June 13, 2020 16h01
Lockdown, Corona, Covid-Marie…What to think of the names of the pandemic?
Sociodémographe, national Institute of scientific research
A first name is not given randomly. A first name is always loaded with meanings for the people who appoint. It conveys a message that one can try to decode in the light of the context and cultures.
If the names of rare and chosen in contexts that are incidental, such as Lockdown, Corona, Covid-Mary, or Covid-Bryan may seem to us strange, incongruous, even indecent in this time of deadly pandemic, give this type of first names to a new-born may be associated with an act and choice of careless.
Sociodémographe specializing in the study of family paths, I was able to observe how the first names, the crusaders in addition to family names, are part of the logical and of the issues of personal, marital, familial, but also social.
Names and hope
So, the first name Lockdown (“containment” in English) given to a child by a couple of migrant workers blocked in India thousands of miles away from their home, was chosen, according to the father, to encourage people to protect themselves from the COVID-19 and save the nation : “My boy will remind everyone to take precautions against COVID-19, to save themselves and the nation.” (“My boy will remind everyone to take precautions against the COVID-19, to save himself and to save the nation.”)
This name reminds us of a very problematic situation lived in the personal, generational and collective level. He joined in a certain extent the Tsunami carried today by almost 4 400 people in the World, but also one of Victory, which has been given to many little girls at the end of the first and second world war, particularly in France, as a sign of collective freedom found. In their own way, these names bear witness to an important event, marking the collective memory, and which reminds us of our frailties common, but also our strengths.
It is a bit under the sign of this ambivalence (weakness and strength) as the full Covid and Corona given to twins boy and girl, born in India, seem to have been chosen. In fact, despite the difficulties encountered up to the birth, the parents also express the feeling of having won a fight, they want to commemorate and remember their loved — probably to give them and give them strength, when they will be of concern their children. It is, in all cases, what the leaves hear the testimony of the mother : “The delivery happened after facing several difficulties, and therefore, me and my husband wanted to make the day memorable”. (“The birth took place after having met with several difficulties, that is why my husband and I have wanted to make this day memorable.”)
These names remind us that Ebola, given also in times of health crisis. Thus, despite the fears and hardships with which they are associated, these names will also want to echoes of hope.
Some parents may also seek to reduce their fears, their anxieties or their fears, putting the unborn child under the protection of the saint·e·s, deities or characters ” heroic “. Thus, for the first name Covid-Marie, it is likely that the parents have placed the child under the protection of the Virgin Mary, not only as a sign of thanks for having allowed his birth, but also to put it under his protection. He joins names such as Miracle or Imtinane (which means gratitude in Arabic).
Covid-Marie also reminds us of the rites catholics in Quebec, where the acts of baptism, the girls were systematically the first name of Mary and the boys Joseph, to indicate their religious affiliation and put under the protection of these saints. This type of first name “protection” is also found in names, for example, Benedict (whose Latin origin means : blessed and protected by God) or Gillian (whose Greek origin means protection).
The choice of name Covid-Bryan given to a new-born in the Philippines could also express the desire of parents to recall the memory of the” star ” of the NBA, Kobe Bryant, suddenly and recently passed away in a helicopter accident, and want to put their child under his will and protection.
Finally, parents might name their child Covid or a name similar, to entreat the bad fate. This first name could have been chosen to fool the ” evil eye “, as in other contexts already highlighted by several anthropologists, including Christian Bromberger, in his anthropological analysis of the person names (1982), Jacques Fédry, in his article” ” The name, it is the man “, or Cécile Leguy, which asks what it means to names-messages, in an analysis of the people of Bwa in Mali.
Véronique Arnaud noted for its part in a study conducted in Taiwan among the Yami of Botel Tobago, the Austronésiens, that the names chosen for infants were often ” names down “, dépréciateurs, such as “Lazy,” the Effete “, ” the Idle “. What are, say the Yami, “good names” that help to hide from the spirit of the dead. Some parents, particularly in areas of the world where infant mortality rates remain very high, might as well seek to protect their child by giving him the first name of the deadly virus in the hope of making it less attractive for the spirits, and thus prevent his death.
Because for many, to name it is to act on what it refers to, as indicated by the French anthropologist Françoise Zonabend. It is a bit the same as when one gives to his or her child a first name of prince or princess with the idea that this will help the child to achieve great things in his life, or a last name that is considered to be mild or strong, and that should influence the character and destiny of the child.
The first name of the child can be chosen for the picture perfect, idealized, fantasized that the future parent wants to associate with his offspring. Through the child and the name given, the future parents project their expectations and their hopes. Name remains, therefore, an act pre-eminently social and cultural under the influence of the pop-up.
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This text first appeared on the site of the franco-canadian of The Conversation. Reproduced with permission.