Saturday, December 3, 2011

Being Roger

A Google Image search for Roger brings up pictures of tennis champ Roger Federer, film critic Roger Ebert, The Who frontman Roger Daltry, former James Bond Roger Moore, and Roger the Alien, among others. It's not a normal name to have, either as a child or an adult, and with the exception of Mr. Ebert, it's not a name many people take seriously.

The name Roger has its origins in the Germanic language, its two syllables Hrod and Ger literally translating to "Fame" and "Spear." The name signified a mighty, notorious hunter. Scandinavian variations (also Germanic) of the name translate as "Famous Warrior" or "Famous Defender." The name was brought to England by the Normans and eventually replaced a similar name with the same meaning, Hrothgar--the king of Heorot in Beowulf. The epic tells of the hero Beowulf who travels to rid Hrothgar of the pests Grendel and his mother. Grendel's mother, not Hrothgar's. The people are referred to as the Spear Danes, and for the Spear Danes to be ruled by a man whose name literally means "Famed Spear" makes perfect sense. It seems more fitting, really, as a title to bestow on someone who has earned it, or perhaps these mothers had high hopes for their children and were trying to predetermine their fates.

Guess I should have thrown the javelin in high school.

Many names have that kind of great history. Just look at the Old Testament, when they gave children names literally describing the events surrounding their conceptions or births. Jacob means "He grasps at the heel," which is what Jacob did during birth with his twin brother; Esau means "Hairy," which he was; Isaac means "He laughs," a commentary on God's sense of humor in giving a couple so old as Abraham and Sarah a son.

But great history of the name aside, when you're seven years old and the movie Who Framed Roger Rabbit? comes to theaters, that's something that sticks with you for a long time.

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