Shanequa, LaQuanda, etc: Strange Names among African Americans

Discussion in 'Linguistics' started by madanthonywayne, Jan 26, 2009.

  1. Medicine*Woman Jesus: Mythstory--Not History! Valued Senior Member

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    M*W: My Black girlfriend from New Jersey has four grown sons named John, James, Thomas and Eric. We had a conversation a few years ago about African sounding names of some students we had: LaKeesha, Tawanda, Faniqua and DeShawna. I assumed they were African names, but she told me otherwise. Interestingly, she said were those were made-up ghetto names.
     
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  3. madanthonywayne Morning in America Staff Member

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    Ima Hogg? Holy shit! What kind of asshole would name his daughter that!
     
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  5. Tiassa Let us not launch the boat ... Staff Member

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    Rhythm and "originality"

    The general theme of such names, as far as I've been able to determine over time, is rhythmic. Notice how many of them are short syllables of one or two letters tacked onto the front of a regular name. Jamarcus, D'Marco, and so on.

    To the other, though, I find it a pleasant alternative to another phenomenon in American culture, whereby you give your kid a normal name, but just spell it weird.
     
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  7. madanthonywayne Morning in America Staff Member

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    That is annoying. I'll bet it's especially annoying for the kid to be constantly having to correct people. I remember my wife had 2 kids in her class named Tyrone. One of them spelled it some bizzare way and his mother would go nuts if anyone "miss-spelled" it. She was constantly going off when she'd she one of the papers from the other Tyrone and wouldn't believe it was the other kid's paper.
     
  8. domesticated om Interplanetary homesteader Valued Senior Member

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    I get the spirit of what you're trying to say......but I have a small factual nitpick.

    You mean "Cassius Clay". He chose Muhammed Ali based on his religious and nationalist affiliations, so you're technically wrong. His name was totally what he wanted.

    - at any rate, you're point is valid. Just wanted to post this as an FYI.
     
    Last edited: Jan 28, 2009
  9. Fraggle Rocker Staff Member

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    I know that; I lived through that era. But in the U.S. you're legally allowed to call yourself by any name you choose so long as there is no intent to defraud. You don't even have to have it changed legally in court; all you have to do is get everyone else to call you that, and we tend to be pretty accommodating about it. Only government records like your Social Security card, tax returns, driver's license and property deeds will continue to be in your official name.

    This practice has been fairly common in the modern era among actors and musicians, but in recent decades it has spread to athletes and other entertainers. Archibald Leach was Cary Grant, Bob Zimmerman is Bob Dylan, and Cassius Clay is Mohammed Ali to everyone except the tax collector. His daughter's name is Layla Ali.
     
  10. Medicine*Woman Jesus: Mythstory--Not History! Valued Senior Member

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    M*W: Miss Ima was a delicate and demure proper society lady who gave so much back to Texas.

    http://www.famoustexans.com/imahogg.htm
     
  11. MacGyver1968 Fixin' Shit that Ain't Broke Valued Senior Member

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    Hell yeah!...she didn't let her unfortunate name affect her ability to make an impact. We could use more people like that.
     
  12. MacGyver1968 Fixin' Shit that Ain't Broke Valued Senior Member

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    Sean Combs is the perfect example...he changes his name more often than I buy new shoes. I think he has gone by Puff Daddy, P. ditty, Puffy, Ditty, and I think a couple of others.
     
  13. domesticated om Interplanetary homesteader Valued Senior Member

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    I just meant you were wrong about Clay ever hypothetically liking the name "Maximilian" since he consciously chose "Muhammed Ali" based on his views.

    The spirit of what you were saying was that "Maximilian was the kind of name that Cassius Clay would have appreciated due to it's meaning" .......which also coincides with a few of his historic quotes ("I am the greatest of all time!").
    ....but he actively chose another name "Muhammed Ali" IRL which proves his real preference, so the true context of your hypothetical comment is actually wrong.


    This is all off topic though.....I was just nitpicking
     
  14. mikenostic Stop pretending you're smart! Registered Senior Member

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    I'm white. Should we be called 'European Americans'?
    If you live in America, and you are an American citizen, you are an American. There is no fuckin European, Mexican, Asian or any other prefix before it; whether denoting race or nationality.
     
  15. John99 Banned Banned

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    It is pretty common though. With Polish Americans, Italian Americans, Irish American and Scotch Irish, West Indian, East Indian.
     
  16. Nasor Valued Senior Member

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    How would you suggest people talk about their cultural heritage? I guess I could say "I'm an American of Italian ancestry," but that's a bit cumbersome...calling myself Italian American is more convenient.
     
  17. Orleander OH JOY!!!! Valued Senior Member

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    well, my Dad is from Scotland, but I have never considered myself Scottish American.
    I'm an American. And that is my children's heritage as well.
     
  18. Saquist Banned Banned

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    I'm not surprised...I assumed they were African names too...

    Ah...but atleast you two asked.
    This unfortunantly brings down my perception of the American Black culture...again. I wish I didn't know.
     
  19. CutsieMarie89 Zen Registered Senior Member

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    It's just a part of black culture. Maybe it's just me but certain names seem to be rather common depending on where you live or what sub culture in America you identify with. Many lower class black people name their kids Latisha, Tanifa, or Tyreke. But they only sound strange because their relatively new. Names like Sapna and Tatewaki sound weird to me, but if I lived around a lot of Indians or Japanese people I probably wouldn't think they were so weird sounding. All names are just made up, personally I wish my parents had given me a bit more unique of a name.
     
  20. iceaura Valued Senior Member

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    At one recent time many black Americans were sensitive to the fact that their very names - on top of their language, religion, clothing, food, etc - had been simply pasted on them by slave-owners for the slave-owner's convenience and whim.

    But they had no other source of names - the practical connections with the particular areas in Africa long obliterated, and no intellectual class preserving cultural identity through history.

    So a tradition of inventing names, euphonious and more or less gender-evoking in the aural culture extant, is sort of reasonable.
     
  21. Fraggle Rocker Staff Member

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    Chinese names are not just made up but crafted. You've got your surname of course. But there are only four hundred of those to serve more than a billion people, so you have to be pretty creative with the second and third name to avoid having a hundred thousand William Roger Smiths walking around in the same city.

    The second name is a generation name that's unique to the generation and the family. ("Branch" of the family to be precise; all three million Chinese people with the surname Li are considered to be members of the same "family" and they're not supposed to marry each other.) Your family can choose any of the five thousand common characters; that way your name will be printable. I suppose if your family is powerful they can choose from the entire set of 75,000 and printers will scramble to get the character from academic publishers. Anyway, the generation names are selected about five generations in advance so there's no one alive you can blame if you don't like the one you get.

    Then finally the third name is unique to the individual, and the parents get to choose that one. Again, it can be any Chinese word. Still, 5,000 x 5,000 = only 25 million, so there's still a good chance that you might have a namesake in another city.

    Sometimes people break with the tradition. My Chinese girlfriend and her brother were born in the 1930s, after Japan had started WWII by occupying northeastern China. Her father was a general in the army so for their second name he gave them the word "remember" and for their third name he gave them each the name of one of the captured provinces.
     
  22. Tyler Registered Senior Member

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    I love Chinese names. One of my good friends' name translates as "Master of the Known Universe".

    Some English names have old meanings that are equally hilarious, but usually those meanings are hidden and the name is no longer used as a word in daily function.
     
  23. Orleander OH JOY!!!! Valued Senior Member

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    LOL, an only son?
     

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