And On The Playground Mock Them

When C-Man and I visited New York recently, I was delighted to discover that his friend R’s wife J is also a fan of the Social Security Administration popular baby name list. I have been checking it ever so often in the past few years, watching in horror as the name Emma became popular because that means I will NEVER be able to name my (potential) daughter Emma.

While I am not aiming to give my (potential) children a name as freakish as mine, I do not want them to have the same name as four other people in their class and then write a song about how they went to school with 27 Jennifers, 16 Jenns, and 10 Jennies. (Confidential to Mike Doughty: “seeking for” is wrong, and as much as I love you it will always bug me.)

Suebob also discovered this list and took a few cracks at several of the names she discovered. Commenters chimed in, expressing their concerns about (among other things) creative spelling. I have to say, this is a major pet peeve of mine, but I wonder how well-founded it is. Is there a “right” way to spell a name? I have a friend with a fairly normal sounding name, but her parents added an extra n. Apparently they were not very well educated and also bad at spelling. Should they be mocked? How many of the “creative” spellings are the result of situations like that? Or of “rules” for names being completely different than in white middle-class culture?

And how did names start, anyway? Names have changed over time, moving from one gender to another (Leslie) and either gaining or losing popularity. Who’s to say that spellings that look freaky to us today won’t look perfectly normal in 50 years?

I do have to pick on one of the commenters to Suebob’s post, though: “I hate the creative spellings, and I honestly can’t stand any girl’s name that starts with “Mc” or “Mac”. Do they not realize that Mac means “son of” in the Irish language?”

(snark) And if we lived in Ireland and spoke Irish, that would matter. (/snark)

I don’t really get the interest in the “meaning” of names, anyway. It means something by virtue of being derived from a root word in a particular language. If you don’t speak that language, then why do you care? It’s like Feng Shui. Red is considered a good color because it means something in Chinese culture. If it doesn’t mean that to you, then what’s the big deal? Unless you live in an area where a bunch of people speak a particular language and your child’s name means something rude in that language. Then you need to care.

And just so you know, R. declared that our best course was to name our future son Thor and our daughter Kojak. He’s so fired.

3 thoughts on “And On The Playground Mock Them

  1. Suebob

    Yeah, what a great post that was. I trashed the name of my BlogHer roommate’s daughter (Kaitlynn). Foot. Mouth. Now permanently together.

  2. JPed

    What’s wrong with Thor? We drew our names from the officially authorized Norwegian names list put out by the Norwegian stats bureau. If the name you want isn’t on the list, I think you have to petition to be allowed to name a child born in Norway as, say, Kaitlynn. Or Apple.

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