What's In a Name? 1 June '12
A name depends on many factors--the language, the society, the era, the looks of the thing being named, or hoped for good will.
Sticking to English, the wee fairy tale child was oft called Tom Thumb or Thumbolina. Celtic fey clans are addressed as the 'Good Folk' in hope no ill befall the speaker. The fearsome Baba Yaga would be called 'Grandmother' by a young woman whose wits and good deeds saved her from the sorceress. Would anyone be interested in reading 'Humperdink Pottenschmeil' or a simple common boy called 'Harry Potter'? Bob is a peasant, Robert is a king, for while one would be using a nickname for a familiar regular sort of chap, the other is formal, taking no liberties and offering respect.
My characters often choose their own names, sometimes a character needs a name change to fit better. I'm changing one woman's name from Aria to Arkhana. Both resemble the assassin princess, a petite, sapphire-eyed blonde. Once her old name ceased being a part of a musical piece, whispered as a call between lovers, the tune reworked for a flower seller or a group of ragamuffins in play, she became something more. As the play on the word suggests--something hidden. Compared to Aria, Arkhana is less frivolous, she is more observant and keeps her own counsel versus sharing confidences with others. While some may consider Arkhana to be above the common herd by her bloodline, she knows that her education given by one at the top of the line for the occupation of assassin puts her in a place where few can stand, or remain so. Is she evil or good or shallow or introspective--or all and more as time and circumstances warrant? She has many facets strengths, weaknesses, all to make her accessible, real and holding the reader's thoughts.