There’s a Rising Tide of Children Sporting Bizarre Names in School

Here’s a list of names selected by teachers who are increasingly aware of a rising tide of bizarre names (many of which were impossible to spell-check) in their school system.* I found the list in an article by Stephanie Masters published in the Courier Mail.

To help you see how eclectic this list is, I’ve tried to organize the names by categories, starting with “Altered Spellings” of recognizable names and “Alphabet Soup.” Parents also picked names that reflected: “Abstract Ideas,” ways to say “You Are Loved,” a list of “Personal Qualities,” and “Things.”

FYI, all these unusual names were found in the schools of Logan City*:

Altered Spellings: Baylea, Bayleigh, Ceasar, Darian, Emmerson, Izack, Kaelani, Khaileb, Leilesha, Mikaah, Millieka, Romaine, Santiana, Shaylani, Tanyce, Zenen,

Alphabet Soup: Alareal, Ataria Avantika, Caylis, Jadzia, Jetiis, Jezzer, Kahu, Kalaize, Khynan, Kovee, Narvasha, Qaira, Shizia, Taylay,

Abstract Ideas: Australasia, De ja Vu, Freedom, Heritage, Styles,

You Are Loved: Cherish, De ja Vu, Miracle, Precious,

Personal Qualities: Beautiful, Bravado, Brilliance, Felicitas, Gorgeous, Twinkle,

Things: Hawke, Sapphire, L-Car (pronounced Ledashcar), Psalmz,

Now that you’ve read the names, you may enjoy a few quotes from Masters’ article:

One teacher who had worked in Logan for more than 20 years said she had seen names become more bizarre over the years. “It’s like a competition as to who can come up with the most unique, bizarre name,” she said. “We don’t see John Smith or Mark Brown anymore – those names are long gone.” The teacher said while many children in Year 1 often had difficulty learning to spell their own name, no one batted an eyelid during roll call. “Sometimes it’s a matter of taking a deep breath and trying not to laugh. “These children do have to grow up to be adults and most of the ones with unusual names will have to spell them out for the rest of their lives.”

*No, Logan City is not located in America; it’s a city in Southeastern Australia—in the vicinity of Brisbane. Does that surprise you?

Names Like Tom, Dick and Harry Won’t Prevent your Baby Boy from Getting a Wedgie in High School

I enjoyed reading an excerpt from Tom  Purcell’s book Comical Sense: A Lone Humorist Takes on a World Gone Nutty!  I think you’ll enjoy it too, because it’s an amusing blend of humor and advice.

Notice I didn’t say I agreed with it. Purcell’s thesis seems to be: Don’t give your child an ostentatious name, because that will motivate your son’s high-school classmates to give him wedgies. (Do girls’ get wedgies? I think not. So Purcell’s “logic” only applies to 50% of the population.) Instead, give your child a completely ordinary name from the 30’s, 40’s, 50’s 60’s, 70’s or 80s so he fits right in (or so nobody pays any attention to him) and he won’t get any wedgies.

Here’s the part of his article that amused me.

 “According to The Wall Street Journal, parents are obsessing over what to name their kids. They’re hiring consultants, applying mathematical formulas and software programs and even bringing in nutty spiritualist types. One couple hired a pair of consultants to draw up a list of suggestions based on “phonetic elements, popularity and ethnic and linguistic origins.” One woman paid a “nameologist” $350 for three half-hour phone calls and a personalized manual describing each name’s history and personality traits. Another spent $475 on a numerologist to see if her favorite name had positive associations, whatever the heck that means. Why the obsession over children’s names? One baby-naming expert says that we live in a market-oriented society. That by giving your kid the right name — the right branding, if you will — he or she will have a head start in life. Oh, brother.”

And here’s the part of his article I agreed with:

“If you really want your kid to be special, a name is not going to do it. Your kid is going to have to earn it. She is going to have to work hard and sacrifice. She’ll have to try and fail and eventually find her place — find whatever she’s good at — and then work harder to develop her talents. It will be easier to do that if she is humble. And it will be easier for her to be humble if she doesn’t have a name that makes her think she’s precious and special and God’s gift to the universe (such as Nevaeh, which is heaven spelled backward).”

I hope you enjoy Tom Purcell’s article too. But realize this: Names that were popular in the 30s, 40s, 50s, 60s, 70s and 80s won’t magically help your child  become popular in high school or, at the very least, ward off wedgies 15 years from now. So don’t unthinkingly give your child a name that worked well for your brothers and sisters (or worse, your grandparents* or your uncles and aunts).

So, if your main goal is to avoid winding up with a high-school kid who gets wedgies, make up your mind to screen  past and current names–searching for names likely to be cool about 15 years from now. Of course I’d suggest avoiding nerdy names like Albert, Arnold and Mortimer. But 15 years from now, a boy named Beckett just might be the popular guy who gives wedgies to kids with boring name from the past.

*Did you read my post about the name Jenna Bush picked for her baby girl? She picked Margaret Laura (“Mila”). Margaret and Laura were the paternal and maternal grandmothers’ names. Mila is a cool name that Jenna (and everyone else, except perhaps the grandmas) will call the child. Fifteen years from now, Mila will be telling Beckett whether Tom, Dick or Harry should get a wedgie.

Romney Family Adopts A Black Baby Named Kieran; The “Usual Suspects” Are Upset About It

It’s worth reading the brief opinion piece by Jessica Wakeman to find out what people are upset about. Here’s a snippet: “Some folks on Twitter are upset that in Gaelic, the name Kieran means ‘black,’ ‘little dark one,’ or ‘dark skinned.’” However, reading between the lines of Wakeman’s article in “Frisky” magazine, it’s likely that the kind of people who are uncomfortable with an African-American president are also uncomfortable that a member of the extended Romney family has adopted a non-Caucasian baby.

Wikipedia’s article about the Irish population mentions  “black Irish” as a historical term that most commonly refers to people with dark hair (who may have fair skin and blue eyes or, less commonly, brown eyes and a Mediterranean complexion). It’s not clear whether dark-haired Irishmen resulted from remnants of the defeated Spanish Armada or from Spanish and Portuguese traders who populated Ireland with some dark-haired descendants.

Kieran is certainly an appropriate name for a boy with dark hair (and a darker complexion than most Irishmen). Similarly, Jennifer and Blanche are appropriate choices for girls with blonde hair and “fair” complexions; and Russell is an appropriate choice for a red-haired boy. (That’s why it makes sense to make the final name choice after the baby has been born.)

The whole “controversy” looks to me like a “tempest in a tea pot,” if you get my drift.

Common-Sense Tips for Choosing Your Baby’s Name

DO’S

Pick a name that makes a positive first impression. That’s something your child needs on a blind date, a college application or a resume.

Pick a versatile name that can “grow” with your child. Different variations of the name can be appropriate for different stages of your child’s life–or in different (formal or informal) situations.

Pick a middle name that also provides a strong “fall-back” option. You never know when your child might need a new “handle.”

Pick a first and middle name combination that look and sound well with your last name. Make sure the initials work well too.

DON’TS

Avoid names that invite teasing. Test your “short list” of favorite names on kids for that purpose.

Avoid names that might embarrass your child. If a name you are considering causes your friends to laugh or say, “You must be kidding,” it’s time to stop joking about your child’s name.

Avoid names that are on the latest top-10 popularity list. Names that are “too popular” create the impression you are following the crowd. (In all likelihood you probably are–without even knowing it.)

Avoid names that are hard to spell and/or pronounce. They won’t make your child “unique” or “special”; they are more likely to be a source of frustration.

Avoid names that are confusing as to gender; especially if they are more often used for the other gender.

Avoid names whose literal meaning is not appropriate for your child. For example, if your child has a dark complexion, don’t pick a name that means “white” or “fair” like Jennifer or Blanche. Or, if the reverse, don’t pick Raven or Ebony.

BE CAREFUL

Be careful when picking an unusual or uncommon name. Make extra sure friends, acquaintances and strangers perceive the name as “cool” or “charming” rather than “crazy” or “weird.”

Be careful about names your family, ethnic or religious tradition suggests to you. It’s more important to find a name that will work well for your child than to pick a name that pleases a relative or clergyman.

A Celebrity Baby Name That’s Unusual but Charming; How Rare!

Channing (“White House Down”) Tatum and wife Jenna Dewan-Tatum named their baby girl Everly Elizabeth Maiselle Tatum back in May. The only reason I’m writing about it now is because it’s so rare to find celebrities with the taste (and judgment) to pick an unusual, but charming name.

I’m referring to Everly, an English surname that means “from the grazing meadow.” My familiarity with the name stems from my affection for the Everly Brothers, who popularized “Bye Bye Love” and “Wake Up Little Suzie” about a billion years ago.

I understand that two nicknames is a naming trend popular in Britain, mainly because it heightens couples’ ability to accommodate more than one family obligation–which often perpetuates poorly-matched names unlikely to be of any interest or use to the child. As it happens, Elizabeth and Maiselle were the names of Jenna’s grandmothers*. I’ll say this: Elizabeth is one of the most versatile names ever; hence, it’s a great source of fall-back options should Everly feel the need. Maiselle is unique (in a good way) and provides another interesting option. What a pleasure it is to see an original name from a celebrity that “sings.” (I confess: I never tire of hearing–and singing–the Everly Brothers’ songs.)

*This reminds me of two posts I wrote about another Jenna’s grandmothers: “The Name Jenna and Henry Picked for Their Baby Girl: a Mystery, Part 1” and “The Name Jenna and Henry Picked for Their Baby Girl: a Mystery, Part 2.”

Hawaiian Woman With 36-Letter Name Wins 21-Year Battle to Have It Printed on Government Documents

Here’s an interesting BBC story (see link below) about a woman who acquired a name with 36 letters and 19 syllables in 1992 via marriage. (Her maiden name was Worth.) Janice Keihanaikukauakahihuliheekahaunaele’s name is so long, it will not fit on government documents. So, she has been fighting the government for 21 years for the right to have her married name printed on her driver’s license. Apparently, she’s finally succeeded.

If you like stories about people fighting for their rights, you may enjoy the article. As noble as her cause may be, I’m an advocate of selecting names that create a positive impression and that are a pleasure to use every day for the child, the parents (and in this case) for the wife. Clearly, her married surname has been more of a struggle or burden than pleasure.

Instead of shortening the name so it would work better for her and others, she chose to fight. I wonder if she’ll be as happy now as she was before she won the right to have her un-spellable and un-pronounceable name printed on government documents.

One of the issues that comes up in dating is how “geographically desirable” the person you’ve just met might be for you. Now I realize that there is another issue in dating that is worth considering: whether the person you just met is onomastically desirable.

BBC News – Long-named US woman celebrates government climb-down.

New Tennessee Judge Rules Baby Messiah Can Keep His Name

Judge Telford E. Forgety, Jr. of Tennesse has ruled that baby Messiah can keep his name. He reversed the ruling by Tennessee Judge Lu Ann Ballew who ruled that Messah wasn’t a name; it was a title. She believes there is only one Messiah (Jesus Christ), and no one else can use that title.

Judge Forgety made the ruling on the basis of the “establishment clause” of the U.S. Constitution which holds that the U.S. Government is prohibited from favoring one religion over another.

What it all boils down to is that Messiah DeShawn McCullough is now the legal name of a 7-month old baby whose mother picked the name Messiah because she thought it went well with his last name, “McCullough.” Of course, there’s no evidence to support the claim that Messiah goes any better with McCullough than Martin (the name Judge Ballew gave the child).

Many other countries around the world have laws that govern which names are fit for children and which aren’t. But Americans aren’t prohibited from giving their children pompous names like Messiah, King, or Prince. In fact, the popularity of all three names were among the fastest rising names on the top-1,000 boys’ list for 2012 published by the Social Security Administration, which keeps track of which names are “hot” and which names are “not,” but doesn’t favor one Messiah over another.

Makes you wonder what kind of people would give their child a name that had absolutely no basis in reality. I suppose the answer to that question is self-evident, if you give it a little thought. But I’d rather give you the pleasure of figuring it out for yourself.