Hello, I'm lauren goff. This is my blog, where I talk about my life in Japan, writing, theology, and Japanese.

 

日本語を話すのが下手ですが、どうぞよろしくお願いします。
 

Japanese Names

I’m writing here again after an almost year-long hiatus. I don’t really have an excuse beyond getting used to the stress of the first year of teaching. That honestly isn’t a very good excuse, and so whenever I thought about it,  felt guilty and therefore uninclined to finish a blog post. However, as Homer Simpson once said, “You can’t keep blaming yourself. Just blame yourself once and move on.” I’ve been trying to live by these sage words lately. Plus, this website costs money.

Seasons change, life comes full circle, and I’ve returned to you again, partially filled with the precious will to write. Fittingly, I just came back from a baseball game, one much like the one I wrote to you about last year. This one wasn’t so inspiring, I’m afraid, so I won’t write about it. 

I have been playing The Witcher 3 for three years, and I still haven’t finished it. I think I may be afraid of it being over. In my opinion, it is an excellent and very satisfying end to the book series, though officially it’s just fanfiction. I need to finish it before my Switch gets here, so I can only be sitting on two video games when I start Fire Emblem: Three Houses. I can really only handle two games at a time. Summer vacation just started for me, so it’s an excellent time to get it done. 

I have finished a chapter of a new book thanks to a writing circle I’m a part of, and I’m quite proud of it. I believe that my lack of time to read and play video games has contributed to my lack of productivity, so digging into some good stories again will certainly help kickstart further writing and planning. I may even write a sequel to the Vampire the Masquerade: Bloodlines fanfiction novella I published in 2017. I have a busy summer ahead of me, especially since I’m taking part in the traditional dance festival and my sister is coming!

Just thinking about it stresses me out. So, instead I’m going to write about a more relaxing topic: making Japanese names.

I’ve always loved making names, ever since my mother told me about how she chose my name. In my grandparents’ house, I would spends hours memorizing a book of Irish names, their meaning, and their history. When I began trying to write around middle school, I would procrastinate on writing the story, instead coming up with lists of possible names tens and dozens-long. 

I discovered how Japanese names work shortly after coming here a year ago. At first, I thought names had a set meaning. One name, maybe one or two combinations of kanji, one meaning. That’s how Western names work—their roots are deep, and stretch back into the past across borders and languages. From Hebrew to Roman, Old English to Modern, German to French. You can’t just know what’s in a name by looking at it, not until you know the languages it went through and their etymologies. 

This is not so with Japanese names. First, you usually start with the sound of the name. Then, most parents pick the combination of kanji that have the same pronunciations. Aspects from words and poetry using the same kanji to the radicals and stroke order balance are considered. In other words, the naming process takes on new layers of symbology and aesthetics. I was instantly fascinated. 

I have been making Japanese names ostensibly as a way of studying kanji, but really just for fun. From there I’ve felt comfortable and confident enough to dig deeper into kanji, even spending time making little stories and images to help memorize them. Kanji are cool. Japanese names are cool.

About a couple of months ago, one of my JTEs asked me if I had a hanko, assuming it would have to use kanji. A hanko is a personal seal used to sign important documents. When she learned I did have one, but with just the katakana, she kindly made me a last name (瑚芙). That got me looking into arranging kanji for my first and middle names, as well as looking into other options for my last name. The kanji the teacher chose are beautiful, but extremely hard to read for the average Japanese person.

This got me searching for more name combinations for myself. I still haven’t decided on a combination. Part of me is taking this very seriously, as a way to fully integrate myself into the culture and into my Japanese learning. I could have two names for my two countries, one given and one taken. I can give my name a personal touch, and yet keep it essentially the same.

Another part of me thinks it would be a betrayal of my original name and its strong history in exchange for a small part of a society that will never fully accept me no matter how long I live here. A  foreigner using a kanji name is very strange, after all, and whatever the result would be will probably be very hard for a Japanese person to figure out the pronunciation for. Why bother? None of the results quite have the same feeling as “Lauren.”

Well, time will tell what I decide is the right thing to do. For now, here’s what I have:

Kanji of the Day: 

ローレン (Lauren⸺Latin; “crowned with a laurel wreath; eternal victory”)

    浪蓮 (“wave lotus, lotus of waves, wave of lotuses”)

    朗蓮 (“clear, melodious, cheerful lotus”)

    露蓮 (“dew on a  lotus, bare lotus”)

    朗廉 (“clear, cheerful honesty/honor”)

    朗錬 (“tempered, refined, cheerful, and clear”)

サマンサ (Samantha⸺Hebrew; “one who listens”)

佐万差 (“offer help to 10,000, 10,000 shining helps”)


ゴフ (Goff⸺Welsh; “red”)


瑚芙 (“coral Confederate rose”)

    五風 (“five winds, fifth wind”)

    互扶 (“helping each other, mutual salvation”)

    檎阜 (“apple hill, apple village”)


Word of the Day:


    炎陽 (えにょう;enyou)

    “Summer heat”

Thought of the Day

水を飲まないと頭痛がするよ。


New Year Brainstorming