Work that name…


nameMy mother always harbored the wish that I’d become an artist of note.  She worked near a store where art supplies of all sorts were sold, so I had early access to clay, colored pencils, sketch books, and how-to books. One day she brought home a book all about carving ship’s figureheads! Hooked, I started carving bars of soap. As for the how-to sketch books, I didn’t see the point in the step-by-step instructions of most of them. If you roughed out a sketch first with all the lines they suggested, you’d have to erase. And every kid knew erasing ruined pictures and sometimes even put a hole in the paper. If I wanted to draw a face, I’d just draw a face. I wouldn’t make an egg shape with lines for where the eyes, nose and mouth would go. All these years later, if I get a rare urge to draw a face, I’ll just draw the face — no egg head first.  But I digress…

cattle-1279One day she brought home a how-to book all about cowboy and rancher brands of the old west — symbols used to keep cattle and property separate at a glance on the vast prairies. There were names and meanings hidden in the simple lines, and I was enthralled by them all. I still remember some of the brands nearly 50 years later: the Rocking R ranch showed an R with rocking chair rockers across the bottom. The Lazy K had the letter K lying face down. The Lucky M had three m’s turned in such a way they formed a clover leaf. That weird how-to book set me up for a life-long appreciation of symbols.  I love symbolic representation. I guess that’s why I’m always tucking symbols into my stories. I get such a kick when readers catch them and write to tell me. Even if they’re never noticed, I know they’re there.  😀

So the other day, after reading that Huffington Post article about which names  were popular in 2013, I started thinking about how to explain how I use names as a writer. Typically, I go for names that give me a layer of familiarity to work with when I create my characters. (Scroll back a bit to my previous post to see what I mean) But names can also be great symbols. Names have meaning.

Occupational names
I’d never given last names much thought until I encountered occupational surnames. My maiden name is actually one of these, and it means woodcutter. Names like these tied the occupation to the person. Here are a few examples:

Chandler = a candle maker
Fleischer = butter maker
Baker = literally a baker
Potter= literally a pot maker
Draper = cloth maker
Faulkner = falconer
Kowalski = blacksmith
Cartwright = cart builder
Fuhrmann = a cartwright
Barber = literally a barber
Fischer = fisherman
Baumgartner = an orchard keeper
Garson = servant
Knight = literally a soldier
Hoffman = farmer
Kellogg = hog butcher
Schindler = a roof shingler
Thatcher = literally a roof thatcher
Mason = literally a mason
Palmer = pilgrim
Sawyer = a cutter of wood planks
Sherman = a sheep shearer

You get the idea. How fun for writers to tuck those nuggets into our stories. Miss Fleischer can be buttering a slice of toast. Mr. Sherman can be wearing a cable knit wool sweater. Mrs. Kellogg can be eating bacon and eggs for breakfast. I do things like this all the time. 😉 Read my novels and see how many symbols of all sorts you can find. I think you’ll be surprised.

Tomorrow ~ more names.

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A place for your old stars to shine 😀

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002xbqkt
Another 100 Things Blogging Challenge! For 100 days, I’ll post something from my chosen topic: Words on the Verge of Extinction. There are 93 entries to come.

Here’s one for today:

Gaudiloquent (adjective common from 1656-1727)

speaking joyfully or on joyful matters

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All through January the RB4U authors are doing interviews. The thoughtful questions are a great way to get to know us. Commenting that day gives you a chance to win a collectable t-shirt. Come see!

Right now the COLD SNOW, HOT ROMANCE CONTEST is on! Three winners will each receive a $25 gift card for Amazon/Barnes & Noble, and split the other prizes randomly picked from prize list. Be sure to check all our pages for news about authors and their books, publishers and their books, and industry representatives. http://www.romancebooks4us.com/

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Exquisite Quills Yahoo Group

First Kiss Wednesday ~ share your best 300 word kiss.
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The Genesis of a Book ~ share the spark that ignited your novel
Author Interviews ~
We’re booking late spring now.

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About ~RoseAnderson

Rose Anderson is an award-winning author and dilettante who loves great conversation and delights in discovering interesting things to weave into stories. Rose also writes under the pen name Madeline Archer.
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12 Responses to Work that name…

  1. I used to have a dr called Dr. Nurse. Sometimes names and occupations don’t quite match. Fascinating post.

  2. melissakeir says:

    What fun! Your mom instilled such a great interest in you and I like that you share it with everyone else, through your blog and through your books!

  3. I love hidden symbolism too, Rose… and glyphs, ancient language, etc. The Hebrew alphabet is considered the language of light. I studied runes and their hidden meanings for many years, and as an astrologer I write in symbols much of the time. The secrets in names is a fascinating subject and I’ll pay more attention to it in future when naming my characters.

  4. Great post. Maybe my married name will be on the next one: Cooper = barrel maker

  5. Sandy says:

    When I was in Germany I learned my maiden name was a tin maker. lol Zinn is my maiden name.

  6. rosgemmell says:

    No wonder you have such a love of facts and such, Rose – well done to your mother for bringing home those books. One of my writing colleagues here in Scotland wrote a great novel featuring a figurehead carver! The origin and meaning of names is fascinating – I knew most of our names in the UK originally took their meaning from the occupation of the person in the past (like many you’ve mentioned).

    • Is that fun? 🙂 I like when the occupation names change with the countries. A name like Baker becomes Bakker, Bager, Pagar, Boulange, Besitzer, Panettiere, Rzecz, Padeiro, Mierii, Panadero, and Pobydd

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