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.