A Rose By Any Other Name

One of Shakespeare’s most famous lines is “A rose by any other name would smell as sweet…” Juliet says this as a defense that she loves Romeo regardless of his family name; that she loves Romeo the person not Romeo the family rival.

It’s a sweet sentiment but it has me wondering, do names matter? I read a study that said people with hard to pronounce names are more often not hired than people with common names.

The paper gave some possible reasons why including that HR staff might hesitate to hire someone with a unique name because it might effect team spirit when people struggle to call someone their proper name.

Speaking from personal experience, I know I get awkward around someone if I can’t pronounce their name easily.

Also, I know I find people more attractive if I like their name. My first boyfriend was named Mike, so I tend to find Mike/Michael attractive. Conversely, my brother’s name is Alex so names like Alex/Alexander/Alec are instant boner-killers.

Furthermore, some names have historical meanings. Derek (one of my favorite names) comes from a Celtic word meaning leader. Knowing that, whenever I read about a Derek I wonder if he’ll rise up to the challenge and save the day. 

According to Greek mythology Cassandra could see into the future. Does that mean I should name my clairvoyant character Cassie? 

But to cloud the question even more, what about spelling variations? Derek is a leader but what about Derrick? Is Sarah better than Sara? Josef is a name of a former Nazi; Joseph is not.

Names might not matter – it is the person underneath the label that determines if they’re likable or not. But it does make me wonder, would I be a different person if my name wasn’t Joe?


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