Friday, June 11, 2010

A schtyk-ler for surname meanings

OK this is a short post because it's very late and I've been working on an academic article today (shock/horror) and on my novel a very little too (thankfully it's still there). I was thinking in the shower about my characters and how I relate to them or how they relate to me. There are two protagonists: Clover Hardy and Rebekah Schtyk. Clover Hardy is trying to write a PhD thesis (I wonder where I got that idea from) and she also works as a clairvoyant, whilst Rebekah is a skeptic investigator. Clover has had writer's block and hasn't written any of her thesis for a few months. This is a bit like me - since I've been writing the novel, I haven't written anything academic despite that the pressure is on to submit peer reviewed articles, post PhD. In fact, I've gone as far as to make a feature out of my lack of academic output by writing a blog called writing the anti-thesis. But yesterday, I wrote a scene where Clover opened up her thesis file and did some work, demonstrating that she is progressing as a character in relation to what is occurring in the narrative. I wonder if today is the first time I have written academically because of the scene I wrote for Clover yesterday. Perhaps, it has unleashed some latent block in my subconscious. In releasing Clover, I've released myself. Or is it the other way round? Who is setting whom free here?

That then got me thinking about my other heroine, Rebekah. If they are on an equal footing as protagonists then why is Clover's behaviour affecting me, the author, more? It is true, I have always sympathised more with Clover's sentiments, not necessarily because I am more psychic than I am skeptic but because Clover is generally a more perceptive and kinder person. But then I realised that Rebekah has my name! Of course, I knew that her forename was the same as my full forename but with a different spelling. But I don't think of myself as a Rebecca and a Rebekah with a kah is even farther removed. Furthermore, when Rebekah's name is shortened, people call her Beccs. People tend to call me Beccy or Bec. However, I have also given her a surname which relates to my ancestory. Schtyk was my mum's maiden name. Her Dad was French-Ukranian-Jewish although not necessarily in that order. He was also a communist, being from the Russianish neck of the woods at that moment in time. I have wished for a long time that I had my mum's rather than my Dad's surname because Schtyk is pretty rare. And also because it's not fair that only men's surnames can be passed down through generations. There's only a few Schtyks with that spelling in the world apparently. My second cousin Zena Schtyk has looked into that. Kennedy is so pedestrain. Is it Irish, is it Scottish, it's definitely celtic isn't it? Who cares. And I don't like being Dr Kennedy because that's my Dad, who also has a PhD. Or it's Dr Karl Kennedy off neighbours. Dr Schtyk would be cool. Although there's the liklihood I would get some stick for it (pun intended). Schtyk spelt with an i instead of a y seems to have more takers as a surname, although Shtik with an i and withoug a c also has other word meanings:

shtik: (Yiddish) a little; a piece; "give him a shtik cake"; "he's a shtik crazy"; "he played a shtik Beethoven"

shtik: (Yiddish) a contrived and often used bit of business that a performer uses to steal attention; "play it straight with no shtik"

shtik: (Yiddish) a devious trick; a bit of cheating; "how did you ever fall for a shtik like that?"
So I think I prefer Schtyk with a y. It is so rare that I can't find its geneological meaning. Kennedy, on the other hand, means Great Ugly Head from some celtic clan.

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