TODAY -

What's in a name!

Robert Moirangthem *



"My name is Khan, and I am not a terrorist!" Though I have not watched the movie, I am pretty well aware of the theme and the context to which it relates. Simply put, I may say stereotyping a name.

I didn't even know that there is a religious connotation associated with a name, particularly before I stepped out of my home state. That's when many had asked me with confused looks, further intensified with creases on the forehead, "Are you not a Christian?", "Isn't 'Robert' a Christian name?". Then, I reiterate to them my over-the-time standardized answer which is "No, I am not, and I don't know why it was so given."

So, I decided to dig and delve into the meaning and history of this name which has confused many into perceiving immediately as being associated with as a 'Biblical name'.

Obviously, I googled it, first thing. And, I came across a 'Behind the Name' website which explains the meaning and history of a particular name, in significant yet unreliable details.

There, I found that my name is derived from a Germanic name Hrodebert which means 'bright fame'. Then, the Normans, who were the Vikings settled in northern France, introduced it to Britain, not simply as a gift to Britain, but after crossing the English channel and having conquered the English.

The above little piece of history is important in the context of the external influence on the native culture, among the other profound effects, of a particular region. Thus, the name Robert was given birth to as a result of replacement of the native Old English names by the German cognates.

From the site mentioned, I could also find the popularity of this name and, expectedly, it is quite popular in Europe and North America. Hence, I deduced that the perception of this name which is borne by many is simply because of the fact that the Western world is associated with Christianity, like the Middle East with Islam. And, I cannot deny such connections one develops mentally, spontaneously.

By the way, in the list of 'Biblical' names, I could not find any Robert. Therefore, this association one has can be straightforwardly siphoned off as to this name being a 'religious' one.

All said and done, the purpose I wrote this article is not because I am having a narcissistic personality so as to promote my name, nor that I am perturbed and aggrieved by explaining everytime when one throws to me the oft-heard question regarding my name, but to address the matter regarding the mental attachment of people of interpreting a name to be religiously associated.

Moreover, I do not understand why some people often ask me "Which religion do you belong to?", as if it is going to have a bearing on them, unless they have some intention of establishing a relationship based on the religion one belongs or to check the food habit one adopts accordingly as per one's religion. This seems to confound me.


* Robert Moirangthem wrote this article for e-pao.net
The writer can be reached at robertmoirangthem(DOT)iaas(AT)gmail(DOT)com
This article was posted on November 17, 2016.


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