What’s in a name?

Aimless pondering ahead:

While at the dayjob, I came across the name (Chinese in origin, I believe) “Sin” (Google says it might be an alternative spelling to Xin, but that’s beside the point), and it got me to thinking about character names. Sometimes authors choose very specific names for specific reasons/meanings. Now imagine you come across the name “Sin” – what does it evoke in you? What does it make you think about? Aside from the Chinese meaning (which I couldn’t find), it has the english meaning (which I don’t think I need to explain) and is the Spanish word for “without”. 

Which was the author’s intention? Obviously if there are context clues (like the character is Chinese), then it’s possibly straightforward. But what if it’s in a fantasy world without our-world cultural references? The English major in me is contemplating all the different papers that could be written based on what interpretation you choose—and an English paper is really just a fancy form of reader impression/interpretation. Is the character named that because he bears the sins of the father? Or perhaps she is without sin (hah, see what I did there?). Or maybe there are even more translations from other languages that use those three little letters in that particular order!

Along these lines, keeping to standard (American) names, name choice can evoke very different reactions in people. I’ve seen people say they cannot read a book with their name as the main characters (which let me tell you, happens to me A LOT). Or with their sibling/parent/child’s name. Because we associate that name so tightly to the people in our lives.

And of course, even without knowing someone, a name’s meaning is open to interpretation. Is he named Blue because he’s sad? Calm? The author liked the name? Is she Grace because she’s blessed or because she’s coordinated?

No real point here, just some random thoughts about character names, author intention, and the wide possibility of interpretation. I guess the English Major in me woke up.

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