Wednesday, July 28, 2010

A Rose By Any Other Name...

would... be... something else.

Names matter. I've made a hobby of learning about names- origins, meanings, you name it, I know it (or can at least look it up in one of my, ahem, six name books). I've used naming my own children as an excuse to continue looking up and pairing up names that I don't need and won't ever use. You don't have to tell me it's weird, I know.

There's one baby name site, where people post polls for names they're trying to choose between, or to request help finding a good middle name to go with what they've chosen for a first. I frequently post suggestions, and I cannot tell you the joy it brings me when the next poll someone posts is to choose between two names I've suggested. I'm naming babies of total strangers, folks. Again, weird, I know.

It always fascinates me what people name their kids. There are so many great names to choose from. I love originality, but sentimentality is wonderful too. And then, sometimes I'm horrified when it's obvious someone didn't think through what the initials would spell, or the vile nicknames that are inevitable (hello, middle school), or even the meaning of their child's name. Wouldn't you want to know if you were naming your kid "muddy ditch" or "crooked nose" or something far worse?

I think the name thing started for me as a kid. My siblings are Craig, Kelly and Chris, and then there's me. The lone W sound. I never thought I was a Wendy. I went through a stage of telling my mom I would be changing my name once I turned 18. But I never could settle on a name that I thought was me. Then in grade six I attended a little private school, where there were names I had never encountered. Kaede (kai-day), Tinka, Khione, Haven and Zinnat were just a few, and then in high school, Marika, Ganga (gung-guh), Pia and Zoran... I had to know where they came from, what they meant, and the obsession grew.

Some name choices, I admit, I don't get. Naming your kid after a brand, like Lexus or Chanel, for instance. Or after a soap opera character, which may be the lowest form of baby naming. A quick perusing of an online list brings us little gems like Cricket, Babe, Boobsie (you think I'm kidding) and Seabone. That, friends, is all kinds of wrong.

It's always entertaining to me to see which names suddenly jump up or on to the "most popular" lists after celebrities use them. Vivienne, which is really a beautiful name (properly pronounced in French, it's 2 syllables, viv-yen, with the emphasis on the second syllable), was nowhere to be seen in the top 1000 names for years, then miraculously after Brangelina chose it for one of their brood, it debuted at #532 in 2009. I'm willing to bet we'll see a lot more Harlow's and Honor's in the next few years too. And Twilight-ers, do you think it's a coincidence that Isabella has held the number one or two spot for the last 3 years?

Names can be ruined or improved by association. If you've known someone really awful or weird, chances are you'd never use their name for one of your own kids, no matter how great a name it might be on its own. If you've only ever known beautiful Laurens and heavy Melissas, it will probably influence how you feel about those names. Names of spouses' exes are off-limits. Even pushy family members may feel the need to weigh in when they have strong feelings about someone they knew once with the name you're considering.

The bottom line is, kids are stuck with what we choose. They have no input in the choice of their name. And what seemed like a brilliant name for a baby may not sound so hot on a 55 year old.

Everyone will not love your name or your kids' names, and ultimately that doesn't matter. You'll be the one saying them thousands of times throughout your life. But a little research into the matter can't hurt. Seriously. Please.


Jackie said...

I have a fascination with names too. Not that you' d know it from my kids names. They're pretty common names, but the meanings are special. Like, Googie, obviously. ;-)

Comment on my blog.

JaNae said...

I love this
now what do you really think of my kids names ;)

Kristen said...

You're funny.

I have the PERFECT girl's name for our hopefully-future-daughter. So perfect that I haven't told anybody what it is. Because they might steal it. And it's rare enough that it would be obvious if someone stole it. It's cute and it has family meaning. Now I just need to get pregnant, have a girl, and convince my husband that he likes it too. =o)

And when that happens, you'll find out what the name is and wonder why I thought it was so great.

But it IS. Oh it's perfect. I just know she's coming. Or not. Maybe I can figure out a way to adapt it to a boy.

Englishfam said...

I love names too Wendy. I have strong feelings about what people name their children, but try to refrain from my opinions!

Wendy said...

Kristen, I have several more girls' names, and some of them I know people wouldn't like. Oh well.

JaNae, you know I love your kids' names. I love that you put a lot of thought into them too. :)

Jackie, I can't find Googie in any of my books...

Heather, I'm the same way unless someone asks. Sadly they almost never do... ;)

Kat said...

Wendy, if we have a boy, I have the name picked out already, but if we have a girl, I am so asking for your help with names. :) I love JaNae's name "Lily" and I might just have to use it.