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 remember being waited on by a waitress named Glee. I always thought that was an odd name.
I’m simultaneously amused and irritated by dippy parents who really think by giving their child a weird name, they will make the kid a unique individual.
The black kids mostly have fairly common names.
Blacks in Maryland, and many other places around the east coast, has some distinct subcultures. Maryland blacks who are middle class and suburban, of whom there are many, have a distinct culture different from inner city blacks, and basically want nothing to do with inner city culture, at least in mixed company. When they go to work, they dress in suits and ties. They speak with no ebonics, and they are very, very serious about education. Many of them will have master's degrees or higher. They would probably have nothing to do with these names.
Don’t forget the Jaydens, Haydens, Kaydens, Baylees, Haylees, and all the girls given last names for first names.
My husband used to worked with a man named Void.
Thank you sir. Me too.
Centuries back and even now, the mother’s maiden surname was used as a child’s first name. Though sometimes they used a grandmother or great grandmother’s surname if it had special meaning or was well know. That’s how there came to be several generations of men named Dummer Sewall. Yes, Dummer, I think it was a maternal great great grandmother’s maiden name, if I remember correctly.
My husband used to worked with a man named Void
= = = = == = = = = = =
Guess his wife is named Null?
Madison is the made up name of a slutty character from a movie. The made up black names have more dignity.
Trayler as in Trayler Howard, the name of the actress who played Mr. Monk’s assistant. The mother of the character, Julie. What was the character’s name? Oh yeah, yeah his 2nd assistant was Natalie. Love that show.
Maybe they do...but as a group they vote for nobama and other LIB losers.
Possibly. Though Possiblee could have been their daughter.
Oh, you rascal. You made me laugh three times!
I know a
Holly Holly and Jody Jupiter
Google found it for me from “Kristin Nobel Prize”. Another forgotten Nobel Prize author.
Oh, well. We named our only daughter Mary. She’s been extremely successful and never had to justify her name.
There was a time, as I recall, that you could not baptize a child in the Catholic Church unless s/he had a saint’s name. It could have been a middle name, but somewhere in there s/he had to have a saint’s name.
Like Msgr. Pope, over the years and decades I’ve worked extensively with DC’s African American community. One older (60ish) black woman was horrified by her grand-children’s names. Only one had a ‘normal’ (and, to her, acceptable) name.
There are some well-known cases of first names that started as surnames: Jefferson Davis, Franklin Pierce, Franklin D. Roosevelt.
On FNC this morning one of the programs had a Tobin Smith (a regular on that show). I wonder if Tobin is a family name. If your last name is Smith there may be an incentive to find an uncommon first name for your kid.
“Madison is the made up name of a slutty character from a movie.”
Perhaps in most cases that is true, but the only Madison I know personally is the daughter/granddaughter of very active DARs who have a familial connection with the Madison family of VA.
“I suppose this is one freedom you would all like to see go away? Quite frankly for a bunch of freedom lovers some of you dont seem to embrace it like you claim.”
I am all for you having the freedom to name your kid anything you wish. You can name your kid “Qwerty-uiop” for all I care.
I also support having the freedom to make fun of you for it.