Wednesday, February 22, 2006

Samantics, History, and Nonsencery

The basic purpose of language is to communicate. But occasionally it falls short, due largely to the limited nature of language. In order to function, language must have some limits. If whenever we couldn't think of a word, we simply made up a new one, how could we possibly communicate with others? There would be no way of knowing what new words others had created or what they could mean. (This is why so many parents believe that their teens have stopped using English). However, while the growth of a language must be slowed, it cannot be stopped. For as long as a society is progressing beyond its previous state towards another, whether for better or worse, there will always be times when previous language simply will not suffice, and a new, bold addition to the language must be made.

This is one of those times.

I was talking to a youth from our church the other day (yes, I actually do that on occasion. At least I'm doing better at it now) and I was trying to express the newfound cultural importance of the name Colvin.

9 months before the wonderful Mrs. Rosa Parks made her historic stance against racism and started the mighty gears of the American Civil Rights Movement toward their inalienable goal, there was another. A younger woman, only 15 years of age at the time, also refused her seat to a white customer. She was subsequently arrested. Her story is the same as that of Mrs. Parks, yet it is only recently has this young woman gained recognition for her bravery. And that young woman's name was Claudette Colvin.

So there I was, trying to explain the significance of my namesake while trying to subdue my obvious and rather geeky enthusiasm for historical trivia, when I stopped.

What did I just say?

Colvin is my "Maiden" name?!

Suddenly my mind was filled with a very vivid and disturbing image. There I was, a young Colvin boy, dressed in a frilly pink dress and locked in the tallest tower of a castle, complete with dragon circling precariously.

"This is not right." I thought. "Maiden is NOT the right word".

(For those who do not quite understand, I was indeed born a Colvin, and my lovely bride was a Davidson. When we married, we decided to amalgamate our names into what it is today. Thus Colvin is strictly my pre-marriage name).

So I leave it to you, the blogger community, to enlist into the English language a bold, new word, a word that goes where no word has gone before! Specifically, it must be a word that describes a Man's name previous to his marriage, the same way "Maiden Name" refers to a woman's name prior to her wedding and assumed taking of her husband's name.

What should this new word be?
Me? My money's on "Maxibachlo!" "My Maxibachlo name is Colvin." It references both my previously unwedded state of Bachelorhood, and describes how cool and awesome my new marital state is: Maxi!

Now it's your turn! Comment! Do it now!


JAnie & DAve said...

FYI, For an article on Ms Colvin and her journey, do a google serch for Claudette Colvin.

Sarah said...

Well, there IS actually a word that would fit quite well That word is "prenuptial". It relates specifically to events or situations preceeding a wedding.

But if you WANTED to make up a new word ANYWAY... I'd go for... hmmm...


which is a bit of a cheat, really... just take yet another word for marriage, one that sounds grand, and add a functional prefix. But it works.

Sarah said...

edit: oops. forgot a period after the first sentence. that's what i get for holding down the backspace key.

JAnie & DAve said...

But isn't "Maiden name" a specfic term which applies only to a woman's pre-marriage last name? Why should women have a specific term and men not? Because our culture is SEXIST!
Could "prenuptial" also be used to describe someone's previous home, job, pets, etc. before marriage? Doesn't it mean simply "Prior to Marriage"?

If so, then why even bother with Maiden name? Why even keep the term?

justus said...

Wow Dave! I didn't know that the two of you wonderful people had made your own last name. How intresting is that. I have heard of few men who have taken their wife's last name, but not sure what to call their born name.
Good luck with finding an answer!

Sarah said...

A fair point, Dave. In that case, I'm more in favour of abolishing the archaic term and using something like prenuptial instead.

When I think about it, really, I don't like the term 'maiden name' at all... Its implication is that the woman gains some sort of maturity or something that's entirely dependent on her married status. Of course a woman's life changes when she marries, and i'm not going to deny that for a second, but singles can also become bona fide grown, mature women without getting married, y'know? I'm going to quit rambling now. I think i'm going to go burn a bra or something. Or maybe I'll just go to work and slave away for the man. *grumble*

JAnie & DAve said...

Janie here. Sarah and dave are funny! That's all! I enjoyed the read of the debate!

JAnie & DAve said...

i like burning things too! Wanna burn stuff together Sarah? Like textbooks and spoons?
janie again (overtired)

kelly said...

i always wondered where "colvinson" came from. too much a stranger to ask, so thanks for filling me in! But I have no suggestions on what to name the male equivalent of "maiden" name. sorry!

Jason said...

How about Master name? Since you women are refered to as maidens, and young men masters. Just an idea...

bre said...

In the spirit of "Friends," I suggest the term "Crapbag."

JAnie & DAve said...

Ooo! Or "Banana Hammock!"

westcoastloon said...

DAve, I really enjoyed reading this post. What a feast of language! I remember when you were very small and we used to make-up stories about Arthur and Excalibur. I suspected back then that you were a word-player and a dreamer of dreams. How wonderful to see that you remembered to grow-up without growing-out of the habit.
~ Claire(just over a week now!)

Anonymous said...

Isn't it semantics and not samantics?