...By any other name

June 18, 2004

You will notice in this week's Valley Sun numerous lists of students graduating this week from elementary, middle and high schools in the Crescenta Valley.

In our quest to print those lists, modern technology largely failed us. Almost all of them had to be typed, and as it turned out, they had to be typed by me.

I faced this task, trying to see the bright side that at least it would be good typing


Before long I remembered how much I love people's names. I come from a long line of interesting names. My grandfather was named Fay. He married a woman named Jewel whose sister is named Ruby. On the other side, my grandmother, Euel, had a sister named Odie. Oh, and there's a distant cousin named Oral Roberts, but that's a different story. The thing is, with such interesting names in my background, I'm fascinated with other people's names. Some are fun to say. Some are funny. Some are unfortunate.


A decade ago, some friends and I started a list of all-time greatest names. We included famous people and people we've known-names that were funny, unfortunate, or fun to say. Our most important criteria was that the name had to make you notice and smile: Cubby Broccoli, Russ Nuss, Chandler Chandler.

This week, I started typing and before long, I was having fun. "Listen to this one," I'd say to my patient co-workers. "Ooh. Here's a good one."

As I typed I wondered if kids with identical last names were related. Could there be two different Avanessians at Crescenta Valley High School, or were Leena and Lyna Avanessian twins? Jamie and James and Jessica Salkin-Martin at Fremont turned out to be triplets (I double-checked the names).

I marveled at the various spellings of similar names: Kasparian and Gasparian; Kirakosian and Kirakosyan; Macdonald, Mc Donald, Mcdonald.

I felt pity for the kids whose names were identical to others in their class. Fremont has two Alexandrias graduating. Lincoln has two David Kims. Rosemont has two Esther Kims, two Jessica Kims, and two Jennifer Lees, as well as a John, and two Jonathan Lees. CV has two Brian Kims.

I wondered how kids felt going to school with someone whose name is maddeningly similar to theirs: Valley View has a Jenny Joo and a Jin Joo. Rosemont has Soo Eoun Park and Soon Young Park, Eric Dae Choi and an Eric Murphy Choi, as well as Hye Young Yoo, Jun Hyung Yoo, Judy Yoo and Yun Ji Yoo. CV has the improbable Ha Na Im and Na Ra Im.

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