Sunday, November 17, 2013

Teen Crushes: Cinnamon, Kitana & Savannah

Kitana with her deadly fans from the video game 'Mortal Kombat'

For many people (especially girls it seems) an interest in names usually starts early. For some it's as simple as an "I like your name" to a new friend when you're at school. For others it means long lists of names they hope to one day use, and still others just know early when they've found "the one" - the name they will use no matter what.

When naming is a hypothetical dream you can be as outlandish as you like, and sometimes we are. This is never more so than when we are teenagers - we're establishing our own identity, and our tastes in names can be an extension of this. Are we the type of person who likes classic names, quirky names or modern names?

Sometimes the names we love at this stage will stick with us, sometimes not. After all, tastes change. But regardless of whether we still love a name with the same fervour, chances are that you look back on those names with fondness.

At least, I know I certainly do. So here are three of the names that enchanted me the most as a teen in the nineties.

Cinnamon was a fanciful "what if" name for me. I was reading a novel - I have no idea which one now - where the main characters were sisters named Sage and Thyme. I really loved this theme, and while Sage "made sense" as a name, I had never really thought or heard of Thyme as a name before. This got me to thinking what other herbs and spices would make great names, and Cinnamon was the one that gave me a light bulb moment. I absolutely loved the sound of it, it felt so earthy yet exotic. But I remember sharing this thought with other people and being told that Cinnamon is not a name. So it became a guilty pleasure name for me - one I loved but could never use.

When I first discovered Nameberry and the SSA charts, I just had to look this one up. The description at Nameberry pretty much confirmed what I'd already been told - that Cinnamon as a name is a bad idea - but I was tickled pink to discover that Cinnamon actually charted in the US from 1967 to 2010! These days my heart lies with Sage, but I'll always have a soft spot for under-appreciated Cinnamon.

This is the name that inspired todays' post. Last night as I was heading to bed, the movie 'Mortal Kombat' was just starting on TV. It's a bad, bad movie. But it brings back fond memories of playing the video game with my brothers and sister. And one of the things I especially loved about the game franchise (apart from the super cool fatalities and the legendary phrase "Finish Him!") was that it introduced me to the name Kitana.

Kitana was created for the game by combining the Japanese words Kitsune and Katana to come up with a name that creator John Tobias thought would sound "generically Asian enough". It therefore doesn't have a defined meaning. In Japanese Kitsune means 'fox' and a Katana is a type of Samurai sword known for it's sharpness and strength though, so you could probably draw some meaning from a combination of these elements. Possibilities could include "sharp as a fox", "strong fox" or maybe even "fighting fox", which seems the most fitting considering the character it was coined for.

I'm not the only one to be attracted to this name - Kitana first charted in the U.S. in 1994, around the time MKII ('Mortal Kombat 2') was released. It has charted every year since then, ranked #3045 in 2012 when it was given to 55 girls. While I still love the sound of Kitana, it's similarity to Katana when spoken puts it in the "do I really want to use weapon-like names for a person?" category for me. And of course since it was created for the game there would always be that association. I can't deny it isn't tempting though.

In 1996 Aaron Spelling shows were instant hits, and one of my absolute favourites was 'Savannah'. It was set in the town of Savannah, Georgia, and centred around three female friends named Lane, Peyton and Reese. It was full of scandal, intrigue and southern accents, and I loved it. And as much as I liked the names of the three main characters, it was Savannah that captured my imagination the most. To me, it felt classy, soft, fresh and different - just the type of unique, slightly exotic sounding name that I was into at the time.

I laugh now when I remember thinking it was "exotic" sounding, because to many people it's not. But at the time - and in Australia - I hadn't really heard it on a person before. It's still not exactly a popular name here, although in the US it's been a top 1000 name since 1983, and a top 100 name since 1993. Savannah is a Spanish name meaning 'flat tropical grassland' and has gained popularity due to it's prettily feminine sound and slightly spunky feel.

I find it interesting now, looking back on these as a set rather than individual names that I liked at separate times. It strikes me that they could possibly pass for sisters. They all feel slightly exotic to me, have three syllables, and a "nah" sound in them. And each still holds a special charm for me. Maybe they're more indicative of what I like in a name than I first thought.

What were (or currently are) your teen crushes? When you look at them do you think they help you understand your style better? Or are they just memories that you look at fondly, knowing you'll never feel the desire to re-visit them?

1 comment:

  1. My top three teen name crushes were Alistair, Gabriel and Dante - all "weird" names at the time, but obviously a lot of other teenagers had crushes on them too! Oh, and ditto Isabella.

    I hankered after the name Uriel, but was forced to consider it a non-starter, because even I kept thinking it was too much like urinal.