Names and Naming Practices

What a lively English conversation meeting on 20 November 2017 in the residence of Mrs. Manahil Ibrahim Ahmed Ali, the spouse of the Ambassador of Sudan in Germany, with participants from around the world!

Manahil warmly welcomed us with Sudanese delicacies; a short film was shown featuring Sudan’s natural landscape with mountains and waterfalls, amazing coral reef and fishes of the Red Sea, the capital city of Khartoum set at the junction of the White and Blue Niles, and Sudan’s impressive monuments and pyramids of an ancient civilization.

Following the film presentation, we began our conversation on “names and naming practices”, going from country to country and exploring the history behind the names. Traditionally, religious beliefs, cultural identity, tribe or clan, geographic location and profession are key components in our naming culture. Popularity and personal preferences are newer attributes to consider in naming a child.

In many cultures, the desire for individual identification and evidence of ancestry plays an important role. Religious names are well loved. Feminine names often reflect beauty, light, happiness and all lovely traits, while masculine names bear elements of bravery and strength.

It is interesting to know that women in most countries are not required to take their husbands’ family names upon marriage, even well before the trend towards gender equality. In fact, husbands can assume their wives’ family names in almost all societies.

After more than an hour of continuous dialogue among all participants, we realized that naming culture is really not as simple as one thinks and we can learn a lot more from one another.

A delicious lunch was specially prepared for us by Manahil and her team. Linda and Rebekka wish to express their heartfelt thanks to Manahil for her great organization and generous hospitality, and to the participants for contributing to a very cheerful morning with delightful conversations.