Tuesday, August 04, 2009

What is in a name?

Back when we got married, my wife and I talked about name change issues. She would have taken my last name if I had felt strongly about it, but I didn't. In fact, I always found my last name a little weird. I've gone through my whole life spelling it over and over, correcting the pronunciation etc.

Around the time we got married, my grandmother and independently, a great uncle told me the story of our name. It was probably bull, but they both told essentially the same story:

Our family was originally named Campanelli. There was some other, unrelated to us, Campanelli's who were bandits in that district. So, in order to distance themselves from the bad-Campanelli's, the good ones renamed themselves Pecchia. Here the stories diverged: My grandmother said they picked Pecchia because it is shorter than Campanelli. Yes, it was so ridiculous that I couldn't help making a guffaw. My uncle had a better, if not necessarily true story. He said that Pecchia means something along the lines of hard-worker, like a honey bee. This at least makes sense since a hard worker is kind of the opposite of a bandit.

My wife and I both like the sound of Campanelli and entertained the notion of us both changing to that. More out of inertia than anything else, we never bothered. Besides that, I don't look at all like a typical Italian so it would have been weird to trade in my old name for one that was even more woppy-sounding.

In the end, after three children and 17 years of marriage, my wife just completed the arduous task of changing her name. I didn't care at the time we got married and it was her idea to make the change but I won't lie--it pleases me.

Oh yes: My theory for where Campanelli came from is that the village my people come from is called Campodimele. Just about everybody there is named Pecchia or Difonzo.


Trooper York said...

When my brother got engaged I told his wife that she was going to have an important title that only my mom had. She asked what was that?

I said "Mrs. Dolan"

She said "Oh I am going to keep my name."

We never really got along after that.

Trooper York said...

My wife was very happy to change her name when we got married.

Of course if I had changed my name to her last name I would have been a Kelly.

Big diff.

But like you I would still be a wop underneath it all.

dbp said...

My wife only occasionally reads my blog, but she read this post. She gave me a big smile when she got to the part where I was pleased that she changed her name.