I have 6 official names. It is customary in Portuguese tradition to give a child a first and a second name. Then the maternal grandmother’s name and the maternal grandfather’s name. Followed by the paternal grandmother’s name, finished off with the paternal grandfather’s name which is also the father’s name. So no one is forgotten.
Modern Portuguese parents are dispensing with all of this and I agree. The “old” way makes it lengthy, and the poor child (and later adult) has to explain time and time again why they have so many names. And official forms, for example, never have enough space for all of them.
My first and second names are the same as my Mom’s friend who is also my Godmother. I was named after her. For many years I didn’t like my first name – Regina. It was too serious and grown up. It wasn’t a little girl’s name. I much preferred to be called by my nickname – Gigi.
When I was born, my uncle, who was a well-known writer, was a fan of the movie Gigi with Leslie Caron and Maurice Chevalier, and decided that would be a good name for the first grandchild of the family. He also wrote a song of the same name and dedicated it to me, which was sung by a famous songstress of the time in Mozambique, Natercia Barreto. I don’t have a copy of this song, it was probably lost when our family fled from Mozambique. I’ve searched YouTube and even though there are songs by Natercia Barreto, Gigi is not there. I have doubted its existence, although some relatives do say it exists. When I find a copy I will most certainly blog about it :-)!
So the name Gigi stuck and I’m only known as Regina academically and professionally.
The name Gigi has also been the source of many jokes – “Ha ha, my dog’s name is also Gigi!”
When I got married the feminist in me decided not to take my husband’s name – I would then have 7 names! I had to write a letter to the government asking that the population register be changed to my unmarried surname, because in South Africa (at the time) it was assumed that a wife would take her husband’s name, without the common courtesy of asking or confirming! You can imagine how this went down well with me!
When I registered my marriage in Portugal (many Portuguese people are registered in the country of domicile and the country of ancestry), the government there asked me how I wanted to be known – so no assumptions were made! I was most pleasantly surprised that my individuality and dignity was considered.
Regina is Latin for “queen”. It is pronounced “ruh-JEE-nuh” NOT “ruh-JY-nuh”. My high school principal used to call me “ruh-JY-nuh”. No matter how many times I told her the correct pronunciation, she continued pronouncing it incorrectly – leaving me feeling mortifyingly embarrassed time and time again.
I have been called many variants of my name – Reg, Reggy, Reginald (I went to an all girls school and we all had male versions of our names) – and have grown to love the uniqueness of my name…Regina.
Featured image courtesy of http://www.dreamstime.com/ (latest stock photos and free images)