What Is In A Name
Semeen Ali
Names: A Study Of Personal Names, Identity And Power In Pakistan by Tariq Rahman Oxford University Press, Karachi, 2015, 260 pp., 995
March 2017, volume 41, No 3

We need to establish that proper names are an integral part of systems we have been treating as codes: as means of fixing significations by transposing them into terms of other significations. Would this be true if it were true, as logicians and some linguists have maintained that proper names are, in Mell’s phrase, ‘meaningless’ in signification?

– Levi-Straus

Rahman begins by observing how people in Pakistan believe that the personality of a person is reflected by the name they have. Also the construction of identities starts with names as they are a part of the belief systems in which they occur. Since relationships are a part of the system in which we live, names play an important role as constructors and signifiers of one’s identity within a relationship. The role of identity has been tied up with one’s name and Rahman shows the relationship between the two throughout the book.

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