This thing with names…

December 10th, 2004 Comments Off on This thing with names…

I don’t think my name is that complicated, but that doesn’t prevent people from misspelling or mispronouncing it. A heritage, I think, from the way the history began.

My name has a funny history behind it. My mother had this boyfriend whose name was Ronaldo. The guy wasn’t the man she dreamt of and their affair was rather brief and, according to her, very unpleasant at the end. Anyway, when I was born, a few years later, she told my father when he went to name me legally: “You can name him anything you want, except Ronaldo.”

Inevitably, Ronaldo I am. My father, to this day, can’t explain what happened.

Maybe because the way the whole thing started, I’m fated to have people mixing up my name every time I was introduced to them. I am often forced to repeat my name endlessly as people don’t seem to remember it after a few minutes.

Once, when I went camping with a large group of people from various churches related to mine, I started the four-day camp being called Ronaldo. In less then twelve hours, my name had been changed to Reinaldo. From Reinaldo, it became Renoldo, via an American who wasn’t able to pronounce it correctly. From there, things went downhill. In two days, my name got changed again to Rodolfo. If it could change so much, I wasn’t surprised when it finally morphed to Adolfo. After the four days, that became my de facto name for most of the people there. People thought I was joking when I said my name was Ronaldo. (For the skeptic readers, this is a true story.)

I can understand the change from Ronaldo to Reinaldo. Both are forms of the Germanic Reginold (which means he who rules by the advice of others). From Renoldo (which is similar to Reginold in a certain way) to Rodolfo, however, the distance is much bigger. But if it can bridge this gap, it can surely change further. Rodolfo (famous wolf) is not that different from Adolfo (noble wolf).

Among foreigners, Renoldo is my most common name. But there is also Rolando, which tends to morph into Orlando. Since they are forms of the same name (meaning famous land), it’s easy to understand why. But I’m not an errant knight, and I’m neither Rinaldo nor the Furioso.

Nicknames are trick too. When I was a teenager, Ronaldinho was at his best, young and fast, still playing in Brazil. Predictably, people used the same nickname for me. Considering that I more liable to kick legs than the ball when I’m playing soccer, people probably were dropping subtle hints about my appearance with this nickname.

Ronaldão, the superlative form of my name, came after marriage. I have this nagging feeling that it may have something to do with the constant growth of the circumference of my belly.

That’s why my son’s name doesn’t start with an r.

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