Tuesday, April 14, 2009

A Name is Destiny

I've always been amused by people whose names match their profession exactly -- is this chance, or does having a name so specific draw someone into a particular profession? Upon research, I have discovered that this is a whole area of academic inquiry, looking into nominative determinism. If a name fits but has no direct causal relationship to occupational choice, it is known as an aptonym.

A prime example of this that I have always enjoyed is the chief ornithologist in Quebec, Dr. David Bird. He is professor of Wildlife Biology and Director of the Avian Science and Conservation Centre of McGill University, as well as being a long time essayist and author. There is also a book on jam making in my library written by Jan Berry, which makes me smile. Does anyone else notice this phenomenon?

But, as it is Poetry Month, this is one name I really wanted to share. Although it's her first name in this case, Canadian poet Sonnet L'Abbé really couldn't be anything but a poet, could she? How lovely to have such a name to inspire you throughout your life. Somehow mine seems very mundane... but anyway, here is an example of Sonnet L'Abbé's poetry, from her second collection:


The shyness, the delay to say
I'm thinking, I'm processing,
the silence before the words
string into coherence I can't leave
unfilled, all my ignorance,
the mice scurrying in the maze,
please wait while the images
load, sound saying I'm not

or the coyness, the delay to say
I'm answering, when I'm processing
the first thought into a string of words
less hurtful, less assessing,
less revealing of the blunt fact
of my unkindness, all my interiority,
the scurry to hide it behind my back
please wait while I remember
your heart, sound the safety on a sharp

Sonnet L'Abbé
from Killarnoe
(McClelland & Stewart, c2007)


  1. I had a doctor once by the name of Cure. It always made me giggle when I said "I have an appointment with Dr Cure :D

  2. I went to a urologist several years ago named Dr. Butz. One wall of his office had trophy plaques of deer butts rather than heads - I kid you not. I suppose it was his way of laughing at himself...

  3. "the delay to say"...I just love that line.

    Okay, nothing to do with poetry, but have you read Freakonomics? There is one section where they talk about brothers...one named Winner, the other Loser. Winner grew up and landed in jail. Loser became a cop.

  4. Stefanie - I like that name better than my husband's first doctor, who was named Dr. Hackit.

    Sam - ewww! But funny.

    softdrink - I haven't read Freakonomics, but now I must. Were those their first names??


Thanks for stopping by ~ I always enjoy hearing your comments so please feel free to leave some!