Friday, November 13, 2009

The Name Game

Remember the old song, The Name Game? (I think that’s what it’s called anyway.) The one where you throw out and name and they sing it back to you in that weird rhyme thing? (“Peter, Peter, bo beter, banana fanna, foe feter, me, mie, moe, meter. Peter.”) Some names were way too tough to use. (Arcata, for example.) And some got your mouth washed out with soap. (like, uh, Chuck.)

It points out how important names can be. Recently The Edge in The Oregonian, listed some, “actual, verified human names, excerpted from the gem of a book "Remarkable Names of Real People," by John Train:”

* Primrose Goo
* Buncha Love
* Sir Basil Smallpiece
* Firmin A. Gryp
* The Rev. Caanan Banana
* Mene Mene Tekel Upharsin Pond
* Suparporn Poopattana
* Strangeways Pigg Strangeways
* Tetley Ironside Tetley Jones (of England's Tetley Tea Co.)
* Carlos Restrepo Restrepo Restrepo de Restrepo
* Melissy Dalciny Caldony Yankee Pankee Devil-Take-The-Irishman Garrison
* Anne Aass
* Virginia May Sweatt Strong
* Supply Clapp Thwing
* Positive Wassermann Johnson
* Unable To Fornicate (Native American tribal chief)
* Appendicitis, Laryngitis, Meningitis, Peritonitis and Tonsillitis Jackson (the other Jackson 5?)
* Larry Derryberry
* Mark Clark Van Ark
* I.P. Frilli
* I.O. Silver
* I.C. Shivers (An iceman. Really.)
* Humperdink Fangboner
* Baroness Gaby von Bagge of Boo
* Charles Adolphe Faux-Pas Bidet

Or, how about these from the Oregon DMV database:

* C. Clinton Biggerstaff
* Jesus A. Colon
* Seema Nema
* Jotta Fern Uren
* Lenola Urie Thweatt
* Leslie Thwingg II

So, for those of you having a baby - congratulations! Having kids is the coolest thing you will ever do! But please, please, please, be extremely careful about what you name your child. Some of the names kids get saddled with are beyond belief! For example . . .

* I knew a kid – all grown up, married and normal now, in spite of the fact her parents named her “Araya.” Nothing wrong with that, really EXCEPT that her middle name is “Sunshine.” Put the two together and you get?

* I knew another kid whose parent’s named him “Daylight.” I was convinced his middle name had to be “Savings.”

* A friend of mine who is a school teacher said she had a girl in her class one year whose names was “Female.” They pronounced it “Fee-Mall-Eh.” Apparently the word “female” had been written on the hospital information for their baby, so they assumed she had already been named and decided to stick with it.

* Back in the day, when I worked at the Center & Lancaster Branch, we used to spend way too much time filing signature cards for new accounts and pulling signature cards on closed accounts. My all time favorite (awful) name came from that experience: “Ursula Lefoifoi.”

My children’s names are “Elizabeth Jayne,” “Jacob Elias” and “Jeremiah Peter.” Before naming our first child Cruella Nancy and I decided on a couple of simple rules. Having these guidelines helped us to have a thread of consistency with their names.

1. Their first names should be classic names. Ones that have stood the test of time. They worked centuries ago and they work today.

2. Their first names should flexible. If they don’t like the full name, they should be able to shorten it or make a nickname out of it.

3. Their middle names are family related. Elizabeth’s middle name comes from my grandmother. Jake’s middle name comes from maternal grandfather. Jeremy’s middle name comes from some guy who was reportedly his father.

I should probably be more open-minded about this but I’ve always thought Congress should adopt a few practical rules that might prevent a lifetime of embarrassment for children. Such as:

1. You cannot name your kid after a country or state: India(.Arie), Chynna (Phillips), Dakota (Fanning), Flo(Rida), and Chad (McDermott) all need to change their names.

2. No nouns for names: Apple, Brick, Lyric, Soap or Lutefisk. (Okay, that last one I threw in just to see if you were paying attention.)

3. No last names for first names: Blake, Lincoln, Tucker, Paxton, Parker, Morgan, Davis, Madison (which means “Son of Maude,” by the way, so it violates rule #5, as well – unless Bea Arthur was the mother)

4. No names you’ve gotten from characters or actors in current movies or TV shows: Raven, Izzie, Serena, Echo, Turtle, Bella (or Twilight, for heaven’s sake) and certainly not Horatio or Homer!

5. Know what your child’s name means: Caleb is a great sounding name but it means “dog” in Hebrew. I love dogs but is that really what you want to name your kid?

6. If you have more than one child, do not have their names all start with the same letter. This is just a practical suggestion. If I had a dollar for every time I called Jake Jeremy OR Jeremy Jake (or just stuttered “J – J – J – J” until I could figure out who I wanted to yell at), I would be a rich man.

So, there you go. Hopefully all of you soon-to-be parents will find this information to be helpful. I would hate to have to put your child’s name up as an example of what NOT to do!
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