What’s in a name?


I had accepted a grade 1/2 assignment for today due to the trouble I had earlier in the week getting jobs. It’s slightly below my comfort zone because of the 1st grade students. However, had I not taken it I wouldn’t have this to write about! Well, it’s not much of a topic, but it is a little different. Not much really goes into naming kids these days in Western culture. We choose a name usually because we had a relative with that name, there was a role model with that name (such as in the Bible) or we just like the sound of it. Once upon a time, and still in some cultures names carry meaning. But that’s not what this post is about. It’s also not about people who try to change names for special recognition.

What it’s about is why some parents choose to give their kids names that, well, just don’t fit… I once read a story about new guardians who would go to court to get kids’ names changed because their parents cursed them with ridiculous names, like the drug-shot parents who named their daughter Cocaina (guess which was their drug of choice?) or the parents who tried to name their child Friday. The name itself may not be ridiculous, but rather given to the wrong gender. I mean, do such parents regret having the “wrong sex” and give them the name they picked out anyway- like the parents who really wanted a boy so when they had a girl they dressed her up like a boy until she was to start school (and were mystified when she refused to put on a dress for her first day of school)? Of course there are some names that go both ways, at least the shortened version like Chris, Alex, Terry, etc. And I am still getting used to Leslie and Cameron being both male and female names. However, some just don’t work. Can you imagine a girl named Matt or Mike? Or a boy named Elizabeth or Jessica? Well, you may have to have some Hispanic blood to understand this one, but a boy in the class I was in today was named Guadalupe. That’s right. Named after Mary in the Bible as Our Lady of Guadalupe (well, an apparition of Mary, but I won’t split hairs). Apparently a very popular name for girls (click the name for more information). Why?? This is just setting up this boy for future problems with schoolmates. I predict that by the time he is in Junior High he will be going by his middle name, whatever it is, assuming that it too isn’t a girl’s name. I really hope it isn’t for his sake.

Not enough links for you in the above post? Try out these unusual names on Wikipedia. I had forgotten that Nicholas Cage had named his son Kal-El (you know, Superman)!

11 thoughts on “What’s in a name?”

  1. I must admit I liked the wikipedia link to the unusual names. I read a story once about parents who regretted the names they themselves had chosen, so they called the child something else and years later they went to court to legally change them. Being the parent of a child with a very unusual name – Disney – I have to say that we’ve endured lots of strange looks, smirks, and hearing about the occasional criticism made behind our backs. But, I can’t say it matters, I still love the name, it’s very cute, and it totally fits the child. Every day that goes by has me glad we chose it. Besides, LOTS of people have also said how much they like it, as if it matters what others think. If she really doesn’t like it, when she’s 18, she can legally change it or even choose to go by something else sooner. It might be a coincidence, but out of 3 children, she is by far the happiest and best-tempered baby! As for poor Guadalupe, maybe it was a family name? I hope he fares well in school… kids can be cruel, especially when it comes to boys being named girly things.

  2. Indeed. I have to admit, I’m a little uncomfortable with Disney’s name, though it is of course your wish to name her so. I didn’t even think of her when I wrote this- if it upsets you I apologize. As for Guadalupe, I couldn’t even bring myself to say his name for most of the day. I guess sometimes unusual names throw me a bit.

  3. And I’m glad to hear of her even-tempered-ness, especially after #2 (still loved the same of course, even if she *is* more difficult to work with)…

  4. I like Apple. Zoey. Moon Unit. Soleil Moon (sun and moon). How about that Nicolas Cage… must have been regret over not getting the Superman gig. Of course could you even picture Nicolas in the role?

  5. WOW…. He must have gone under the Superman curse without even donning the cape. Have to see what happens to Brandon Routh if Man of Steel ever gets made. But that is going off topic… sorry.

  6. no offense taken… I’m sure lots of people think it’s strange… but the name is special to us, it’s very cute, and I know of all too many stories of kids trying to “prove” their uniqueness in life by doing unhealthy and dangerous things. She already has a little bit of uniqueness built in… and she won’t be like Taylor, who, along with the other Taylors in her class, had to think of a nickname for herself to go by in class because there are 3 Taylor’s in a class of 18! Two are Taylor B’s!

  7. What’s in a name… Not much. A name is simply an identifier, nothing more. Had history dictated such, my name could easily be 109288818A. But we, as humans, like to attach meaning to anything we can. So, names become another way for us to add meaning to our lives.

  8. The “Superman curse” is the idea that any actor who has ever played the Man of Steel is prone to typecasting, death of career, or worse. Started with George Reeves following the 50s tv series (“suicide” shortly after the series ended b/c he was typecast terribly… no one would hire the actor who played Superman). To Christopher Reeve’s accident. To Dean Cain’s no-where career following Lois and Clark. Totally circumstantial.

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