Tuesday, June 9, 2009

What's in a name?

A rose by any other name would smell as sweet...
Shakespeare's Romeo and Juliet

We knew from the beginning of this adoption journey that, whatever child we received, we wanted to try to keep her Chinese name. Before we ever saw Xiao Juan's picture, I prayed that the little girl we adopt would have a name somewhat close to an American sounding name so we could keep it. Not that we couldn't have kept any name she was given... but it would be easier for people to pronounce and there wouldn't be the constant explaining of how to pronounce it, etc, etc...

When we first saw Xiao Juan we only knew her as Girl/year/#. Once we found out her name I set to work trying to figure out what her name meant and how to pronounce it, via the internet. My first guess was something like Zhe-ow Wan. (I think most people would guess Wan since Juan it's such a popular Spanish name) I was very tickled to find out that her name is really pronounced She-ow Joo-en. The Joo-en is said sort of slurred together quickly, so it actually sounds very similar to the name Jen! God is so cool! That He would notice my tiny prayer and honor it. And on top of that, the couple from our church that has been helping us, (also adopted a little girl from China through Holt) the wife's name is Jen! I know it's a little thing, but I thought it was neat how God tied those things together.

The only thing we decided to do differently is the spelling of her name. To keep the spelling Juan would confuse people and make them think "Wan". The name Jen is short for Jennifer and means "fair haired, white wave" (definitely not fitting for an Asian girl). Since our other daughter has a G name that sounds like a J, I thought, hmmm why not? I typed Gen into a baby name web search and found that it originated in Japan and means "spring (as in water) or origin, source". At first I got overly excited thinking that it was spring as in the season spring (see first post about her name Xiao Juan), but then quickly realized it meant spring as in water. Oh well... still very nice. We liked it. In Japan they would pronounce it with a hard G like goat but I think it's not too far of a jump to pronounce it with a soft G. So Gen it is! All the kids like it very much, especially Gemma. She's waited a long time for a sister (3 brothers later!) and now she'll have one that not only shares a May birthday, but a similar name as well!


Adrian Roberta said...

Wow! My daughter's name is Gemma! How did you choose the name?

I can relate to the name delemma (although) you've come to a great decsion. We are still up in the air with our Daughter's name: DongPing.