What’s In A Name?

Call me old fashioned, but I believe naming a small human is right up there with a strong eyebrow shape and good dental hygiene in terms of importance and the consequences of getting (either) wrong are huge. Apparently this sentiment extends beyond the naming of little people; as the kerfuffle around the naming of the most recent addition to the fleet of Sydney Ferries has shown. Ferry McFerryface will now be proudly moored alongside its ferry peers … the likes of Fred Hollows, Dawn Fraser and Victor Chang … which got me to thinking … should the objective of a name be to blend in to or stand out from the crowd?

Whilst I’ve never been required to name an inanimate object, I have had some experience with a couple of kids and a menagerie of animals … the monikers for whom have all erred on the side of conservative. I’ve already got a Grace and a Thomas and if I were ever to appear on the front cover of New Idea as the oldest woman alive to have more kids … then I’d totally go with Mabel, Ned and Noah … all solid old people’s names that have stood the test of time and would work equally well for a high powered exec, environmental activist or Hollywood A lister … Let’s face it, who knows where they’ll end up?

I’m not a huge fan of concocting names that no one has used before … Hello? … There’s a reason for that! Nor do I advocate naming your child after a piece of fruit, a number, a colour, a compass point or a day of the week. This is the first of many big decisions you’ll be making ON BEHALF of your child. So start strong …. Coz god knows you’ll be sure to stuff up some other biggies down the track.

I always have a chuckle when celebs come up with ridiculous names followed by statements like “we plan on giving Rocket Racer a normal childhood out of the limelight and craziness that is LA” … really??? ….. you think Rocket Racer was a down low choice that will afford him the anonymity you so desire? A couple of other corkers are Frank Zappa’s kids; Dweezil, Moon Unit and Diva Muffin …. (for real)… or try John Cougar’s son; Spec Wildhorse. Seriously? Two words … child abuse.

Aside from the fact that your kid has to live with their assigned name for the rest of his or her life, the name you choose also says a lot about you. Sure, it’s totally subjective, but hey, who hasn’t summarily dismissed someone on the basis of his or her child’s name. “Would you like to meet my friend Jermajesty’s mum?” … “No thanks.” Newsflash: just because it’s “unique” doesn’t make it cool or good. In an attempt to be idiosyncratic are we stigmatising a generation of kids with ridiculous names?

Not that I’m advocating myself to be the arbiter of good taste when it comes to names … but here is my checklist of things to consider before naming a person.

  1. Phonetically spelt names should be avoided at all costs. Never ok people.
  2. Following on from point one … Spell your chosen name (whatever it is) in the way people expect it to be spelt or subject your child to a lifetime of “no … that’s Glen with two n’s”
  3. ‘Regional’ names to which you hold no association are another no-no. Don’t call your kid Guido or Lorenzo unless your Italian …. You’ll just sound like a nob.
  4. Then there’s the dilemma of sibling names having to match. You can’t do a “Willow” followed by a “Jane” or an “Ignatious” followed by a “David”
  5. If it’s a future princess your naming, then history would suggest that ‘traditional’ men are attracted to ‘traditional’ names. Take Mary, Kate, Diana and Grace for example …. not a Heavenly Hirani Tigerlilly amongst them!
  6. Adjectives are describing words (they qualify a noun, not replace it) … so don’t use one to name your child. Sunny, Blue, True, North, Loyal … all bad.
  7. Always check initials for unfortunate acronyms – FU, BFF, BMW, LOL, JK (and the list goes on) should be avoided.
  8. Hyphenated first names are not good. Mary-Lou, Lisa-Marie, Mary-Kate .. all a bit American cheerleader for my liking.
  9. I don’t care how aristocratic your family is …. Never subject your son to “William the 3rd” …. Bad enough he has to share his name with half his immediate family; don’t add insult to injury and make him sound like a complete tool.
  10. No matter how much you like the name … it has to work with your surname … My maiden name was Taylor … very happy my parents decided against Jenna.

PS … from now on I will be known as Ang McAngface

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