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On Strange Names and the Curse of Individualism
Archdiocese of Washington ^ | December 7, 2012 | Msgr. Charles Pope

Posted on 12/08/2012 12:50:55 PM PST by NYer

Living and working the African American Catholic Community I have been subject to some time with names that are often unpronounceable. It is a controversial practice even in the Black community for parents to name their children all sorts of crazy, made-up names that are often intentionally misspelled.

DeQuanna, Sharkeisha, LaDarrius, Shamyra, Marketta, Shontella, LaRochelle, Shandrika, Charmonique, Myosha, LaKeisha, DeQuan, Rhondella, Raviona, Rominthia, Tomika, LaVenia, Trishela, LaTasha, ABCDE, Tyeisha, Mootron, Knoshon, Keyshawn, Tarquisha, Q’J'Q’Sha, Laquintas, Jamarcus, JoNathans, et al.

I trip over this especially at Baptisms when I am supposed to solemnly pronounce the name of the child. Even after the irritated mother tells me the third time, I still can’t get it right. But why be angry with me? Why name your child such a strange name? Its all so crazy. They put in apostrophes where none are needed and there seems a minor obsession with the letters ‘Q’ and ‘K’.

Now some may speak of racism, but I have been in the Black community too long to be deaf to the fact that an awful lot of African American folks hate the practice too.

Oddities are spreading to other ethnic groups too. In a recent article in The Atlantic Phillip Cohen writes:

The number of girls given the name Mary at birth has fallen 94 percent since 1961…..The modernization theory of name trends, advanced most famously by the sociologist Stanley Lieberson, sees the rise of individualism in modern naming practices. “As the role of the extended family, religious rules, and other institutional pressures declines,” he wrote, “choices are increasingly free to be matters of taste.” Mary—both a traditional American name and a symbol religious Christianity—embodies this trend.

Second, America’s Christian family standard-bearers are not standing up for Mary anymore. It’s not just that there may be fewer devout Christians, it’s that even they don’t want to sacrifice individuality for a (sorry, it’s not my opinion) boring name like Mary. In 2011 there were more than twice as many Nevaehs (“Heaven” spelled backwards) born as there were Marys. (If there is anything more specific going on within Christianity, please fill me in.)

The Full article can be read here: Why Don’t Parents Name their Daughters Mary Anymore

I have referred in this brief article to the “curse” of individualism, because frankly I think some of these names become a hindrance later in life and mothers trying to be creative and individualistic, often saddle their kids with troubles later. Frankly people don’t like to be embarrassed, and when someone tells you their name and you can’t pronounce it, or have to ask again, and even a third time, social relations, and things like job interviews tend to go badly. I mean how do you even pronounce Q’J'Q’Sha? A lot of things break down when you can’t even pass the “go” of exchanging names.

As you might expect, many of these children given strange names, end up going by other nick names. Like “Q” or Shawn or something easier. But really they should not have to, and their strange names will still have to come up at formal occasions and all the awkwardness. And even some of the names that are more pronounceable convey a kind of strangeness that makes people uncomfortable. While not necessarily fair, strange names convey an impression of the person who carries it. We tend to read a lot more in to names that perhaps we should, but the tendency is pre-conscious and is unlikely to change that much.

Interestingly, in Biblical times people were more creative with names than currently. However, they were careful to name their children with a name that was intelligible, that actually meant something. For example, Jesus means “God saves,” Michael means “Who is like God?” Sarah means “princess” and so forth. Thus, observing the essence of a child, the parents named the child on the eighth day after birth.

Controversial article? Sure. But don’t turn it into a race thing, there’s plenty of divided opinion in the African American community as well. Also if you feel offended, try not to take it personally. It is a cultural trend that is being critiqued, not you. The bottom line, in a culture where strange forms of individualism are increasing and exotica is proudly displayed by more and more, it’s good every now and then to ask about limits and encourage some moderation.

By the way, my name almost backward is Epop Selrach if your looking for a clever new name….for your pet, that is. :-)


TOPICS: Catholic; Current Events; Religion & Culture
KEYWORDS: childnames; children; childrensnames; daughter; daughters; girlsnames; mary; msgrcharlespope; names; namingyourchild; nicknames; saints
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To: loungitude
What no ‘Trayler’?


101 posted on 12/08/2012 6:53:47 PM PST by Lee N. Field ("And if you are Christ's, then you are Abraham's offspring, heirs according to promise" Gal 3:29)
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To: Revolting cat!
Forgotten? Not by me! I've read the Kristin trilogy twice, and I wish I had read it 10 years earlier when it would have given me some good sense --- oh dear, wasted youth.

I also tried the Master of Hestviken, much harder to get through. Keeping all the names and relationships srtaight required a more sophisticated technology than Index cards with tiny letters and arows :o/

The scene where Olav kills Teit the Icelander with his axe roiled through my imaginaton for a long time, though.

Yikes.

102 posted on 12/08/2012 6:54:13 PM PST by Mrs. Don-o (asdfg)
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To: This I Wonder32460
My own legal name is a nickname for a more formal name. My Mom thought the formal name was too long and they would call me the nickname anyway, so why bother naming me the formal name. The nickname would do. Thanks mom, not.

A good friend in high school was saddled with, as the legal name on his birth certificate, "Timmy".

Needless to say, he fixed it when he was old enough.

103 posted on 12/08/2012 6:58:29 PM PST by Lee N. Field ("And if you are Christ's, then you are Abraham's offspring, heirs according to promise" Gal 3:29)
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To: Mrs. Don-o
Forgotten? Not by me!

You know better than that. Forgotten, yes, like so many other Nobel Prize in lit winners. It's an old complaint about who still remembered should have gotten them, and who now forgotten actually got them. But it's like that society woman who said I think to William F. Buckley, (was it Pauline Kael?), that she didn't understand why Nixon was elected since no one she knew had voted for him. Our personal choices remain our personal choices. And the recent nominees such as the communists Dario Fo and Elfriede Jelinek will most certainly be soon forgotten.

104 posted on 12/08/2012 7:07:14 PM PST by Revolting cat! (Bad things are wrong! Ice cream is delicious!)
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To: Revolting cat!

Prob’ly all print books will be banned before The End: reading will be forbidden: too individualistic, too retrograde, bad gender themes, whiffs of alcohol, madness and Christ.


105 posted on 12/08/2012 7:34:16 PM PST by Mrs. Don-o (asdfg)
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To: mjp

You have no doubt found the probable reason.

Still a loving parent has an obligation to the child to not intentionally place hinderences in their life or to put the poor child into ackward positions and a lifetime of embarrasment. Then again its also easy to see a lot of these parents are not so loving of their children as can be witnessed most any day at any Walmart.


106 posted on 12/08/2012 7:38:18 PM PST by X-spurt (Ted Cruz for President of the Republic of Texas)
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To: Noumenon

Don’t forget that feminine favorite - Placenta.


107 posted on 12/08/2012 7:44:15 PM PST by Texas Songwriter ( i)
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To: NYer

The man I was with for a number of years, before he passed in September of this year, his first name, David, means “beloved”.


108 posted on 12/08/2012 7:45:08 PM PST by Biggirl ("Jesus talked to us as individuals"-Jim Vicevich/Thanks JimV!)
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To: Erasmus

Ahhhhh and the dear Moon Unit.

But we all knew that Frank just ate too much yellow snow.


109 posted on 12/08/2012 7:56:33 PM PST by X-spurt (Ted Cruz for President of the Republic of Texas)
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To: EDINVA

Somehow I doubt they named anyone Madison Madison.


110 posted on 12/08/2012 7:57:15 PM PST by Varda
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To: Mrs. Don-o

I had the misfortune this morning to observe a pair of, I guess, 80 year olds deciding on a Nook device inside a B&N store, while at the same time I am awaiting the arrival of about, I think, 5 more books from a couple of Internet bookstores to add to the pile by my bed. And now this Norwegian writer to check out?


111 posted on 12/08/2012 7:57:30 PM PST by Revolting cat! (Bad things are wrong! Ice cream is delicious!)
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To: NYer

ABCDE That one will be hard to spell wrong.


112 posted on 12/08/2012 8:05:08 PM PST by TruthWillWin (The problem with socialism is that you eventually run out of other peoples money.)
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To: NYer

Strange names? How about Meta World Peace?


113 posted on 12/08/2012 8:08:06 PM PST by TruthWillWin (The problem with socialism is that you eventually run out of other peoples money.)
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To: NYer

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=gODZzSOelss

Do not drink beverages while you watch this video.


114 posted on 12/08/2012 8:14:11 PM PST by bad company (There are no illegal guns, just undocumented firearms.)
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To: Salvation

There is a Louise in the Bible???

The Book of Louise?

Louise on the Mount?

Louise walking on water?

The Apostle Louise?


115 posted on 12/08/2012 8:40:10 PM PST by Chickensoup (Leftist Totalitarian Fascism coming to a country like yours.)
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To: Varda

??? I said there was a familial connection, but after a certain number of generations, there is a mix of family names. Do you have the same last name as your maternal great-grandmother? Or your 8x great grandfather? Yet, don’t you still have a familial connection to them? Or are you just trying to be obtuse?


116 posted on 12/08/2012 8:43:10 PM PST by EDINVA
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To: Mrs. Don-o

I read that.


117 posted on 12/08/2012 8:54:13 PM PST by Chickensoup (Leftist Totalitarian Fascism coming to a country like yours.)
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To: Chickensoup

St. Louis

Not biblical

Her first name is Janet

a form of Janice or Jean


118 posted on 12/08/2012 9:10:13 PM PST by Salvation ("With God all things are possible." Matthew 19:26)
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To: Yashcheritsiy

Saints — got it?


119 posted on 12/08/2012 9:13:25 PM PST by Salvation ("With God all things are possible." Matthew 19:26)
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To: NYer

“In 2011 there were more than twice as many Nevaehs (“Heaven” spelled backwards) born as there were Marys.”

Come on. But then I read the article...

“Incredibly, out of 1.7 million girls’ names recorded by the SSA in 2011, I was able to predict to within 87 how many would be named Mary. By simply taking the number born in 2010 and subtracting the 5-year average decline, I predicted 2,584 would be born; the actual number was 2,671 (an error of 3.3 percent).”

http://www.theatlantic.com/sexes/archive/2012/12/why-dont-parents-name-their-daughters-mary-anymore/265881/

I think the Nationals have two Tylers, three Ryans, a Jordan, a Drew, a Jayson, an Ian and a Bryce.

Freegards


120 posted on 12/08/2012 9:18:59 PM PST by Ransomed
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To: This I Wonder32460; Verginius Rufus
It's more common to use the mother's maiden name for the boy's middle name. Franklin Delano Roosevelt, John Fitzgerald Kennedy, and so on. The idea behind it is to honour the mother.

I'm one of those. My mother's maiden name was Mackenzie, and my full name is Daniel Mackenzie Ryan.

121 posted on 12/08/2012 9:21:47 PM PST by danielmryan
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To: jjotto
A few years ago at the Minnesota state girls high school basketball tourney, someone counted 14 variant spellings of ‘Caitlin’.

That's a LOL! At least there aren't as many ways to spell "Madison." (My pet peeve most-loathed girl name.)

122 posted on 12/08/2012 9:41:59 PM PST by Albion Wilde (Government can't redistribute talent, willpower, or intelligence, except through dictatorship.)
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To: Varda

How about Humbert Humbert?


123 posted on 12/09/2012 2:16:50 AM PST by Tony in Hawaii (Catch a wave and youre sittin' on top of the world...)
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To: Valpal1
Dorthea - Gift of God

Love that name...the name of several of my female ancestors..spelled slightly differently "Dorothea." One little bit of a girl traveled to America from Germany at the age of 18, all by herself to the middle of completely unsettled Iowa, to join her fiance. Her full given was named "Sophia Margaretha Dorothea Nitch" (but she was known as Dorothea)...a rare female name that was passed down for several generations.

My other favorite ancestral family name was a GG Grandmother, Celestia (Heavenly).

124 posted on 12/09/2012 3:05:04 AM PST by garandgal
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To: Mrs. Don-o
Prob’ly all print books will be banned before The End: reading will be forbidden: too individualistic, too retrograde, bad gender themes, whiffs of alcohol, madness and Christ.

Fahrenheit 451

125 posted on 12/09/2012 3:20:46 AM PST by Smokin' Joe (How often God must weep at humans' folly. Stand fast. God knows what He is doing)
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To: sean327

There used to be an Acquanetta - with the c to make it original - working at my local Walmart. Nice lady ... the other cashiers called her Aqua.


126 posted on 12/09/2012 3:26:20 AM PST by Tax-chick (More than you ever wanted to know, right?)
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To: NYer
I had a young college perfesser who was so proud of his doctorate work on "Individualism" that the made it the topic of the class.

I couldn't take it after a few weeks and told him that "Individualism" was bunk and that it actually made more folks similar by limiting the methods (dress/hair/tattoos/piercings, etc.) by taking God out of the equation. I told him that real individualism meant just being you and not trying to be an individual because God made all of us different than the others in some wonderful ways.

He didn't like it much, but his father was a good friend so i still got the grade I deserved.

127 posted on 12/09/2012 3:41:02 AM PST by trebb (Allies no longer trust us. Enemies no longer fear us.)
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To: Tax-chick; Mrs. Don-o; trisham; Albion Wilde; NYer
There are some interesting points in the Atlantic article on which Msgr. Pope is commenting. The author writes about the fall and rise of "Emma": Emma was at number three when the SSA records begin, in 1880. She fell almost down to #500 by the 1970s. But after a decade of uncertainty she began a fantastic run, finally reaching number one in 2008.

Then he asks why "Emma" has this pattern, but not other once popular names such as "Mildred" and "Bertha." I suspect this reflects the changing ethnic composition of the United States. Mildred and Bertha are distinctively Germanic names, and German-Americans, having often been in the U.S. for five generations or more, give their children standard names rather than ethnic ones. Then there's simply the ease and simplicity of "Emma," compared to other names that were once popular.

I think another reason many parents today want "uncommon" names for their children is that, like me, they were one of seven girls with "Common Name of 1966" in their elementary school grade, and one of nine women with "Common Name of Late 1960s" in a department at work. In my department at That Insurance Company, there were so many employees with my name that our boss called us "Mrs. Jones," "Mrs. Collins," "Mrs. Garcia." (Very dignified, actually - I kind of liked it!)

My sons have names that often make the top-10 lists - William, Thomas, Patrick, James, Daniel, Francis - but the only one who regularly finds himself in a class with duplicates is Daniel. It seems every family has a Daniel! The girls are "uncommons" - Josephine, Eleanor, Sabina, and Kathleen - because I was traumatized by Common Name 1966 ;-).

128 posted on 12/09/2012 4:06:53 AM PST by Tax-chick (More than you ever wanted to know, right?)
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To: EDINVA
No one is disputing that Madison is a last name. The subject here is popular first names. Madison as a first name is claimed to have entered American culture on the heels of a movie (about 1980 where the slutty character adopted the name off a street sign). Do you have evidence of it as a given name before that? If this family has a record of it before that then I'm wrong.
129 posted on 12/09/2012 4:49:44 AM PST by Varda
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To: Varda

Sometimes the weirdest names are older than we think. I had a boy in Cub Scouts a couple of years ago whose name was “Jett.” Dreadful, I thought, how could they ... but when I was doing a cemetery tour this fall, I saw a stone for a man whose first name was Jett, and he’d lived in the 19th century.


130 posted on 12/09/2012 5:32:59 AM PST by Tax-chick (More than you ever wanted to know, right?)
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To: Varda

The same cemetery had a woman named “Adder Belle.” We looked for her sister, “Viper Sue,” but she wasn’t there ;-).


131 posted on 12/09/2012 5:34:09 AM PST by Tax-chick (More than you ever wanted to know, right?)
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To: Chickensoup

“Kristin Lavransdatter” has stuck in my mind for a long time. I find myself lying in bed thinking about her choices: “But should she have...?” “Why did her father Lavrans...?” “Why did they decide to ..?” “Could it have turned out differently if she had...?”


132 posted on 12/09/2012 5:48:46 AM PST by Mrs. Don-o (asdfg)
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To: Tax-chick
My mother, born 1913:

Winifrieda Katharina Emma Yochim.

Went by "Wynne" (pronounced "Winnie.")

133 posted on 12/09/2012 5:57:58 AM PST by Mrs. Don-o (asdfg)
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To: Mrs. Don-o

We had a lady called Winnie in our church. She was very old, died a few years ago. I figured her real name was some variant of Winifreda, since she was from Belgium.

We get some interesting names in the Spanish congregation, because they’re often named for the feast day on which they’re born. One of my best friends is Asuncion, “Assumption,” and the father of one of my Cub Scouts is Dolores, for Our Lady of Sorrows; his wife is Maria Amparo, “Mary, Help of Christians.” Both men and women are commonly named Guadalupe, which sometimes confuses the record-keeping for Sunday School: my list is off on the boy/girl count, because whoever entered them thought both Guadalupe and Genesis were boys, but they’re girls!


134 posted on 12/09/2012 6:18:27 AM PST by Tax-chick (More than you ever wanted to know, right?)
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To: Salvation
Saints — got it?

That's fine - but that's not the same as saying those names are in the BIBLE.

Nevertheless, Remigius is a fine name to give to a child. Patrick Remigius O'Baniondoodaley.

135 posted on 12/09/2012 6:18:45 AM PST by Yashcheritsiy (It's time to Repeal and Replace the Republican Party)
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To: Yashcheritsiy; Salvation
I like it. Pretty soon every Tim, Dick and Harry will be named Remigius!

I'm partial to Turibius, myself. Turibius of Mongrovejo (Link): my fave lawyer of the Inquisition.

136 posted on 12/09/2012 6:28:56 AM PST by Mrs. Don-o (asdfg)
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To: Mrs. Don-o

I wanted to name a daughter Mechtildis, but the suggestion was received negatively.


137 posted on 12/09/2012 6:38:26 AM PST by Tax-chick (More than you ever wanted to know, right?)
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To: garandgal

I dropped the middle o so that it would be more fluid with her middle name Dorthea Rose rolls off my tongue better than Dorothea Rose.

It is also a paternal great aunt’s name and strangely they have similar stubborn and bold personalities. This gives my father-in-law a big kick, that she is so much like his big sister “Dodie”.

My adorably clueless husband had no idea his Aunt Dodie’s given name was Dorothy until she called squealing with joy that we had named a child after her.


138 posted on 12/09/2012 9:22:54 AM PST by Valpal1
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To: the OlLine Rebel

..and a daughter named Isolde.


139 posted on 12/09/2012 9:28:45 AM PST by Erasmus (Zwischen des Teufels und des tiefen, blauen Meers)
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To: This I Wonder32460

Was that the name from his Hawaiian birth certificate?


140 posted on 12/09/2012 9:34:26 AM PST by Erasmus (Zwischen des Teufels und des tiefen, blauen Meers)
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To: NYer
My nephew named his recent son Sullivan. His aunt said why would you give a kid a last name for a first name?

As for me, I can't stand the name since the nephew keeps calling him "Sully".......

141 posted on 12/09/2012 9:38:02 AM PST by Hot Tabasco (Jab her with a harpoon.....)
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To: Chickensoup; Salvation

There is a Levi in the Bible and his tribe the Levites.

I think that is the source of all Lewises, Louis-es, Louises, and so forth.


142 posted on 12/09/2012 9:44:52 AM PST by Erasmus (Zwischen des Teufels und des tiefen, blauen Meers)
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To: BwanaNdege

A teacher friend of my wife who taught at an inner-city middle school once had a girl student named “Female” (pronounced “Feh-MOLL-ee”. This teacher asked the girl’s mother how she came up with the name and the mother shrugged, “It wuz awready on the birf certificate.”


143 posted on 12/09/2012 9:48:31 AM PST by Lancey Howard
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To: Tax-chick

You learn something every day.

I didn’t know that the common name of 1966 was “Tax!”


144 posted on 12/09/2012 9:53:03 AM PST by Erasmus (Zwischen des Teufels und des tiefen, blauen Meers)
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To: Erasmus

Lewis is sourced in Germanic and Old French, unrelated to the Biblical name Levi, though Jews have used it to Anglicize ‘Levi’. It is closely related to ‘Ludwig’.


145 posted on 12/09/2012 9:55:51 AM PST by jjotto ("Ya could look it up!")
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To: Mrs. Don-o

Mom’s original given name was reputed to be “Goldie.” As an adult, she went by another first name, but used the middle initial of “G” (only).


146 posted on 12/09/2012 9:56:38 AM PST by Erasmus (Zwischen des Teufels und des tiefen, blauen Meers)
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To: EDINVA; Varda
No one is disputing that Madison is a last name. The subject here is popular first names. Madison as a first name is claimed to have entered American culture on the heels of a movie (about 1980 where the slutty character adopted the name off a street sign). Do you have evidence of it as a given name before that? If this family has a record of it before that then I'm wrong.

According to this,

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Madison_(name)

Madison as a given name has never been all that popular but was used as a given name for boys well before the 1984 movie Splash. Some examples are:

Madison Smartt Bell (1957/), novelist
Madison Cawein (1865/1914), poet
Madison Cooper (1894/1956), American businessman
Madison Jones (1925/), author
Madison S. Perry (1814/1865), fourth governor of Florida

And it was also used as a middle name, most often paired with James.

James Madison Carpenter (1888/1983), Methodist minister, scholar
James Madison DeWolf (1843/1876), surgeon
James Madison Wells (1808/1899), governor of Louisiana
Clarence Madison Dally (1865/1904), American glassblower
George Madison Adams (1837/1920), U.S. representative from Kentucky

As far as Madison as a girl’s name, yes that didn’t seem to become a popular name for girls until the 1984 movie “Splash” which was a modern retelling of the Hans Christian Andersen fairytale “The Little Mermaid”. I haven’t seen that movie for years but I don’t recall the character Madison as being particularly “slutty”. OK, she did come out of the ocean and walk around naked but that’s because she was a mermaid and rather innocent and naïve and evidently living under the sea as a mermaid, clothing was optional. Then there is the Disney movie version of The Little Mermaid” but unlike “Madison”, Ariel isn’t naked but wears strategically placed sea shells. :) ,

147 posted on 12/09/2012 11:32:48 AM PST by MD Expat in PA
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To: Tax-chick

I thought Jett was an old English name.


148 posted on 12/09/2012 12:17:21 PM PST by Varda
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To: Varda

It probably is, but I’d never run into it until I had the boy in Scouts.


149 posted on 12/09/2012 12:22:05 PM PST by Tax-chick (More than you ever wanted to know, right?)
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To: Tax-chick

LOL, exactly. One local bank had a magazine with the bios of some bank officers. It was the Stump family with first names of Forest and Oak. I was thinking were the rest of the family named Maple and Willow?

Maybe Adder is an old name but suppose they did just use the name because they liked the word? How is that different than the ghetto names the OP thinks are so bad?


150 posted on 12/09/2012 12:29:30 PM PST by Varda
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