First of all, I just want to make a point:
It really bothers me that such a vast number of Tauren have a name like AdjectiveHoof or NounHoof. There are words other than Hoof, people! Chaser! Runner! Horn! Please, that’s a typical format for a Tauren name, but you are free to spice it up a little!
Alright, that said – and I just had to get that out of the way – I wanted to talk about naming traditions. I don’t know about many of you, but personally, the way I tend to name a new character is to sit and hit ‘randomize’ until I find something that a) I like, b) suits the character and c) isn’t already taken. For the most part, you’d probably prefer to go a little more in-depth with your naming, and that’s fine. My way entirely plays off my poor knowledge of lore in some ways – if I’m not sure about the lore behind it, a randomized name can’t go too far wrong.
But even though my approach is… well, bordering on lazy, to say the least, names are important. Individual names, naming traditions, and so on. We know this in the real world. A child was (relatively) recently taken into state custody in New Zealand so they could enforce a name change, her doting parents having named her Talula Does The Hula From Hawaii.
You can’t tell me that doesn’t have an effect on a kid. (That’s also my excuse next time I get picked up on a name violation for calling my character Deskchair; with parents like that, can you guarantee no one on Azeroth would call their kid Deskchair? But I digress.).
More to the point, more normal names can have an effect on a person – someone with the same name as a role model of theirs may feel they have a lot to live up to, for instance, or people may feel compelled to pass on some kind of tradition in naming (a common Catholic one is that female children should have the middle name ‘Mary’ or ‘Maria’).
So how do the Tauren, in specific, feel about names? This is what WoWWiki tells us.
Tauren have several names. They receive a name at birth and another during a ceremony to celebrate reaching adulthood. This adult name describes some event in their lives or some notable individual characteristic … A tauren may also acquire a third name that he uses when dealing with outsiders.
Clearly, names are important to the Tauren. What this means is that if you’re creating an adult tauren, you have two main choices – the ‘third name’ mentioned above, that they use when dealing with outsiders, or the ceremonially given adult name describing some part of their life. Obviously, if you’re choosing the latter, you have to give some thought to why they have that name. What did they do to earn that name? There’s bound to be some story behind it, or some visible sign to explain it – what is it? Is it a less than flattering name? What do they think of that?
If they haven’t reached adulthood yet (and I’m getting conflicting information from my sources on when a tauren reaches adulthood, so I’ll stay quiet on the topic for now), they’ll obviously have quite a different name. Do they have some kind of expectation of what their adult name will be? Do they have a hope of what it might be? Are they trying to prove themselves so they can have an especially cool and awesome name?
These are all things about names that, I’ll be frank, you can’t get just from hitting Randomize. Of course, you can hit Randomize and then make something up, but it’s probably better if you don’t.
I need to take my own advice here, I’ll grant.