Friday, January 20, 2006

Naming Rights

Imagine you're the parent of an 11-year-old girl. She comes home from school and asks to host a sleepover. You ask how many friends she wants to invite, and she begins to list them. "Well, there's Cameron, Taylor, Jayden..." And now you're scratching your head, because you don't know whether your daughter is planning a girls-only slumber party or a coed makeout.

The most popular baby names are still Christian, but more parents are taking creative license. Setting aside the psychopaths who abuse their children by naming them Espn or Google, parents are taking cues from popular culture with names like Paris, Trinity, and Ashton. And as proper names stray from convention, more are becoming gender-ambiguous.

Worse (maybe) are the names that are creative for the sake of being creative. There's a great website listing some gems from Utah; my favorites include Laalaa, Shimber, and Jennyfivetina. I don't even know what to think about these people — stupid, psychotic, deluded...none of these words seem to capture the psychology of a parent who would send a child into the world with a name like Aquanetta. Call me old fashioned, but Joseph, Sarah, Mary...these are names. Qedrin sounds like cough syrup.

I suppose a unique name could have some advantage in the computer age. It's become a smaller world; and while you might be the only "Jack" at the neighborhood bar, it's nearly impossible to find most people by name on the internet. Google thinks my sister-in-law is a Stanford geophysicist. My ex-girlfriend shows up as a children's author. I'm an NFL wide receiver, a writer for the Boston Globe, a Philadelphia sportscaster, and about a dozen different musicians.

Personally, I like the anonymity. But someone with a different temperament might appreciate being easily identified online — and a name like Jennyfivetina will probably accomplish that. (Until some website posts your name as a joke.)

I can't even imagine naming my kid Tristan or Madison or Sierra. I certainly can't see myself holding a birth certificate with the name Leviathan. But hey, maybe that's East Coast superiority. I've been surprised how many people ask how to pronounce "Stephen." Maybe it's all relative. But I doubt it.


At February 26, 2006 6:35 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

I just found my name in your blog! You may not like my name of Qedrin, but I love it!

At February 26, 2006 11:24 PM, Blogger Stephen said...

I'm sincerely glad that you like your name, Qedrin. I really am. But since my contention was that oddball names tend to yield unbalanced children, I feel compelled to point out that you found my blog while searching Google for the phrase, "Qedrin was arrested for..."

At April 14, 2006 10:19 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Yes, indeed it was. They have these silly little bulletins on My Space that you type in certain phrases to see what the results are. Everyone always gets funny results, but me. Most of the time when you see the name Qedrin it refers to me. So, imagine my surprise when I saw my name somewhere where it really didn't have anything to deal with me. But, now it does. You are trying to say that I am not an outstanding citizen in my community. Your judgement couldn't be further from wrong. I do not appreciate you turn on my words trying to deface my name and my moral charter. Nice try! But, you will be sadly disappointed that I live a very balanced life and am very un newsworthy.


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