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Weird Kids' Names — I Believe We've Finally Crossed A Line

Posted on:  February 2nd, 2011  by  Ramona |  5 Comments

I was introduced to a child earlier this week called Lexus — yes, you heard me right, Lexus (as in the overpriced car.) It took every ounce of my very limited self-control to choke back the laughter when mom told me her kid's reverse eponym (but somehow I managed!) With a name like “Ramona,” you know I'm all for interesting and unusual nomenclature — how boring the world were be if we were all called “Jane” or “John.” But I think we've crossed a line somewhere here along the way!

Are You Defined By Your Name?

It seems that folks can't just give their kids a traditional moniker anymore — they have to come up with something UNIQUE so their child will stand out in the world (I guess if you're named “Mark” or “Steve,” you just have to get by on your own merits!) Let's start with homophonics — can I just say how weary I've grown of folks intentionally over-spelling what is otherwise pronounced as an entirely normal name? Adding 12 extra letter to his handle will not make your child more “special” — all it's going to do is screw with the poor kid's understanding of phonics and confuse everyone with whom he comes into contact! An entire generation of young people named “Karryllinne,” “Andruw,” “Elyzibythe,” “Ginapher,” “Krystofer,” “Suezynn,” and “Kenadeigh” are going to spend half their lives explaining their alphabetical deviance to people. I would hate to be a first-grade teacher these days calling roll — “Mackenzie, Mykenzie, Mekenzie, Makinzy, Makynzi, Mckenzee, and Mackanzie!” Wink

There are also a few other modern naming conventions that I find unreasonably disturbing:

  • apostrophization (this is the evil alter-ego of over-spelling, removing an entirely useful vowel and replacing it with an apostrophe — as in “Cam'ron” or “D'nielle”)
  • mis-translation (Anglo-Americans have never had a good grasp on native languages, and nowhere is that more true than in the use of “foreign” words for baby names — I wonder if  Tom Cruise will be disappointed to learn that “Suri” actually means “pickpocket” in Japanese, “turned sour” in French, and “horse mackerels” in Italian? –  and FYI, “Dakota” does not translate as “friend” the way the white man always assumed — it's just the name of a tribe, and calling your kid “Dakota” is like calling him “Frenchman”– I've even seen numerous mentions of a woman who's had to go through life as “Quo Vadis Jones” — but if you're going to ask where I'm headed every time you call my name, I prefer “где Вы движение Smith” — why does no one label their kids with Cyrillic lettering anymore??)
  • hybrids (I'm all for naming your child after someone you admire or want to honor — but I might have to draw the line at combining half of one word with half of another to come up with an entirely new moniker — how would you like to be known as “Scothew” “Delphine,” “Camianne,” “Sharmonica, “Wadine,” “Brandnel,” “Tylera,” or “Alliwen??”)
  • fake foreign languages (these seem to be just made up out of thin air, usually because they sound like words from another culture, even though there is no clear ethnic origin — “Kaytaquana,” “Huvven,” “Woakam,” “Shaynelna,” “Euwher,” “Iluhad,” “Joofenkel,” “Karlakenya,” “Jofwern,” “Opiuren,” “Karjovon,” “Jaslera,” “Puj,” “Yubjibi,” “Breedee,” and “Shairani” are all impressive, but “Dayzunique Tylettrell Deiondrianiece” is my favorite!)

Pick A Word, Any Word

Of course, people have been naming their kids after nouns for centuries — but I've noticed a bit of bias going on with our choice of taxonomy. “Daisy” and “Rose” top the list of flowers — why do you never see a child called “Venus Flytrap” or “Bladderwort?” Months like “April” and “June” are favorites, but “October” and “December” are getting the short shrift. And semi-precious stones such as “Ruby” and “Opal” sound exotic — but we tend to ignore “Quartz” and “Hematite” as options for a birth certificate. Discrimination! The same issue crops up with places — why are “Malibu,” “Arizona,” and “Florida” acceptable, but not “Rhode Island” or “Walla Walla” or “Schenectady?” And then there are those folks so passionate about their mission in life that they name their kids after relevant inanimate objects. “Rain” and “River” are popular with naturalists and eco-activists — so wouldn't it make sense for a plumber to call his kid “U-Bend” and a gynecologist to have a son named “Speculum?” Maybe those aren't “pretty” enough for a child's name. But following that logic, you have to admit that “Abbatoir” is actually a lovely lyrical word — perfect for a meat-packer's daughter! Wink

Seriously, if any nice-sounding word is up for grabs (and folks clearly don't always care about meaning), why are some parts of the English language left out in the cold? When I was in high school, my band director told us an urban legend about a woman who read a health magazine in the labor and delivery waiting room, was inspired by the article, and subsequently named her twins (phonetically) “Si-FAHYL-us” and “Guh-NAWR-ee-uh” — actually “syphilis” and “gonorrhea.” It was meant to be a joke, but I wouldn't be surprised these days to find some poor child walking around out there named after an STD! Any “Ramona Quimby” fans out there? I (for good reason) loved these books as a child. But when Ramona called her doll “Chevrolet,” her sister Beezus said you couldn't name a doll after a car — well I actually found a child named “Impala Sedan” on the web, so I guess the rules have changed. Lexus is bad enough — but the first time I meet an American kid  named “Honda” or “Toyota,” I'm expatriating!

Another misguided trend is naming children after a personality trait that you would like them to exhibit. Attempting to shape your offspring through the power of nomenclature is guaranteed to backfire — call your kid “Chastity” and you're just asking for a teen pregnancy, “Charity” is destined to be a greedy bitch, “Amity” won't have a friend in the world,” and “Felicity” will turn out moody and depressed. And it's not just the girls that get strapped with these sorts of monikers — I've seen boys named “Marvelous” (really?), “Infinite” (probably as in ways-to-get-in-trouble), “Casanova” (buy the boy some condoms), and “Dominant” (good luck disciplining him!) Even less-specific characteristics like “Destiny,” “Solace,” “Serenity,” and “Harmony” just put too much damned pressure on a kid — talk about having to live up to your name!

And then you've got the folks who doom their kids from birth by choosing any old random word, without an ounce of regard for the future playground fights that kid will have to endure thanks to a careless prenatal decision. I promise I am not making these up (they were all submitted for approval by moms-to-be at various baby-naming discussion boards on the web) — “Attica” (I personally prefer “Alcatraz”), “Banner” (???),  “Palomino” (is he covered in birthmarks?), “Oleo” (you'd think a healthier choice would be “Smart Balance”), “Nadir” (at least you aren't setting the bar too high), “Karma” (is that asking for trouble or what?), “Abyss” (you stare at him and he stares back at you), and “Meander” (this child is never going to get anywhere in life.) Please don't make me have to lobby for legislation!

Of course the celebrities are the worst at baby-name picking — but you know they're usually just looking for media attention:

  • “Moon Unit” and “Dweezil” Zappa were probably the first big-time loony celebrity names (there was also another kid named “Diva Muffin” that you never really heard about — Frank did a lot of drugs in the 60's)
  • Donovan (do you remember the “Hurdy Gurdy Man” song?) burdened one of his kids with the celestial moniker “Oriole Nebula” (Ione Skye is his child too, from another marriage — but he's Scottish so we'll cut him some slack for that one)
  • activist and Nobel Peace Prize nominee Bob Geldof has a daughter named “Fifi Trixibell” (is she a poodle?)
  • I'm sure Gwyneth Paltrow sees her daughter as the “Apple” of her eye, but did she have to name her that? (actually, she told Oprah, “It sounded so sweet and it conjured such a lovely picture for me — you know, apples are so sweet and they're wholesome and it's biblical — and I just thought it sounded so lovely and clean.” — brilliant!)

  • Shannyn Sossamon has doomed her poor son by calling him “Audio Science” (he'll probably get a job installing car stereos when he grows up)
  • Ginger Spice's daughter is must answer to “Bluebell Madonna” (sounds like she's destined to become the patron saint of quality ice cream)
  • another famous Brit soccer player David Beckham has decided his son should be named after a NYC borough (would he find it just as ridiculous if I named my kid “Lewisham” as I do hearing his kid called “Brooklyn?”)
  • Sly's daughter is sure to begin practicing the pagan arts at some point in her life with a name like “Sage Moonblood” (some people simply should not be allowed in the New Age section of the bookstore!)
  • tennis star Arthur Ashe named his daughter “Camera” because her mother's a photographer (I'm so glad none of my organizer friends have named a child “Folder” or “Calendar” or “Labeler!”)
  • Jermaine Jackson's son must have been beaten up once or twice over being named “Jermajesty” (you thought Michael was the weird one, but it's clearly something genetic with that whole family)
  • I do love Penn Jillette of Penn And Teller, but I'm not sure if I could forgive my dad for calling me “Moxie Crime Fighter” (although it's definitely one of the better names to have to live up to!)
  • the Duran Duran lot have in interesting collection of children — including “Saffron Sahara” and “Tallulah Pine”
  • Roger Taylor of Queen is not to be outdone — two of his children are named “Rufus Tiger” and “Tiger Lily (got a bit of a tiger fetish, there?)
  • but I think Michael Hutchence from INXS takes the cake — his daughter has to go through life known as “Heavenly Hiraani Tiger Lily” (no real surprise, considering he had this kid with the mother of Fifi Trixibell!)

I'm ready for a return to more classical monikers — if anyone is interested in naming their child D'Artagnan, Othello, or Lucifer I'm prepared to back you up on it!

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Ramona Creel is an award-winning 15-year veteran organizer and member of the National Association Of Professional Organizers. As well as having birthed “The A-To-Z Of Getting Organized,” Ramona is also the author of “The Professional Organizer’s Bible: A Slightly Irreverent And Completely Unorthodox Guide For Turning Clutter Into A Career”—and the creator of more than 200 “quick-start” business tools and templates for use by productivity professionals. She writes seven different blogs, has worked with hundreds of clients, and has delivered scores of presentations on getting organized. Ramona resides on the roads of America as a full-time RVer—living and working in a 29-foot Airstream with The Husbert and two fur-babies. Learn more at GettingOrganizedAToZ.com and RamonaCreel.com.

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5 Responses

  1. Cheryl says:

    Delphine is actually a fairly common, mainstream girls’ name in French…(from the 70s, but still, I know 3-4 of them.

    There was a site, badbabynames.com , that stopped being updated, but there’s enough there to make you laugh HARD for several hours!

  2. Ramona says:

    I can see Delphine as being of French derivation. But the context in which I saw it used was a combination of the grandpa’s name (Delbert) and the grandma’s (Josephine) — and that’s just wrong!

  3. Chris says:

    I can remember when Frank Zappa naming his children “Moon Unit” and “Dweezil” was considered weird — that probably seems tame nowadays! ;)

  4. Michaela says:

    Rufus Tiger is actually the child of a different Roger Taylor – from Queen. Several of his kids have weird names.

  5. Ramona says:

    Thanks for the correction — I’ll fix that ASAP (I double-checked, and this child has apparently been attributed to each Roger Taylor in different sources!)

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