Friday, January 20, 2006

What's in a name?

There is just so much to think about when having a baby. One of those things was what to name our newborn son. A name is so integral to one's identity that this seemingly simple task could not be taken lightly.


Photo: Self-portrait with my son Erich. (The beauty of having a mirror in the house...)

After massive searches on the Internet, and browsing through countless name books at Chapters, we decided on Erich. For those who are interested, we've documented some of our thought process.

Anatomy of a name: Erich Günther Yin-Shun (言信) Ng

Some people have asked why the distinctly German name. As you may know, Karen's step-dad, Hans Stein, is German. But since Karen is the offspring of her mother's first marriage, there would be no biological nor namesake lineage. We wanted to honour Hans in a way that would undeniably acknowledge the role he plays in all our lives. Thus, we decided to spell our son's first and middle name the German way. (More on why we chose "Erich" specifically later...) Moreover, we also decided to name our son Günther because that is Hans' father's name.

Why Erich? Back in university, Karen and I were introduced to each other by a mutual friend, Erick Wong. Since our son probably wouldn't be here had it not been for his introduction, we thought we'd name our son after him. (Psst...He's also an incredibly smart genius - completed his Masters in Mathematics by the time we were finishing our undergrad... so we're secretly hoping that some of that intelligence might rub off on our son if we give him the same name :-))

Yin-Shun. Early on, we had asked my [Jonathan] mother to come up with a list of Chinese names. We wanted our son to retain not only his Chinese heritage but we wanted the name to reflect his faith. One of the things Karen and I had been praying for our son was that, like King David, he would grow up to be a man after God's own heart. We wanted his name to reflect that. In Chinese, yin-shun (yán xìn in mandarin) has a double meaning. The word "" means the spoken word. For Christians, the Lord Jesus was often referred to as the spoken Word or God's Word revealed (John 1:1). The word "" has the meaning of faithfulness or trustworthiness. Hence, our son's Chinese name has the meaning of proclaiming God's faithfulness but also it's a reflection of Erich's own spoken word - i.e. what comes out of his mouth is to be trusted.

So there you have it: the etymology of our son's name.

1 comment:

Rubye Dacon said...

Jonathan and Karen,
Naming your child with such a thoughtful, God-centered agenda is to be commended. This is the sweetest story I have ever read about naming a baby, and what a beautiful baby boy he is.
Be blessed, Rubye
Garland TX