Skip to comments.On Strange Names and the Curse of Individualism
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.” Maryboth a traditional American name and a symbol religious Christianityembodies 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.
I had an uncommon and androgynous name. Although I have followed suit here on FR due to my perception that some men tend to dismiss women’s serious comments, in practice it was a very inconvenient and sometimes downright unpleasant experience. Not so much the uncommon part, but rather the androgynous part.
As an adult, I found that it helped me get in the door in business, but then I was sometimes treated to extra helpings of discrimination because men felt tricked because they thought they would be interviewing a man. But that was decades ago.
Now, in the recent two decades, my once-rare name that was usually given to males has become more popular and is usually given to females, although not always. I don’t have to pronounce it or spell it for other people multiple times any more. I still don’t like it; but it is what it is.
The sluttyness has nothing to do with nudity. The character in the movie meets the guy for a few seconds and then follows him for sex at his apartment.
The Little Mermaid cartoon character doesn’t behave anything like this.
Interesting point. Maybe "Adder" was the last name of someone in the family tree, or a mispronunciation of "Addie" or "Adair" that got passed down.
Whatever the source, at least it's easy to spell and pronounce.
How unfeminine of you to point that out! Don't you know being treated like a dithering fluffy bunny, irrespective of the logic of your statements, is a compliment? (/s)
I dont have to pronounce it or spell it for other people multiple times any more.
I have to spell our German last name all the time, and very few people (including my own mother-in-law!) pronounce it correctly without multiple reminders. It makes one wish to be "Jane Smith" sometimes.
...an awful lot of African American folks hate the practice too.And an awful lot more continue the practice.
As I said, its been a long time since Ive seen that movie and I believe you, but honestly I dont remember the sex scenes, probably because it was PG or PG-13 sex. And I guess I think of sluttyness more as a gal having sex with lots of guys but YMMV.
And honesty when I hear of a girl named Madison, I tend to think of the 4th POTUS and not the slutty mermaid just as when I hear of a girl named Reagan, I think of the 40th POTUS and not the possessed girl from the Exorcist.
With that being said, parents should give more thought to what they name their kids. I knew a gal named Tulsa, her parents being originally from Oklahoma. They didnt consider how cruel kids could be, especially those that figured out what Tulsa spelled backwards spells.
And yet they are still Democrats.
For the most part in Maryland, they are in the orbit of Washington D.C. Many of them are government employees or tied to government money, so it is for the most part a lost cause to have them come over to limited government. But in terms of how they live their lives, they are as close to conservatives as anything in the democrat party.
I had a tough time figuring which of SIX Captain Samuel Robinsons I descended from in VT and MA.
They were all cousins, alive at the same time.
The problem is these days, it's almost impossible to figure out who the fathers are.
You NEVER really know for sure, even in the old days, but at least there was a better chance before society fell apart.
I was at a McDonalds in Baltimore many years ago, and the girl behind the counter had a name tag that read,
I suspect she still works there. Unless she went to court - and obtained a real name - she’ll be forever stuck at minimum wage jobs because her parents were stupid.
My husband used to worked with a man named Void
Guess his wife is named Null?
Annnndddd.... they both FReep here
While I can’t prove it, I’m certain “Plaxico” as in Plaxico Burress the NFL star player, was named after a medical product that his parents saw in the hospital.
Wiki, says he was named after his “uncle”.
and I wonder why white Catholics name their kids: Madison, tyler, parker, blake, dillon, dallas, amber, brittany,
“id just as when I hear of a girl named Reagan, I think of the 40th POTUS and not the possessed girl from the Exorcist.
Why? The girl in the exorcist was Regan,as was King Lear’s daughter.
Regan is an old name.
One of the latest I have heard is La-a(pronounced Ladasha). I wish I was making this up.
The most popular baby names now are pretty traditional: Sophia, Emma, Isabella, Olivia, and Ava for girls; Jacob, Mason, Ethan, Noah, and William for boys.
Yes ... thank you ... it is indeed fascinating. I taught computers in a catholic elementary school for a short while. My 7th grade class was composed of: Christines, Christinas, Kristines and Christophers. I still recall the age of the “Jennifer’s and Lisa’s” and now, my neighbor’s 1st grader is named “Ava”. Somewhere in between, though, I recall a spate of odd names - there was a girl named ‘Stardust’ in one shop and I know several African Americans who caved to the notion of giving their children “unique” identities with unpronounceable names. I guess it is all part of the circle of contemporary life. One disadvantage, though, is the impact on ancestral research. In trying to locate family records, the process was facilitated by the fact that during the 19th century, the common practice was to name children for their grandparents. That proved most beneficial in sifting through hundreds of records, trying to pinpoint which one might be a relative.
How bout Placenta.
I believe you. A few years ago, a woman gave birth to her first child and named her hash-tag. Try going through life with that name ... better yet, don't.
One of the latest I have heard is La-a(pronounced Ladasha). I wish I was making this up. >>
you’re not, I’ve heard it too.