Wednesday, August 21, 2013

On North West

So the business of naming babies can be tough for a lot of people, especially couples. Naming your offspring in a couple should go by the 2 yeses, 1 no rule...meaning both have to agree, if one person doesn't it's scrapped. Luckily, my significant other and I were headed in the same direction as far as naming and once we agreed we were set. But even before you get to the point of agreeing, you have to have options. This is tricky for most "regular" people. By regular, I mean the type of people who wouldn't name their child North West.

Celebrities have taken naming children to a whole 'nother level so to speak. They have broken all common knowledge rules in the naming department. I assume because (I don't mean to be harsh) but their children are part of the business. Pregnant celebrities have been able to actually increase their popularity and revenue while pregnant much more than years ago when in order to not lose job(s) you had to hide your pregnancy. Media pays out big money to be the first to break to story, or have birth photos, or name info. Sooo why not name your child Moxie Crimefighter? It makes money! The other reason I would assume they do this is because by most people's measure of success, their children already are. Most of us attempt to name our children something that won't hinder them in becoming successful, we think about things like Dr. So-n-so or So-n-so, CEO. Celebrity children are already rich so middle finger to your success haha.

For the vast majority of us, we should not go by celebrity standards. Little North West will not be hindered by her name, doors will open for her regardless...your kid on the other hand may not be so lucky if you decide to name him or her Pilot Inspektor.

I've recently taken a glimpse into the world of "name nerds". This is sort of an underground world full of people that know too much etymology and word roots for their own good and have very strong opinions. I've been blown away by this discovery of "name nerds" and fascinated all the same. They consider any name that doesn't follow these "rules" to be setting your child up for teasing and unemployment. I wanted to share with you all what I've learned or heard about naming little ones and some of the things I considered when naming my daughter, Parker.

  1. Spelling, spelling, SPELLING! I cannot stress this enough. This is one I feel strongly about and I'm not a name nerd. Spell them chil'ren names correctly...please people. It is not "yooneek" to spell little Elizabeth's name Alyzzabef, it's stupid. You get unique names by using legitimate names that aren't common, not by spelling common names incorrectly. On the playground are you going to call her "Elizabeth with the a"? Probably not, so if you like Elizabeth, name her Elizabeth (or the other legit spelling Elisabeth). That also counts for names that defy all the rules of phonics. CONSONANTS AREN'T SILENT. At least not in the English language so no little Marztin isn't 'Mar-ten with a silent z', he's "Marz-ten" which is just...dumb.
  2. Etymology. Name nerds go crazy on etymology, which is the history of words. Most people think of names as something different than words thus we feel justified in changing the spelling of word or place names because "it's a name, not a place" (i.e. Dallas spelled Dallys). Name nerds, however, will tell you that's not correct. Names are derived from words which have meanings and etymologies. For example: Alice, is from the Aalis which is short for a Germanic name Adalheidis and became popular in the 12th century. If you continue to follow the history the Germanic name basically means "noble kind". This is where I slightly disagree with name nerds...I mean I understand the annoyance of "made up" names but to me a long history doesn't mean it has meaning. Alice really doesn't have a meaning, which is fine btw. I feel like as long as the name doesn't mean anything bad it doesn't have to be a meaning that's close to the parent's. Parker's name fits into the "occupation name" category meaning park keeper. It doesn't hold a special meaning to her father or myself but it's not a bad meaning and we liked the name so we kept it. Which leads me to the next point..
  3. "Boy names" on girls. Name nerds HATE this trend. This is my biggest gripe with them. So they hate Mc/Mac names on girls and names that end in -son. These names with that prefix (Mackenzie) or suffix (Madison) literally mean "son of___". For example: Emerson, literally means "son of Emery". It does seem kinda weird to name your daughter "son of" anything, I agree there. That opened my eyes to that and I will know for my future child to steer clear of those types of names even though I have a soft spot for Mackenzie on a girl. [Al(l)ison is different in this respect, it's a diminutive of Alice so it doesn't mean "son of".] Where I find issue is names that don't have anything meaning male in it's meaning but is historically used on males. Like Parker, as I stated before it's an occupation...a female can be a parker so why is it considered a boy name? The same with Cooper or Sawyer, etc. Name nerds have some type of way binned traditional surnames into the "boy name" category and I don't think that's right. Lots of surnames have crossed over into first names, first used on males but open to all...Aubrey, Ashley, Courtney, Stacey, etc. Yes, those were first commonly used on males (Drake's mom didn't give him a girl name) but have crossed into female territory, at least in our country. In many places around the world Ashley and Alexis are still very much a male names. One thing a name nerd said to me that I can understand is she hated the trend because parents of boys are terrified for their sons to be in class with a girl of his name so they will go overboard for hyper-masculine names. She believes it will start of trend of little boys named Shark and Dick and other cracked up masculine names. I can understand her sentiment to an extent, at the same time I went to school with male and female Sidneys and Morgans and no one thought twice about it. Hopefully, parents of boys are trending toward not being so sexist and won't mind a female Elliott in their son Elliott's class.
  4. Trends and popularity. Name nerds wait in  joyful anticipation for the annual report of babies named in the the year by the Social Security office. If' you've never seen the list, google it. You can search by state or name and get it's popularity. There is an extended list of the top 1000 names in the country. Seriously, who knew this existed?! Anyway, name nerds loathe naming their children anything in the Top 100, some of them don't even consider names in the Top 500 as they are "too popular". They watch trends and steer clear of names that name been moving upward in recent years...crazy right?! I understand the idea of not wanting your child to be one of 1000 in their school but seriously it won't kill them if there's another kid in the county with their name. I find this most fascinating of the nerds' quirks. 
  5. Flow. Name nerds are the masters of flow. The first and middle and last name must have proper flow which means: no repeating endings and beginnings (for example: Carter Warner or Sophia Maria), it must not be adjective + noun (Blue Ivy, Scarlett Summer), and both names, first and middle, must be of similar styles (Macpaizley Lillian or Arthur Bentley). I agree except I think flow can be sacrificed for family names. I gave my daughter, and will give my future child(ren) family middle names because they hold significance. I would try my best to pick a family name that flowed nicely with the first name I chose but if not...oh well.
  6. "Sibset". I've never even thought of this before...and I find it kinda strange. It's short for "sibling set" as in, the names of all your children together. According to name nerds, all your children's names must sound good together. It's weird to me because kids no matter if they have the same parents doesn't mean they come in a boxed set. They're individuals. This also doesn't leave room for if your "naming style" changes over the years. I like unisex names, obviously but I named my daughter at 22...if I have another daughter at 32 and like traditional names then that won't do. I can't have a female Parker and an "can't" mix unisex and traditional because they'll say Parker sounds like Elizabeth's brother. Having taken a peek into their world, I must say as ridiculous as I find this notion some names do fit together better than others haha. I wouldn't consider naming future children based on my other kids, it doesn't seem fair to me.
So I'll continue viewing this whole world of name nerdy as an outsider lol. It has caused me to look at names differently but really I just think some people are utterly ridiculous. Although Rosemary has a long history, good meaning, and hasn't been in the top 500 in the last 25 years doesn't mean she won't get teased (because kids can be cruel) or that it's attractive to the majority. There's a reason Sophia is the most popular name in this country...most people find it attractive.

I hope you enjoyed this glimpse and think once, twice and three times before naming your future children. Just because you love Fifi doesn't mean your child should have to carry that for the rest of her life. Choose wisely...and most importantly spell it correctly.


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