Thursday, September 1, 2011

Personal Lexicon

When people first started blurting out to Dani Kobayashi that she didn't look Japanese -- as though this was a newly discovered fact that had to be brought immediately to her attention -- she used to explain that it was her stepfather’s name. But she got tired. Tired of the question and answer suddenly opening a door into a discussion about her parents and their marriage; tired of people then asking what name she used to have (especially since she'd had two last names before this one, and it wasn’t even a question that could be answered simply); tired of people, usually total strangers, thinking that they could freely and constantly comment on the fact that her name screamed one nationality, while her pale Irish skin and red hair screamed another. If her first father, Itzhak Kaplan, had stayed, would it have been acceptable for everyone to gasp, “but you don’t look Jewish”? Is it any wonder then, that she chose a career in linguistics, specializing in onomatology and anthroponymy, the study of proper and personal names? And what does it mean that she's gotten herself accidentally knocked up by a man named Mark Blake?

First published by Six Sentences in 6S: Word of Mouth

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