22 July 2014
Tips for Language Study
8 September 2014

Finding a Name

We have been attempting to find an appropriate Japanese expression of our family name. Carla is a huge lover of onomastics and etymology, so this was both a fun and serious undertaking. It was also a process through which God proved Himself provident and sovereign. As if He had foreordained that a young girl with a heart for missions to the Japanese would marry not only a godly man with a heart to serve God, but specifically this man, with this last name consisting of these sounds that can be expressed with these characters.

So to explain:

Japanese is not a language based on letters, but a syllabary of characters. Instead of spelling our name G I B S O N, it is written with the sounds Gi Bu So and N. So it would be perfectly appropriate to write it in katakana as ギブソン。In an effort to fully immerse ourselves in Japanese, we wanted to use kanji to write our name. Kanji is the system of writing that expresses meaning through the character as a whole, borrowed from Chinese. You may have read my earlier post about this character- 義。If not, go check it out after reading this.

That character can be pronounced as Gi. So, there’s the first part of our name.

I asked my Japanese friend, Mutsumi San, for some help with the rest of the name. She came through with flying colors. I thought I had a good idea of what to use, but seriously, when she recommended we use these, it was as if she had given me a beautiful gift. I thank God for her.

義Gi 奉Bu 尊Son

What do they mean?

義 means “righteousness.”

奉 means “observance, offer, present, dedicate.”

奉 is also a part of the following compounds:
奉仕 service, ministry
奉教人 early Japanese Christian
奉げ物 offering, sacrifice

尊 means “revered, valued, precious, noble.”

How perfect. What is missionary work, but a noble righteous service/sacrifice, presenting the precious offer of righteousness to those for whom Christ died that have yet to hear the good news?  That’s what we are wanting to be a part of, and it’s in our name!

(Special thanks to the imiwa? App for the awesome dictionary assistance.)

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