What’s in a name?

2009-10-30 00:00

QUITE a lot, if recent reports in The Witness are anything to go by. How else do you explain the couple who were fighting over a winning Lotto ticket? Their surname? Maslamoney. Or what about the woman who challenged a judge’s decision to fine her R10 000, only to have her fine more than doubled. What was her surname? Gready.

Yes, names have always fascinated me. So much so that a few years ago, I decided to start a business specialising in naming businesses, boats, horses … you get the picture. My niece and I sat down and recorded all our creative ideas in a black book. We made business cards and got an e-mail address. Evidently, no one in the business fraternity shared my enthusiasm. What a bunch of boring egotists, I thought to myself. Always naming their businesses after themselves. So my only hope is that newspapers and the reading public will share my excitement about names.

Take for example the name Wooden it be Nice that used to bring a smile to travellers on the N3 just outside Howick. Why, that man even got his name onto East Coast Radio. All because of a beautiful name. Sadly, that name no longer adorns the N3, but happily, I still see a business van with this name on it dropping children off at Howick Prep.

Or the tiny town of Philippolis, for that matter, where there is a guesthouse which bears the name Oppiehoek. Nothing terribly unusual about that, I suppose. But opposite Oppiehoek, some enterprising person opened a guesthouse with the name of Oppie-anna- hoek. Now I don’t know about you, but creativity like that just brings a smile to my face. And hopefully to the faces of countless visitors to that establishment.

One of the success stories of the Karoo is undoubtedly Sutherland. And it is here that I believe you will come across one of the greatest names in all of South Africa: Halley se kom-eet, a restaurant-guesthouse playing on the town’s astronomical success by punning on the words komeet ( comet ) and kom- eet (come eat). Of course, the town’s guesthouse owners have taken advantage of Sutherland’s success as the astronomy capital of South Africa. Thus, almost overnight guesthouses called Jupiter Guesthouse, Galaxy Guesthouse or Orion Guesthouse, and so on, appeared. Someone should do some research and find out which the coldest planet is, and rename the entire town after it.

Another great business name can be found on the Midlands Meander  —  Dun-Roamin Guesthouse. Now that is a name that encapsulates the spirit of the midlands. Explore the highways and byways to your heart’s content, but at the end of the day, when you are done roaming, there can only be one place for you to rest your weary head.

Another beautiful name a way back along the R103, which sadly is no more, was Notts–stalgia. Oh what a beautiful name for a Nottingham Road business specialising in antiques. A more perfect name than this you will struggle to find on all of the Midlands Meander. If I find that this name returns to Nottingham Road after this article, I will be visiting it to claim its most valuable heirloom as payment.

But recently, a name that is testimony to the creativity of the human spirit has appeared in the midlands — a newspaper called Drakonteur. Oh what a beautiful name that puns on the word “raconteur” and the region of the Drakensberg. It will be a few moons yet before this name is eclipsed.

Another name that has recently caught my eye is Jonny Steinberg’s book The Three-Letter Plague. My, what a title to defamiliarise a topic that has become so commonplace in the world — HIV. And what about the title God’s Pharmacy. This must be one of the great titles in the history of books, alluding to the healing powers of plants.

In Book Town Richmond, we pride ourselves on the names of our businesses. The Book Orphanage is fast gaining the reputation as one of the cutest names for a second-hand bookshop. And meet one Darrell Connolly, the über-onomastician in town responsible for that name Karoozing. Search the entire Great Karoo and you will struggle to top that.

Look at the accompanying picture of this cat to truly appreciate the creative genius of the man — what did he name it? Hitler.

• Darryl Earl David is a UKZN academic and founder of an annual book festival in the Karoo town of Richmond.

Join the conversation!

24.com encourages commentary submitted via MyNews24. Contributions of 200 words or more will be considered for publication.

We reserve editorial discretion to decide what will be published.
Read our comments policy for guidelines on contributions.

24.com publishes all comments posted on articles provided that they adhere to our Comments Policy. Should you wish to report a comment for editorial review, please do so by clicking the 'Report Comment' button to the right of each comment.

Comment on this story
Comments have been closed for this article.

Inside News24

Traffic Alerts
There are new stories on the homepage. Click here to see them.


Create Profile

Creating your profile will enable you to submit photos and stories to get published on News24.

Please provide a username for your profile page:

This username must be unique, cannot be edited and will be used in the URL to your profile page across the entire 24.com network.


Location Settings

News24 allows you to edit the display of certain components based on a location. If you wish to personalise the page based on your preferences, please select a location for each component and click "Submit" in order for the changes to take affect.

Facebook Sign-In

Hi News addict,

Join the News24 Community to be involved in breaking the news.

Log in with Facebook to comment and personalise news, weather and listings.