What’s in a Name?

In Romeo and Juliet, my least favorite of Shakespeare’s plays, he asserted that “a rose by any other name would smell as sweet.” Maybe so, but those misguided twits were still dead by the end of the play, and most of us still have strong feelings, either positive or negative, about our own name.

The name Sara wasn’t as common when I was growing up as it is now. My parents borrowed my name from Jazz singer Sarah Vaughn, but opted for the German spelling, dropping the “h” from the end. That was also not as common in the ‘60s and ‘70s, and not only did most people misspell my name, but there weren’t any nifty personalized items like bicycle license plates or keychains available with my variation.

I got in trouble once when my first grade teacher called me “Sally” and I did not answer her. She thought I was being insubordinate. In reality, at age five I was blissfully unaware that Sally was a nickname for Sara(h). However, that incident led to my brothers and sister calling me Sally for years when they wanted to tease me. Much later I named my dog Sally in memory of that incident.

But I still liked my name. I’m glad I wasn’t named for one of my grandmothers, in which case I would be either Frieda or Hilda and forced to go by my middle name (as my mom did), or come up with a nickname.

The name Sara means princess, which I also liked, but which supplied an odd contrast with the meaning of my surname – “hedge dweller.” Surely a princess would live in a castle rather than a hedge! Hmm . . . maybe it really referred to a hedge maze surrounding the castle. Yeah, that must be it.

When I got married, my names still didn’t match. “Princess” and “Deer hunter?” Again, a princess would certainly have someone to slay deer for her, in a manner in which she would never have to witness the process. Fortunately, my husband does just that.

I also became one of at least three Sara Hartmans (or would the plural be Sara Hartmen?) in the Jefferson City area, including my niece and the daughter of my children’s principal. (The principal’s daughter has since married, but we still get mixed up now and then, usually when my path crosses with one of her former classmates.) This plethora of local Sara Hartmans made me wonder who else shares “my” name.

A Google internet search turned up many student athletes (cool!), a substance abuse counselor, a few YouTube videos, and a crew member for The Twilight Saga: Breaking Dawn – Part 2. There is a reference to a joke sent by “Macintosh friend Sara Hartman.” That could be me as I use a Macintosh and do have at least a couple of friends, but the joke, though clever, is not one I would send. There are a myriad of genealogy hits, and plenty of social networking profiles, but no reference to any of my books until page 3. Blow to ego.

Do you or someone you know have an unusual or interesting name? Email me or leave a reply. It may turn up in a future post.


3 Responses

  1. I do not remember calling you Sally in our youth, but you can bet I will in the future.

    Your loving brother,

  2. Hello Sara,

    I don’t know what precipitated me researching this again as I remembered your blog “What’s in a name?”. Actually I think it was one of my co-workers asking it’s origin, he is Serbian and is always inquisitive of others heritage.

    Like you reflected in your blog I remember that the meaning of Schutte was hedge dweller or one that lives near a hedge, but when I was looking now everything that I am able to find indicates that it originates from the occupation of archer as a variant of schutten “to shoot”. While I do not know which is correct this is at least a little more interesting as a story to tell to others than being a hedge dweller. This also aligns with what one of my other co-workers chooses to call me as a nickname, “Shooter”, and no this does not reference my choice in drinks.

    Also, notice above that I called you Sara rather than the other variant that you dislike.

    Your loving brother,

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