What’s there to a name?

BaywatchMy Name, ‘Armand Richard David’, has an interesting and excellent history. How it came to me is relatively simple, and of some interest.

‘Armand’ was selected for its similarity to ‘Arvind’ – the name of my-brother- who-wanted-a-clone – and I think its vague Indian-soundingness must have appealed to my parents. ‘Richard’ came to me, again because of my brother, but this time because of his fondness of ‘Richie Rich‘ – I stress, my brother was only five when I came to be, so let’s not judge him too harshly.

“David” has the best origin. That name came to us, so one of the stories goes, because my brahmin-hindu great grandfather in India converted to Christianity so he would be allowed to trade in livestock.

Of course, my name is not unique. In the 19th century there lived a French priest called ‘Armand David’ – he saved some deer, apparently, and this act of apparently secular environmentalism has left him with a legacy; Pere David’s deer.

My name is not, however, French. Nor is it Indian, although it bears some similarity to the Sanskrit ‘Aman’, in form and in pronounciation, which means peace. Its origin is Teutonic; the old german ‘Herman’ was warped over the years by the Danes to ‘Armand’. Herman, and therefore ‘Armand’ by its descent, means ‘Man of War’ – from the German ‘Her Mann’ (which in modern German would translate as ‘Mr Man’ – a translation I prefer’).

Names, I like to think, have a certain power. I have, over the years, through any number of mispronounciations and vulgarisations of my name, acquired any number of nicknames, none of which have ever lasted. I acquired another name through an arcane Christian ritual; ‘Justin’, too, has not taken to me.

I am thus, and ever will be, Armand.