A Day in the Life

Homeschooling and Medieval Living

The Story of My Name

on June 19, 2014

I recently came across a new blog. It is called the Daily Post. This is idea number five from 5 Posts to Write Right Now. 

My name is Sonja. There are two different versions of how this name came to be – depending on which parent you ask. According to my mother, my dad was smitten with the ice skater Sonja Henie. According to my father, I was named after his childhood neighbor Sonja. Either way, I got a Norwegian name.

There are some drawbacks to this name. There are no key chains with my name on them. I have one, but it was specially ordered. Even then, people would look at it and say “Your name is ALNOS?” Funny. Ha Ha. People usually spell it Sonia or Sonya. I once had a classmate who spelled hers S’onja. That was quite interesting. Then, there are the mispronunciations. It is pronounced Sahn-yu (short u). Most commonly, it is either pronounced Sahn-ju or Son-yu (long o). One of my aunts actually calls me Sahn-dra. That was a new one. But she has always been hard of hearing so I just let it go. Plus, she is a very sweet woman over the age of 90. I figure anyone who has lived that long deserves respect. 🙂

When I became a teen, I joined the Society for Creative Anachronism, a living history group that recreates the Middle Ages and Renaissance periods. As part of creating a believable persona, we all choose a name that could have been used during the period we chose. I chose Ireland in 850 AD. I thought I would choose a name that would not be mispronounced at all. I chose Kate O’Hara. I chose it because it reminded me of my two favorite characters (Kate from “Kiss Me Kate” and Scarlett O’Hara from Gone with the Wind).

I then later found out that the spelling of Kate was not used until around the 1500’s. So I chose the more common spelling for my era – Cait. OK. So now I was Cait O’Hara. Not too different. It stilled sounded like Kate. Everything was good. One thing a member can do is get the name registered with the College of Heralds. This means that a group of historians (who study heraldry and naming from our era) will look at my name and give me information about it. It then gets approved and put onto a roster. This becomes the official spelling for all awards and such throughout our time in the group.

So, I am sitting at the table with a herald. He pulls out his tomes of Irish names during the 9th century. He then informs me that Cait is actually a nickname for Caiterina. OK. I am good with that so far. People can still call me Cait (AKA Kate). Then he drops the bombshell on me…I have been pronouncing it wrong for the last 20 years. It is actually pronounced Koyt. Caiterina is pronounced Koytrina. Darn. That is nowhere near where I started. What was I going to do? The solution was simple – I would keep mispronouncing it. I have been “Kate” for so long and I will continue to be “Kate”. Take that College of Heralds! 🙂



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