Friday, July 09, 2010

Dohicky, Thingamabob, and Whatchamacallit

These are three of the greatest words in the English language in that they say something without saying a thing. Therefore they are universal: "Hand me the dohicky, you know, the thingamabob next to the whatchamacallit." Words have meanings but these stand out in the fact that their meanings are lost in the nebulous.

Hand me the dohicky, however, doesn't get you the thingamabob very fast unless the other is a mind reader. Which could happen. When my wife wants me to give her the thingamabob I generally know what object she doesn't know the name of and can hand it to her based on our 30 years together. But that doesn't get you as far as saying "Hand me the 1/4 inch ratchet with the 9/16th socket."

Naming something USED TO require assessing the character and nature of the things named. In the biblical story Adam named the animals and I don't believe he just called them dohicky, thingamabob and watchamacallit. Genesis 2: 19 says "Now the LORD God had formed out of the ground all the beasts of the field and all the birds of the air. He brought them to Adam to SEE what he would name them; and whatever the man called each living creature, that was its name." (Caps mine) God wanted to SEE what Adam would name them based on the character and nature of each animal.

Many cultures don't name their kids until they are 2 years old. They earn their name once the parents assess the character and nature of that child. To call your child Bob when he is born is the equivalent of calling him dohicky unless you have found the etymology which says: it is short for Robert and came from Germanic tribes to England and means "bright fame". Is that who your Robert, Rob, Bob, Bert is? We don't spend enough time on names and I find to many people naming their kids Thingamabob and Whatchamacallit. In Ancient Egyptian Culture the NAME was a part of the "essence" of an individual. We might have mind, soul, and body as the essence but Ancient Egyptians had five: Body, Shadow, Ka, Ba, and NAME. To abuse the NAME was to abuse the individual. When people were REALLY bad in Ancient Egypt they would scratch their NAME off any carving or hieroglyph and so erase the person.

Naming requires knowing the character and nature of the person. Using family names is significant and good. Naming based on what you HOPE that person will become is also good. Naming a name the just sounds cool is your right and privilege but is the equivalent of calling your child Dohicky.

My parents named me Steven, a form of Stephen and the Greek Stephanos which means: crown. Did my parents name me that so I would become royalty some day? Did they name me that because I was the 6th boy in the family and they were running out of names? OR maybe they named me that because I am going bald and everyone can now see my crown. Yea, that's it.

No comments: