Tuesday, September 16, 2008

Naming Names

I'm beginning to think that we need rules for naming children. First off, you can't use nonsensical noises as names. And don't use a name just because it sounds superficially like it fits in with your ethnicity. You want an African name? Look up some real African names, for crying out loud. Naming your kid with a fancy sounding surname, eg Bristol Palin, doesn't change the fact that you're white trash. If you're going to name a kid with a surname, use one of the hundreds in your own family tree (or tens if you're from Texas) so that it means something. Don't name your kid the most popular name du jour. Do you know how many Madisons of both sexes will be in your kids' class? Naming him Bob will make him more distinctive at this point.

Here's how a lot of American families doled out names back in the day. First son is named after the paternal grandfather; first daughter after the maternal grandmother, usually the name they used with their maiden surname. If my paternal family had followed this I'd be Reuben Lister Warnack, and my sister would be Lottie Bailey Warnack. We'd have been unique. Reuben Lister was my great great great great grandfather, and his memory would live on in my name. I would have referred to myself as Lister and have been made fun of by Red Dwarf fans. Otherwise, I'd have been made fun of as the inept manager of the Partridge Family. Children can be so cruel.

Second son is named after the maternal grandfather with the given name he used followed by his surname. Second daughter is named for the paternal granny. The third of each sex is named after the parent unless that name has already been used. Then you head up the line to great grandparents.

This system affords you the opportunity to use surnames as given names without just making something up because you think it sounds swanky. It also avoids any hurt feelings in families since, you know, rules are rules. Finally, it permits families to maintain their history and tradition. My given names coincidentally match certain distant ancestors, but I know that my parents were unaware of this when I was named. I prefer to think that my names reflect the rich family history on that side.

1 comment:

Mike said...

Individualist hogwash! This is the future we're building here, not some monument to the dusty past! ISO-3166 geocode plus national ID/tax ID for all! They're egalitarian, and unique!

Yours, etc.,
US595125274 (soon to be canceled)