August 18, 2010

Introducing: Henry

With the advent of Twitter I have an ever-so-slightly more public profile than I did a few years ago. And in tweeting about the pregnancy and delivery of our son, my wife and I have been encouraged and touched by the outpouring of well wishes from everyone following the news.

And since I was live-tweeting the delivery, after all, I figure it's only fair to make a proper post to introduce the little guy and explain his name. Leave it to a linguist to craft a name that mixes elements from five languages.

Without further ado:

Henry John Granville Dockum
Born on August 16, 2010 at 5:16 pm, 3.46 kg / 7 lb 10 oz.

My wife and I believe in giving a child a name that has meaning and history. But it's a tough job coming up with a suitably meaningful name for a child of Thai-Chinese-English-German-Scottish-Irish-Danish-Dutch descent. And those are just the ones I know for certain.

Henry is an English name, from the Germanic haim + ric, which means 'ruler of the home'. We chose it because we like the euphony of the name (and its accompanying nickname Hank) with the Thai name we've chosen for him: เฮง Heng.

Of course, เฮง Heng is borrowed from Chinese--it is a southern Chinese pronunciation of the character , meaning 'prosperous' or 'happy' (though in Thai it has come to mean 'lucky'). We gave him this name after his maternal grandfather, whose Chinese name was กิมเฮง Kimheng -- nickname Heng -- back before the Thai government required Chinese Thai families to adopt Thai names.

Henry's first middle name, John, is given after his paternal grandfather, who passed away in 1998.

We thought long and hard about whether a second middle name was overkill, but ultimately decided we wanted to carry on a family tradition of giving the middle name Granville to firstborn Dockum sons. The name has been in my family for 200 years. Granville means 'large city', which is exactly what Henry's birthplace Bangkok is: มหานคร maha nakhon.

And of course Dockum is my family name, originating from ancestors who emigrated to America from Dokkum, Netherlands many generations ago.


  1. Congrats to both you and your wife Rikker. Your new addition looks just like you :-)

  2. Congratulations and Good Luck for young Henry.

    BTW: may I correct your Germanic? As far as I know its rather "heim" than "haim" (the English "home"?) though its pronounced same. But the secord syllable ist "rîhhi" (Engl.: rich, aristocratic, powerful).

  3. Heinrich, thanks for the comment. I guess the derivation of this name is something you know about, eh? ;)

    Looking into it a bit more, the form you've cited is the Old High German, right? So you're right that those are the proper root words, and 'Haimric' would have been an early form (the earliest?) that was actually used as a name. Does that match your understanding?

  4. Awesome! great job there! :D

  5. Congratulations! He is really cute.

  6. Again, ขอแสดงความยินดีให้ครอบครัวทั้งหมด และหวังว่าทุกคนกำลังนอนหลับพอดีและมีความสุขสบายใจตลอดครับ

    Our considerations were not quite so complicated. We wanted solid first names that Mali's relatives could pronounce and wouldn't mean anything silly in Lao or Thai (hence, no "Leah" for our girls). We went through my family's genealogy for the names, and they've all worked. We decided on a similar process for their middle names--all of them come from Mali's family line. Her parents weren't so sure at first, but warmed up to the idea when we named kids after them.

  7. Congratulations! You have a beautiful little son. Hope to see you again sometime in Thailand!

  8. Kris Willems9/01/2010 8:35 PM

    Congratulation to you and your wife. He looks beautiful.

  9. Congratulations!

    I found your sight through a series of searches to see if Sesame Street had a Thai version (either dubbed or specifically made for Thailand.) My husband is Thai and we are trying to raise our children bilingual and I am looking for any resources I can find...especially for little kids to get exposure to the language. My mother in law is visiting us from Bangkok in spring and I would love to be able to tell her where and what to buy to help (she has brought DVDs but they are really for older kids 10-2 yrs.)

    Since you seem very knowledgeable on resources to help people learn Thai, I am hoping you can provide recommendations of what to buy and where to get it (My in-laws are in Bangkok and can easily get to just about anywhere that might sell stuff if I tell them what to look for.)

    Thanks in advance for any help!

    Elly T.