Thursday, May 17, 2012

What's in a Name?

"Do you pronounce it 'Elaynatintil' or 'Elenahtintil'?"

I've gotten several inquires about my online title over the years, mostly "what does it mean" and "how do you pronounce it?" Most people shorten it to "Elena" (El - lay - nah), so that I'm called Elena by fully half the people I know.

This is ironic, because when I was younger I wanted a nickname, but no one ever gave me one that really worked. In high school the Keira Knightly Pride and Prejudice came out, and my friends called me Lizzy which I allowed because it associated me with Lizzy Bennet who everyone thought was completely awesome. But once I went off to college, I really wanted to go back to being called Elizabeth again (although I haven't broken everyone of the habit yet...)

The name "Elenatintil" is an adaptation of two words from Tolkien's Elvish. A language purist would raise their eyes at me, but I translate it roughly as "She who Shines like the Stars." In addition to just being pretty, it also connects with the biblical injunction for Christians to shine their light for the world to see.

I first used the name in a Lord of the Rings fanfiction, then later utilized it as my username on I quickly learned that it was a pretty unique name, and although people sometimes had trouble spelling it, they were quick to give me the nickname "Elena."

I really liked being called "Elena."

Fast forwards a few years and I started up the Fairy Tale Novels forum, and suddenly a lot more people were calling me Elena. I gave the same name to this blog which most of those people also read, and then when I started meeting them in person, it was like the name "Elizabeth" didn't even exist. I was "Elena" and that was that.

And I really like it. I brought the name over to my DeviantArt, and then Skype, and now all of my friends in my role-playing circle call me Elena as well. The nice thing is that it does work as a nickname for Elizabeth as well, so I don't feel that I'm giving up that name by accepting this new nickname. I'll answer to either name equally - most of the time. (If, for instance, my mother called me "Elena" I'd go "uh who?")

In fact the name got around so much, that one of my great aunts learned about it, loved it, and asked if she could give the name to one of her prize-winning horses. (I think they called the horse "Lennie" or something because Elenatintil is much too long for everyday use!)

So that's that. Legally and in general practice my name is Elizabeth. A lot of my friends call me Elena. I answer to either - you're welcome to use both!

(And if you say "Lizzy" I'm going to ask you Bible Quiz questions, because the only people who have the right to that name were on quiz team with me. Be warned!)

1 comment:

Elaine J. Dalton said...

That's a well put together and hilarious history of your name! Good job!