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A Rose By Any Other Name……

My dear friend in New Zealand is expecting her second child and has started the mammoth task of trying to decide on a name, I’m sure it will be quite striking, her first is called “Aslan” as in the eponymous Lion from “The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe”. So far we have Blaze, Phoenix and Gregory on the table. I’m quite excited to see what is settled on.

It’s not an easy job to pick a name for someone, it’s something that they have to live with forever after all. For me I wanted something that I thought couldn’t be turned into a nasty play ground rhyme, but also something different. As it happened the name “Alice” was everywhere when I was pregnant, but it seemed like a nice English name, one of Queen Victoria’s children was named “Alice” and Mr Libby had no arguments. I still needed something different for my little face though.

I lived in Hong Kong for five years and learnt a little Cantonese in my time, this is what helped me decide on “Mae” it’s not Chinese but from memory “May” or “Mai” is quite commonly used as a girls name in Asia.

I wanted her to have something different but also similar to my mum’s name, my mothers name is “Mavis”…or at least it was when she was alive. My mum was quite often called “Mave” for short so I did away with the “v” and we ended up with Mae. My best friends name is “Emma” so it’s also in part for her. Finally I checked to see if there was anyone famous with the name of “Mae” and found “Mae West” She coined the phrase “Is that a gun in your pocket or are you just happy to see me?” along with many other’s. So clearly a strong, intelligent and confident character, what better middle name for my little girl?

I have now started looking for a middle name for my next girl. I originally wanted her first name to be “Lilly” and her middle name to be “Rose”. It has since occurred to me though that as “Alice” has a slightly unusual middle name that “Lilly” Should also have one. So where to look for inspiration?

I have a friend who lives in Japan and I have always been interested in Japanese culture so thought that I would find out what “Rose” was in Japanese, as it turns out it is not a good choice as the Japanese pinyin for “Rose” is “Bara” which has many negative connotations. “Bara” the Japanese word for rose, has many reasons why it is not suitable for a girls name.
1. The sound “Bara” has the other meaning of “apart”. The sound of the word “bara” reminds us of something unlucky “barabara” (broken to pieces) or “barabara satsujin” (torso murder). “bara” also reminds us of rib (bara-niku), and the sound is also similar to “baka” (fool)

2. Roses are of Chinese origin for Japanese people. The kanji characters for “bara” are very complicated and not used for other words in Japan. The word “bara” is a Japanese word (not from China), but many Japanese believe the word originated from China not only does it sound strange as a Japanese word but also the kanji charactors for the pinyin “bara” is not common in Japan.

3. The meaning of the Japanese word “bara” is from “ibara”, that means “thorn”. The word therefore is not good for someone’s name.

4. Roses remind most Japanese of “thorn” or “sting”. The poetic expression of rose in Japanese are the Chinese word “kei kyoku ka”, which means “sting flower”. Of course it could be a kind of irony to call a girl by the name of plant that has sting.
There’s a Chinese old story of “kei kyoku ka girl” (荊棘花) related to very famous story of “臥薪嘗胆” (“ga shin shou tan”, “wo xin chang dan” in Chinese).…

So I thought I would look to see what “Rose” was in Chinese as a girls name. I was highly amused to find out it is “Luō sī”, I haven’t been able to find a pronunciation of it yet, but I’m assuming it might be close to the English name “Lucy” which is my cousin’s name, my husband’s past grandmother’s name and my friend in Japan’s little girls name. Which at the time I told him I didn’t like :)

Can I get away with Lilly Luō sī Brickland…. Quite a few “L’s” there. I might have to play the labour card :)

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