Friday, 14 August 2015

What's In A Name?

I love names. I love finding out their meanings and origins. I love names that have sentimental meanings. I love names that contain an in-joke, or names that make clever references. I love finding out what names other people have chosen. I love names that were carefully chosen, names that genuinely fit whoever or whatever they were chosen for. So it's little surprise that one of my favourite things about collecting models is naming them.

Whether it's the people in my Schleich stable, my vintage Puppy in my Pocket dogs and cats or my many, many, many model horses, I just love finding the perfect name for each and every one of my models. Sometimes I'll keep the original name the model comes with (if it has one at all), but for the most part I prefer to choose my own names. I find it makes them feel so much more personal to me.

That doesn't mean it's easy to name most of my models, however. Occasionally I might have the perfect name picked out before I even get the model, but more often than not I only start to consider names for them after I've got them. It's a little bit like naming a baby: you just don't know what will suit them until they arrive.

So, here's how I normally go about finding a name for my models, and a few little tips and tricks I've found that help me.

I start off with the model I want to name, a pen and paper, and a list. This list consists of 3 A4 sized sheets of paper with about 2,000 words and names all together, split into 5 columns per page. I know 2,000 may seem like a lot, but if you actually sit down and write out all the animal names you can think of, you'll probably find it's not far off. My list contains regular words that are often used for animal names, like Thunder and Flame, as well as words that sound interesting that I think could be used for names, like Metronome and Burgundy, with a few human names thrown in (I don't normally like to use human names for animals, but sometimes nothing else fits).

I used to split my list into Male, Female and Unisex names, but when I realised that most of the names could be unisex anyway I rearranged them into alphabetical order. This is helpful, as it's easier to spot if I have a name duplicated on my list. Some of the names I've thought of myself, some I've found from websites and books, and some are just words or names I've come across in daily life that I've thought would suit a model someday. Every time I find a new name I add it into the list, which is how it's grown to 2,000+ by now.

Now for the naming part. I run through the list word by word with the model in front of me, writing down each one I think might suit my model onto my spare paper.  Once I've reached the end of the list I then go back through the names I've written down, saying each one out loud as I hold the model. Sometimes I go through the names a few times before I settle on the one that 'feels' right for my model.  Of course, this doesn't always work. A number of my models I've gone back and renamed later because I just wasn't happy with the name I chose first time round.  But, for the most part, the name I choose by this process is the name that sticks for my models.

If you'd like to start your own list of name ideas, check out these websites below:
Most popular horse names.
This site is one of my favourites: horse names by category.
Massive alphabetical list of horse names
Another alphabetical list

Other ideas for naming your models:
  • How about naming them after a famous character in a book or cartoon, like Spirit, Black Beauty or Rarity?
  • You might find some inspiration by reading wild horse blogs - most name the wild horses in their blog so that it's easier for readers to understand which horses they're writing about.
  • If you're trying to name model people, or just like human names for your animals, why not check out baby name websites, or even buy yourself a book of baby names!
  • Why not look for a name in the native language of your model's breed, like an Irish name for a Connemara pony or an Arabic name for an Arabian? You could even get a map of the country or area that the breed came from and choose a name from the local towns and villages.

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