WOW Dozen: Multiple Perspectives on Names and Naming

By Janine M. Schall, University of Texas Rio Grande Valley

People’s names are one of the foundational building blocks of identity. Whether it is a name we are given or one that we choose for ourselves, names can carry multiple layers of meaning, including culture, history, connections to heritage and family, or an expression of personality. In addition to the names of people, names of animals, plants, and other things can also carry historical and cultural meanings.

Most people have more than one name: a legal first name, one or more middle and last names, nicknames (sometimes multiple) given to us by family or friends, and usernames associated with social media accounts. In addition, many people have a religious name and/or a traditional name connected to their culture. There may be specific naming practices or rituals within cultures or groups and names may change, voluntarily or involuntarily, at different stages of life such as adoption, coming of age, or marriage. Continue reading

WOW Recommends: Book of the Month

WOW Recommends: The Most Beautiful Thing

Illustrated cover of The Most Beautiful Thing depicts a child kneeling by seated grandmother. They are surrounded by flora.There are many things beautiful about The Most Beautiful Thing by Kao Kalia Yang. First, it shares the story of a young refugee from Laos and her grandmother. Then it has richly-colored illustrations. But the most beautiful thing might well be different for each reader. It is an emotional refugee story, a narrative of the challenge of poverty, a theme of acceptance, and a reflection on how beauty is identified. Each can be found in this sensitively told story that evolves from the author’s personal experiences. For me, the most beautiful thing about the book is the intergenerational relationship that reveals a mutual bond of love, respect and admiration, setting this book apart from many others that tell of relationships between children and grandparents. One quote represents the tone of this relationship: Continue reading