Posted by: rachelanne229 | October 6, 2009

by any other name

they say a rose by any other name would smell as sweet.  ok, well shakespeare says it in romeo and juliet, which does not make it true.  we’ve discussed this statement a few times in english classes, and i waver back and forth about whether i believe it or not.  tonite, i don’t.

names are beautiful and unique.  if my name were clarisse instead of rachel, i’m sure my life would’ve ended up at least slightly different.  if you call a rose a stinging nettle, for example, the romantic implications of roses could be lost forever.  usually i am a fan of indulging the sense.  i don’t care if my meal is aesthetically appealing– i just want it to taste good.  that chocolate cake doesn’t need to be adorned with cherries and chocolate shavings and named a fancy french word for it to taste delectable and melt in my mouth.  it can fulfill its purpose just fine no matter what it’s called.  but if you want to really examine sensory pleasure, at the highest level of quality, i believe you have to take naming into account.

words and names hold great value, in american culture and numerous others.  australian aboriginal traditions and place names come quickly to mind.  when you get down to it, or up to it, in the case of divine and powerful, and just plain classy names, the name matters.  so when shakespeare says “a rose by any other name…,” i disagree.  maybe a pen by any other name.  maybe a table lamp or a fork by any other name.  but nothing so romantic as a rose or the aurora borealis or katahdin.  these names have so much attached and have so many deep-seeded emotional/spiritual/passionate connotations that changing them to anything else would significantly diminish the value of the item being described.

additionally, names and words vary a great deal by language.  i don’t claim to be a linguist, but i know that “love” in one language cannot directly translate to “love” in another language, and that each language deals with names for “love” in a unique fashion.  to change the word for “love” to a universal name would desecrate the word and cause a tremendous loss of meaning.

perhaps the word “dandelion” could’ve been substituted for the word “rose” hundreds of years ago before people started making romantic connections and writing sonnets and connecting monumental amounts of symbolism with this name, but not now, and not in romeo’s and juliet’s time either.


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