What’s in a (Blog) Name?

By Trixie Reguyal

What’s in a name? A lot, of course. Facebook might have one hundred million less users if it had continued being The Facebook. Google has become a verb. (Has it always been a verb? Do you remember the world pre-Google? Hard to imagine, isn’t it?) And Uber, despite its legal problems and image issues, is happily becoming a verb too.

But a blog name can also be ordinary, even meaningless. Huffington Post and TMZ are brazenly un-snappy as names, yet they’re two of the most popular blogs in the world.

I love the whimsical names of popular food blogs – 101 Cookbooks, Smitten Kitchen, I Am A Food Blog. Some names dial up the whimsy – Love and Lemons, Princess Tofu, Pen and Palate. And some go for humor – The Gouda Life, I Believe I Can Fry, Go Cook Yourself.

When I was a young adult and thought of having kids, I imagined that I would give my kids imaginative, bohemian names. Names like Moonbeam or Rainbow. Or something unusual, like the name of a significant city, Manila, perhaps, or Mindoro. When I had my first child, however, and I looked at her tiny, vulnerable form, imagined the days of what I hoped would be a long happy life, I opted for a name that I thought was beautiful … and absolutely safe. I couldn’t risk making a mistake. The stakes were too high. My two girls’ names, I like to imagine, clothe them in something classically beautiful – the equivalent of a crisply tailored gray dress and a string of pearls.

When my friends and I started talking about a blog about two years ago, we floundered around coming up with a name. It’s not an easy process. You want something that’s short and easy, hopefully memorable, perhaps even meaningful. There was talk of a sidecar and the number twelve and of various editions. We came up with a name, but I don’t think anybody was happy with it and the project fizzled out.

Eventually, I put up the blog Letters to Narcissus, a name I came up with after thinking about it for about two minutes and not allowing myself to get caught up in indecisiveness. I was, of course, immediately unhappy with the name, but it was too late to back out, especially since Carol had graciously joined me in the enterprise and didn’t seem to have violent objections to the name. I wrote what seems to me now a mortifyingly overwrought explanation about the blog name and blogged with Carol for about two years now. We’re moving the blog – and changing the name (losing the name is actually more accurate) – because of technical issues that are too tiresome to recount here. This move was supposed to happen gradually, with several posts in the old blog in preparation, but, again due to wearisome technical issues, it inadvertently happened a lot faster. We were there and, all of a sudden, we’re here.

What’s in a name? “Ika” is Japanese for squid and is the topic of one of Carol’s last posts in the old site. “Ika Nga,” the blog post title, is a Tagalog expression meaning “as has been said” or “what’s been said.” “Ikanga,” according to a Google search, is also the name of a village in Kenya, a tea company in Tanzania, and is a domain name for sale for $3,495.

Like the old blog name, this is a name chosen rather haphazardly, quickly, without giving myself (or Carol, for that matter) time to overthink it. But I would like to think that the name is meaningful because it sort of takes off from the old site and so continues the conversation that Carol and I and a handful of readers are having. The name sounds nice, doesn’t it? Whether pronounced the Tagalog way, with the “nga” as a separate word, as in “ika nga.” Or perhaps the way the Kenyan village is pronounced, with the “n” divorced from the “g,” as in “ikan ga.”

I can continue to spin this – it won’t be that difficult. I can make up a fetching confection, inflate a balloon castle, scaffold the name with deep and even abstruse meaning.

But let’s leave it at this point. I don’t want to remember this later and feel mortified again by what I’ve written. Actually, it’s too late. I’m already mortified.

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