Beyond Fiction: Taboo Names

coverNames Tainted by Evil Acts

The Speaker grimaced. “Try ‘Ender.’ “

“Ender? The Xenocide?”

“Just try it.”

It worked. Olhado didn’t get it. “Why would you have a password like that? It’s like having a dirty word for your password, only the system won’t accept any dirty words.”

“I have an ugly sense of humor,” the Speaker answered.

—’Speaker for the Dead’ by Orson Scott Card, page 187

Although Ender is only in his thirties in ‘Speaker for the Dead’ he has traveled the universe long enough for history to change his reputation. It’s after Ender writes ‘The Hive Queen’ that humanity stops celebrating his victory over the formics and begin calling him “Ender the Xenocide.” The name “Ender” soon becomes synonyms with murder and is greeted with general disgust.

Like the fictional taboo of the name “Ender”, there are a wealth of taboo names society has deemed unfit for a child. For example, fewer parents are willing to name their baby “Adolf” after the rise of Adolf Hitler. In New Zealand, the name Adolf is even banned. Other names that have become taboo because of obvious evil connotations are Hussein (Saddam Hussein), Lucifer (the Devil), and Hannibal (Hannibal Lecter).

In ‘Speaker for the Dead’ Ender signs humanity’s treaty with the piggies under the name “Ender Wiggin.” He does so in hopes that it will bring positive attributes back to his name. “The name sounded ugly even to his own ears. He heard it too often as an epithet. […] Maybe the presence of that name on the first treaty between humans and ramen will do something to change the meaning of the name” (page 349). Like Ender, someone with any of these names might do something to gain social popularity. Maybe then the taboo surrounding these names will diminish.

Have you ever thought, “This reminds me of ‘Ender’s Game,’” while reading an article? Our new column, ‘Beyond Fiction’ is dedicated to sharing those stories. Each Saturday we’ll publish a piece both reminiscent and beyond the fiction of ‘Ender’s Game’. Of course, if you’d like to nominate a feature, please contact us.

Source: Daily Mail