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I’ll tell you what’s in a name!

Parents have so much power. Sometimes too much! With one decision they can seal their child’s fate for an indeterminate period of time. When he starts dating, if he’s a popular kid or if he’s bullied by the popular kids, if he’s accepted to MIT, if he has a shitty nickname – often a referral to body parts, and so on.

Parents get to choose their child’s name. And a name can stigmatize a child for life! I know what you’re thinking: there are things far more important than a name, as master Shakespeare so elegantly put it, like education, or boundaries, or role models, or how much money you give them as allowance or if they’re fashion-sensible. But actually all that is so insignificant, so minuscule in importance compared to the burden of a bad name.

I cannot, not through the wildest stretch of my mental abilities fathom the reasons behind people like Geri Halliwell or Tom Cruise or Emma Thompson’s choice of names for their offspring. I found this article in Times magazine detailing the craziest celebs baby names. In case you’re too lazy to click the link, here are some that make me go “COME ON!”

Audio Science: Shannyn Sossamon (!!!)
Brooklyn: David and Victoria Beckham
Fifi Trixibell: Bob Geldof and Paula Yates
Fuchsia: Sting and Frances Tomelty
Gaia: Emma Thompson and Greg Wise
Gulliver: Gary Oldman and Donya Fiorentino
Ireland: Alec Baldwin and Kim Basinger
Rocket: Robert Rodriguez
Sage Moonblood: Sylvester Stallone and Sasha Czack
Tallulah: Bruce Willis and Demi Moore

First of all, I’m not even going to spend 1 single Joule  typing anything about the first one. Second of all, why would you name your kid after a neighborhood, or a country? How is that kid going to write his address on an envelope? Huh? Did you think you’re possibly jeopardizing all correspondence that child will ever want to carry out? And Fifi? really? Sounds like a poodle’s name… but I may be overly picky as usual. If naming your girl Gaia seems like a good idea, why not go with Zeus if it’s a boy? Just for fun or the sake of staying in the same mythological sphere. I’m willing to put some money on the fact that someone has at least thought of Zeus as a potential name, if not actually used it.

I guess in my infinite mercy and open-mindedness I can find one excuse for these people: they’re struck by Hollywood fever and the never-ending quest for originality and thrills. Let’s leave them be.

But what about ordinary people with extraordinarily stupid names? And there’s loads of those. We just don’t know them because we don’t see them chased by paparazzi or showing up on Oprah and bragging about how they lost their baby weight.

A while back I heard on TV something about how some gypsies who called their son Napoleon and their daughter Supernova. Now what I ask is this: “suppose Supernova wants to become an astronaut. Do you think she’ll be accepted at NASA?”


What’s in a name? that which we call a rose
By any other name would smell as sweet…

(Romeo and Juliet)

Gaspesie Day 6-133cropped

Comments (1)

  • Sure, names go through fad periods.

    Once, I had someone tell me about how scientists would visit remote African villages to teach the people there about the cosmos (for example). Afterwards, many of the mothers would name their newborn after planets or nebulas.

    I think you’re right that parents have to be careful about choosing a name, but it’s not always that simple. For example, should immigrant parents choose a white/Western name for their child? Growing up, I knew plenty of kids with names like ‘Wang’ who were teased mercilessly. Or there is also the example of ‘Phuc’, which in Vietnamese means luck, but which can be a source of amusement/mocking for Western people.

    What IS normal? When people say ‘normal’, what they usually mean is a Christian (or similar) name like Adam or Alex.

    By the way, ‘Fifi’ is a more common name than you think. According to Google, it’s of French origin and short for Josephine. I did know a male ‘Fifi’ growing up. Quite popular and well liked — I don’t think he had any trouble with his name.


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