We call it a rose. A remarkable number of languages have a word similar to the English, though of course some languages break the pattern. The Turks say gül, the Romance languages say rosa, except for Romanian, which rebelliously uses trandafir, and the Slovenians, like most Slavs, remove as many vowels as they can manage with their word vrtnica. While it’s true that the physical object of a rose would not change character were we to call it by any other name, we still call it a rose because that’s the word that belongs to it in English. A rose is a rose.
The flowers may not care what we call them, but names mean more to us. Our names are linked to our identities in a much more complete way, to the point that when someone calls us by a different name, it feels wrong, like we are not recognized. How many times have we said, “He called me Stacey? That’s not right! I soooo don’t look like a Stacey.” If it happens enough, we might even feel insulted. Names – and the act of naming – are powerful. Continue reading