound from Kelsey, the "ayle" sound from Hayley and the "n" from Devon)
But also because it was a good Irish name. My mother told me as a child that my name was Gaelic and it meant "from the forest," and that I was a faerie. Genetically speaking we are Irish, English, Scottish and Welsh and as you know I recently visited all those places on a "trek to the motherland" click here which gave me great insight into the culture from which my family originates, but one thing I gained great insight one was my name.

Growing up I was the only Caelan I knew, to this day I am the only Caelan I know, I've met one "Kaylin" but she did not have the same genetic makeup and her name was one of those made up ones where her parents combined there names of "Kevin" and "Kaylie," which is not my name...at all. Besides that point, I was raised in a culture that is not that of my own, genetically speaking. I was raised in an asian/pacific culture occurring on the island of Oahu. And while I wouldn't give up my childhood and the extreme asian influence in my life that has become my culture, I needed to learn more about my roots.

When googling my first name, I am bombarded with over 583,000 hits full of different pronunciations, different meanings, and randomly always tons of babies, its as if people named Caelan don't grow past the age of 4 (google image it). And its safe to say that the internet overwhelms me. One thing that I learned from the intertubes is that there are many meanings but the most common, despite what my mother told me, is "slender and fair..." we'll I'm small and fair so thats pretty spot on.

I was called "KK" for the first 12 years of my life because my sister couldn't pronounce my name as a baby and in general, children had an easier time pronouncing it. Then when I was 11, I made the conscious decision that I wanted to shake the nickname that was most associated with me, I was going into middle school and I wanted to be taken seriously goddamnit. Little did I know that KK is actually much easier for the general public to understand. I couldn't tell you how many times the people at Starbucks have misspelled it, how many times substitute teachers have mispronounced it or how many times I've had to introduce myself as "Caelan, its like Caitlin but without the 'T'."

So when we arrived in the motherland, I knew that I had to really discover more about my name.
I searched high and low asking many people from all over the UK how to pronounce my name because  since my name is so uncommon, I wondered, what if I've been called by the wrong pronunciation my entire life. This lead to a minor existential crisis.
The pronunciation results I got were inconclusive ranging from:
Ka-lan
Cal-in
Key-lan
and even
Cla-ne

I was left distraught, have I been pronouncing my own name wrong, has this subtly changed my life?
Then while on a mini-plane from Scotland to Ireland I had a good think about it, what would it matter if my whole life I've been called something else. My name does not make my blood, that of a United Kingdomer, My ancestors left their prospective countries hundreds of years ago, and its the history of my lineage that makes up my culture.

To be honest, I know deep in my heart that this is a culture that I am a part of, despite where I grew up, I am connected to Ireland, England, Scotland and Wales through my blood, freckles and name. Through the strife and triumph of my ancestors, to even my acquired taste to Haggis and love for RiverDance.

While eating a mini pie and walking through the streets of Dublin we came across a little store that specialized in tracing your ancestry. My mother got these framed photos of our last name and its origin.  Right before we left I turned to the man who worked there, who specializes in Irish names and asked him, "How do you pronounce the name C-a-e-l-a-n," and he looked back at me and said, "Kay-lin sounds about right to me."

I was elated. Even though I know that its not my name that makes me who I am, I think that my name is more than just an empty word. My name has history, my name is magical and my name has a lot of meaning past its mere definition.
I am
 Caelan Moore Hughes. 
Slender, fair and from the forest.


What does your name mean?
How did you think my name was pronounced?
Have a wonderful day and please keep it sassy,
xoxoxo
Sasssquatch

3 comments:

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  2. This was super interesting to read ^_^

    I thought it was pronounced 'Kay-len' which was pretty close :P
    Also, it is the cooliest and prettiest name I've ever heard.

    My name is Artemis, as in the Greek Goddess of hunting :3

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  3. This is so interesting!! i thought your name was pronounced as 'See-lan' which is waayyy off hahah. my name's Anastasya (tasya for short) which i think means resurrection. i was named that because my mother was reading a book about the Russian princess, Anastasia at the time..

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