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What’s in a Name?

Mirinda Osmen

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Everyone has a name. This name helps others define who you are, identify what objects are yours, and lets you know when others are addressing you. This name, that you are given or that you chose, is important.

There is power in a name. Beyoncé. Harry Potter. A name can serve as one’s master status, their ‘defining feature’ with associated attributes. If someone laughs like Fran Drescher, you can get a sense of how they laugh without even hearing their laugh. If someone says that I can do cartwheels like Simone Biles, you should gather that I could cartwheel with years of gymnastic precision, even though I may not have done gymnastics (I didn’t).

A name carries social power, the burden of influence. Voldemort, with his “dark lord” vibe, is so feared in the wizarding community of Harry Potter that he becomes “He Who Shall Not Be Named.” His name, that one word with those nine letters, carries so much of him, so much of his power, that people stopped saying it.

There is character in a name. Erika? Erica? Ericka? Erikah? Whether a name is spelled the way most people spell it or is a unique variation, it helps individuals express themselves.

Sometimes, names can be challenging. Take mine, for example. Mirinda. Upon first read, it may seem to be Miranda – it is not. To me, my name is significantly different from Miranda. A name can mean everything to a person, myself included, and it is important to respect them and their unique name spelling.

Sometimes, a hint of effort can make all the difference in the world. Take U.N.H.’s main form of non-verbal communication, the email. Every student has one. Every single student has one. If you didn’t know, each student has an email. This email is tied to their name, and their name shows up in the email program in its entirety. So, if you know someone’s email but maybe not how to spell their name, take the extra two seconds to see what their name is.

Sometimes, effort is necessary after the fact. In some emails, there is an email signature. This can tell you their name (if you were previously unaware of it) or the way to spell it.

Names are important. Those sending and receiving emails should take care to spell names correctly, as you never know how the individual will respond to you denying their social power.

What would happen if you emailed Voldemort, spelling his name Vouldmort?

Best of luck.

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What’s in a Name?