When my daughter was born I had to travel 850km to my gynaecologist in the capital of Ghana. I forgot to pack the Irish baby name book I’d been cradling for 7 months. Also some of the names I was picking were names that were not linguistically pleasant (violet is pronounced as violent as the ‘et’ sound is very difficult in my husband’s dialect). Not only that but the other Irish names I liked sounded like boy’s names. Ceibhionn (kay-vuhn) sounds too much like Kelvin or Kevin which are also names used in Ghana. Not good.
I was looking at my daughter on her second day of life piecing together syllables, blends and phonemes and settled on a name that suited both her tribal name and her surname. Ghanaians pronounce it wrong still by clinging that initial A to an E sound. That’s okay. I was more shocked when I came back to Australia to find it was the most popular bloody name of the year.
During my husbands African drumming class the other week a woman, let’s call her Anna, brought along her daughter, whose name is Silky. When my daughter was introduced to her she took it well enough, however later she came and whispered something in my ear and we had a small conversation that went like this,
‘That girl, she’s not a duck is she.’
‘No darling, she’s not.’
‘Okay.’ and she ran off to resume her play with the girl.
Note: We had a duck named Silky that died several months ago and was a favourite pet. Of course, she’d make the connection! 😛