Sunday, October 06, 2013

More about the name

Sterling is not impressed with my attempts to take a passport picture.

Here's the deal with the name we gave this baby boy of ours. As you know, we were having a hard time coming up with something that fit all of our crazy requirements, to say nothing of said name matching our existing family names, etc. I was not exaggerating when I called this a curse - Jeremy and I literally could not agree. When we finally got around to talking about it, it was an exercise in frustration and almost-hurt feelings, even with our non-judgmental Google Doc.

I feel like the breakthrough came when I used my friend Liz's strategy of having us each assign a number ranking to the names on our list. Then we could take a look at the lowest combined totals to see where we really stood when it came to actually giving a certain name to an actual baby. That moved the discussion away from the vagaries of "like"/"don't really like" to "this is a name that I would absolutely give this baby, and this is not."

Once we put in our rankings, our preferences became more clear to each other, and we were able to move forward on a first name. Sterling is a name with a beautiful meaning (pure), and it has the special bonus feature of having an Arabic equivalent that we can use for a short name or even as the primary name, if we feel like it: Safi (SAH-fee). As for where we got Sterling to begin with - a good friend of ours who studied with Jeremy in Damascus is named Sterling. It's not that we named our baby after him so much as that he put the name on our radar in the first place, and he is an awesome person, so we both have really positive associations with the name. Besides him, I've only ever known one other Sterling and he was nice, too. So there you go. Sterling.

Now, the middle name. Any specific wrangling that went on in that arena is our own private business, but yes, we ended up with Sultan, which seems to have surprised a lot of people. It moves ever so slightly away from our using a strictly geographical tribute as a middle name, but it still works. Check it out: Sultan is a regular ol' given name in Arabic, and most Sultans are Emirati, or Omani, or Saudi. So it is a name with strong connections to the Gulf, and the UAE in particular. Furthermore, it is the name of the Sheikh of Sharjah, His Highness Sheikh Dr. Sultan bin Mohammed al Qassimi, so it is a nice tribute to Sharjah, specifically. It is also the name of the ruler of Oman.

Of course, in English, Sultan is a word with a meaning, not a name, but the fact that it is recognizable and pronounceable is an asset.

Most importantly, Miriam got her wish that this baby would have a name starting with S, so the kids together can be "M&MS." Hooray!

11 comments:

Susanne said...

I enjoyed this. Thanks for sharing more about Sterling's names. :)

Suzanne Bubnash said...

Knowing the challenges you were going through because this was to be a boy (and boys are much harder to name), I was almost afraid to hear what he was going to end up with. Was it going to be a mundane boring name to be "safe" or something outlandish and borderline edgy? I think you hit the nail on the head. Sterling Sultan is perfect.

Ariana said...

One of our tv weather guys here in UT is Sterling something. Good name.

Crys said...

Love it!

Unknown said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Britney said...

(That was my deleted comment above. I was signed in under the wrong account.)

I love his name! Thanks for sharing more about it.

Jen said...

Does Liz get a namer's fee? =)

Jen said...

P.S. Count me as one of those Americans who did not know Sultan was a *name*. I love it. (Joe has a good friend from grad school named Blake, and I'd always made a mental note that I loved the name. Similar situation!)

Liz Johnson said...

You have no idea how thrilled I am that my epic struggles with baby-naming have actually produced something good for somebody else. I am so glad that our battles helped yours!!!

Señora H-B said...

I love hearing about the way you name your babies. I also didn't know that Sultan was a name, so thanks for teaching me!

Aimee said...

I think the name is great! Also all the Sterlings I know are really great guys. I think Sultan is a lovely nod to the area you are living and what else are middle names for but to have fun with or name after somebody. Congratulations on a lovely name and a lovely little boy!

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