Sunday, February 1, 2009

Names, names, names

In keeping with what is now apparently a family tradition for this generation, my SIL named her new daughter something that ends in -a (or -ah). There are 4 girls now, and they all have names like Diana or Viola (but not those, of course). It's kind of odd, and if I remember correctly, yet another SIL intends to name her daughter (if she has one) Mya.

I have issues with names. I'm also a bit of a hypocrite, since my daughter has an unusual name, but the blame rests entirely with my husband. But it does make me cringe a little when people alliterate their children's names. Like my grandmother...who had 3 daughters. All their names start with Mar... Like my oldest sister...who has 3 children whose names all start with M. For that matter, my oldest sister also chose my name. Her name starts with A, and my next oldest sister's name starts with J. Then the next sister is also a J. When I was born, my sisters were sent to stay with my aunt for a few weeks, and there was a letter from my oldest sister urging my parents to pick another A name (with a list of suggestions) so she wouldn't be outnumbered. Maybe that's why I have issues with names.

In the course of my work, I look at a lot of names. At one point, I found the worst name ever, but it was so horrible that I've completely blocked it from memory. One of the names that tickled me the most was Ruby Mae Cabbagestalk. I don't know why I think that's so funny, but there it is. I recently saw on The Smoking Gun the guy named Dalcapone Alpaccino Morris (they refer to it as the best Scarface tribute). One of the guys in our office compiled a list of the most unusual names he'd encountered. While some are not that unusual to me, there are a couple of standouts, such as Vassey Vernon Von Hoosier III (because once is just not enough to saddle someone with that name) and someone I've seen a time or two, Quliac Halfacre.

My question is this: What's wrong with traditional first names, with traditional spellings? Don't you waste enough time in life without having to spend half an hour spelling your name over the phone for every customer service call? There are at least 2 more common names by which my daughter will likely be called, because her father fell in love with a word and decided to make it a name. (In my defense, I had only agreed to it as a middle name, but then when we decided on a first name the flow of the names was better when they were reversed. Also, there is an actress who has a variation of her name, so it's not completely unheard of.) Personally, I don't want my child to stand out for anything other than her own accomplishments. If you get a chance to read Freakonomics (by Steven Levitt and Stephen Dubner), it has an interesting section on names.


  1. My children have traditional names with traditional spellings.

    I can't think of any punishment greater than deliberately inflicting a 50 syllable made up name that'll forever have people asking how it's pronounced and spelt. :)


  2. My SIL's brother and his wife all have names that start with "M" as do their 5 children. It's a joke, they can't get their names straight. When I worked Labor and Delivery, a mom named her baby "Hakuna Matata" and we also has a sign in the clinic, "Chlymadia is a Disease, Not a Child's name."

  3. I like names that are different but simple. Hubby and I both have an affinity for Celtic names, but we also have a few traditional ones we like.

    I agree that they shouldn't be so difficult to spell or pronounce that the child hates the name and wantes to change it.

  4. I like traditional names with traditional spellings.

    My coworker named his son Westin. And then they had baby #2. Another boy. And yes. Named him Eastin.

    (whoa - your word verification was "SATEN". Good thing the second vowel wasn't another 'a')

  5. I like all kinds of names. My kids will have traditional Jewish first names and then traditional Sanskrit middle names... and then traditional Buddhist (Zen Buddhist) second middle names... and then a last name that people can neither spell or pronounce correctly. I can be mean that way.

    And the funniest name I've ever seen? There is a fertility doctor named Randy Morris. Seriously. He's a fertility doctor and his name... think about it.

  6. Are you familiar with gratuitous Y syndrome? That's where people over the last 10-15 years have been putting Y's where Y's ought not be, in their children's names. Because it's cute. Examples include Brandyn, Krystyna, Makynzi, Madisyn, Camryn, Ashtyn...

  7. Oh yes, the people who do not recognize that y is only sometimes a vowel. Clearly they did not grow up in an eastern european community, or they would have gotten their fill of y's as the only vowel in a name.

    And Randy Morris, the fertility appropriate!

  8. My first name is pretty odd. It is phonetically correct but people are stupid so I'm constantly having to pronounce it for them. And my last name... well I voluntarily chose for it to be very difficult to spell/pronounce. And I love it. I love my name(s) so much that I will gladly spell them to anyone who asks until the end of my days.

  9. I completely agree. I once knew a girl named Emmileigh and her sister's name was Asheleigh. Kids often asked them why their parents had named them that way. I also knew a girl named Dilyn. While that's not as odd as the other spelling variations people often thought she was a boy (even though she looked like a girl). Everyone wants their kids to be 'unique' and 'original' but the truth is that crazy names do nothing but hurt kids.