A Mauritian lady by the name of Shelina won Masterchef last night. Whilst I was rooting for Andrew (and the final 3 being rounded off by plasterer Tom), her name has fascinated me from the start of the series. She sounds like many other different names: Sheila, Helena, Shalom etc. but could she only be a creative smoosh-name?
It’s a possibility; Shelina comes from the island of Mauritius, which lies off the east coast of Africa in the Indian Ocean. Whilst it’s official language is English, many continue to speak Mauritian Creole, or indeed French. There are also a few Asian influences to consider too. This mixpot of ethnicities is due to the population being composed of settlers from all corners of the globe.
The smoosh theory is between the word she and the name Lena to create Shelena (which then is alternatively spelt Shelina). The name Lena can mean many things in other languages:
- breath, energy in Italian
- young bee, in Sotho
- sound asleep, in Malay
Another theory is that Shelina is an English variation of the name Selena, which derives from the Greek Selene and means moon. This especially seems appropriate given the suggestion of the alternative spelling Shelena. I should also mention that I did initially believe the contestant was named Selena, not Shelina – that is, until I caught sight of her name badge.
The final possibility I want to mention is that of Shelina being a variant of Shalini; she comes from Hindi and means modest. Whilst we’re on the topic of Indian names, there is another one I want to quickly mention: Shila, which derives from Sanskrit and means moral character, custom – she rather reminds me of the name Sheila.