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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: Calvin Locke; manic4organic
“Q’J’Q’Sha” will have a few job options:

Relative of "Mama'shay'mama'shay Ma'ma'moo'sha?"

41 posted on 12/08/2012 2:45:02 PM PST by Albion Wilde (Government can’t redistribute talent, willpower, or intelligence, except through dictatorship.)
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To: pennyfarmer
I think France had a law that names had to be either Biblical or classical--but I don't know if that is still the case.

Hercule Poirot, of course, was Belgian, not French.

In colonial times and in the 19th century names from the Old Testament were very common. Isaac, Abraham, Ezekiel, Reuben, Hannah, Tamar, Rebecca, and many others. Around 1900 or earlier they went out of fashion. Supposedly the term "rube" comes from the idea of "Reuben" being a typical name a farmer might have.

I had a distant cousin in the 19th century who was called Parshandatha--it's a name from the book of Esther. In the Bible it's a man's name but it was bestowed on a girl. I figure they just opened the Bible at random and took the first name they saw, without reading the context to see that it was a male name.

42 posted on 12/08/2012 2:45:32 PM PST by Verginius Rufus
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To: NYer
he number of girls given the name Mary at birth has fallen 94 percent since 1961

(Not a papist, but) our youngest, born 1990, is a Mary.

We gave all our kids pretty ordinary names, of biblical origin. We didn't try to be trendy (but it turned out there was a spate of Hannahs born in the early 80s).

And I got pointed to this a couple weeks ago:


43 posted on 12/08/2012 2:46:05 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: NYer
And, of course, there Little Bobby Tables:


44 posted on 12/08/2012 2:48:30 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: Joe 6-pack
I would be surprised if they wasn't a Vagina and a Clamadia out there some place.
45 posted on 12/08/2012 2:51:34 PM PST by Ditter
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To: Zeneta

Actually we have a younger friend named BG, for Baby Girl—the youngest of a family with five sisters, now married with two children. It’s not her real name, but she’s been called that ever since she was a toddler, and it stuck. I don’t actually know what her real name is.

Having used it for years, it now sounds natural to me.


46 posted on 12/08/2012 2:53:06 PM PST by Cicero (Marcus Tullius)
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To: Ditter

typo (again) they=there.


47 posted on 12/08/2012 2:54:07 PM PST by Ditter
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To: NYer

My children all have a biblical name in their names:
Anne
Marie
Louise
John David
Patrick


48 posted on 12/08/2012 2:54:23 PM PST by Salvation ("With God all things are possible." Matthew 19:26)
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To: NYer

Once several years ago, a talk show host used a map of Wisconsin and pointed out some names that would appeal to certain people, like Kenosha and
Waukeshaw. Nice names, don’t you think?


49 posted on 12/08/2012 2:59:04 PM PST by MondoQueen
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To: NYer

At least some black comics are getting mileage from the naming thing.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Dd7FixvoKBw

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


50 posted on 12/08/2012 3:02:03 PM PST by Disambiguator (America chose...poorly.)
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To: Noumenon

Gee, I miss my old dominatrix, Urethra Monsoon.


51 posted on 12/08/2012 3:02:53 PM PST by Erasmus (Zwischen des Teufels und des tiefen, blauen Meers)
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To: NYer

The ‘Curse of Individualism.’ Only from the HRC!


52 posted on 12/08/2012 3:03:19 PM PST by Misterioso ( "Those who grant sympathy to guilt, grant none to innocence." - Ayn Rand)
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To: Zeneta; pennyfarmer; trisham
I was at a McDonalds in Baltimore many years ago, and the girl behind the counter had a name tag that read, “Baby Girl”

What a moniker to carry through life, especially in the senior years!

For many catholics, names were chosen from the list of saints. By choosing a saint’s name you acknowledge this fact and ask a particular saint to assist you in bringing up the child; the saint becomes the child’s patron and a role model for the child.

Dear pennyfarmer, I copied you to this response to demonstrate the absurdity and selfishness in naming children according to whim. There is nothing wrong with having a unique name but, at least, make is something meaningful! How meaningful is it for a boy to grow into adulthood with the name ESPN ... especially, if he doesn't like sports! And what about newborn girl named "Hashtag"! What is the meaning of that name? I have even heard of children named "artichoke" and "cappuccino".

Compare these to names like: John - God is gracious, or Daniel - God is my judge. There are thousands of such names that carry strong significance. Why inflict such arbitrary names, based on elements or nothing, on a newborn child. Who are their role models? Parental selfishness ... is the only explanation.

53 posted on 12/08/2012 3:05:44 PM PST by NYer ("Before I formed you in the womb I knew you." --Jeremiah 1:5)
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To: sean327

There was also a minor movie actress by that name, who was the wife of a Mesa, Arizona car dealer.


54 posted on 12/08/2012 3:10:01 PM PST by Erasmus (Zwischen des Teufels und des tiefen, blauen Meers)
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To: Joe 6-pack; Noumenon

And Chlamydia, and the lovely and popular Candida Albicans.


55 posted on 12/08/2012 3:12:15 PM PST by Erasmus (Zwischen des Teufels und des tiefen, blauen Meers)
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To: MondoQueen

Well, I can see the name “Madison.”

And for some, I suppose a fitting name would be “Devil’s Lake.”


56 posted on 12/08/2012 3:20:47 PM PST by Erasmus (Zwischen des Teufels und des tiefen, blauen Meers)
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To: Lee N. Field

My co-workers’ baby names this year seem to be unisex: Briley, Brailey, Layton, Braylon. All the moms are in their 20s.


57 posted on 12/08/2012 3:21:39 PM PST by NewCenturions
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To: Noumenon

You left out the infamous “G.G.” of Unintended Consequences.


58 posted on 12/08/2012 3:22:54 PM PST by DuncanWaring (The Lord uses the good ones; the bad ones use the Lord.)
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To: Albion Wilde
Funny, when you go to the article at the link, the first name on the right-hand column of other writers is “TA-NEHISI COATES.” It’s a male. Or, someone who looks masculine. You never can tell these days.

Isn't that the truth! Imagine the problem it poses for school teachers trying to figure out, not only how to pronounce the name, but be 'sensitive' to the child's gender for fear of being denounced by an offended parent. Ooops ... does that still apply in our unisex world?

God help this society that has run, full speed, into secularism and individualism.

59 posted on 12/08/2012 3:26:39 PM PST by NYer ("Before I formed you in the womb I knew you." --Jeremiah 1:5)
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To: Lee N. Field
Congratulations on giving your daughter a beautiful and saintly name. Who better to be her guide through life than the Mother of God!

You'll know we've met up with Europe when the most popular boy's name becomes Mohammed (or any of its variant spellings).

60 posted on 12/08/2012 3:30:41 PM PST by NYer ("Before I formed you in the womb I knew you." --Jeremiah 1:5)
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