Monday, September 17, 2012

Judgement & Classy Names

I was recently told the name of a new baby in my family's circle, and having seen a lot of names, it didn't really affect me at first, since it wasn't tacky, which is what I'm getting used to. My parents were quite confused by this unusual and trendy name, and upon further thought, I realized I did have an impression - but it wasn't an impression of the child, it was for the parents. Other than being pleasantly surprised by how unusual the name was (and my relatives/friends close enough to call relatives do have amazing taste in names) I recalled the age of the parents and thought, "This seems like they were trying way too hard to be "young and hip." In my line of work I also meet many kids with unusual names and sometimes find it hard not to think something [mostly harsh] of the parents for choosing that name, especially when the name is conventionally said one way, but the child corrects you and gives you a completely out-of-nowhere pronunciation. Spelling is a whole different story, as I see no reason to spell Darien as Daryon, or Katherine as Kathyrine. (To be blunt, shame on you for thinking that spelling is a blessing for your child, and see my previous post.)

Your kid's name really tells the world more about you than your kid. After all, you're the one that picked it - your kid probably would have picked something that told the world more about them.

I love to know other's reactions to names, and find it hard to stay away from the message boards to get opinions and first impressions. I also love commenting on names, and it's hard to be positive when you see a name you dislike. Hopefully by the time I have my own child I can fly past all the creative spellings and trendy names I might regret, I won't get stuck with just the options listed on the top 1000, but I'll know enough to assume a completely, undeniably rare name that is foreign to my society might get a lot of negative reactions. I'll feel confident in choosing a name that my child won't have to share, but also won't have to constantly correct people with it's spelling or pronunciation. It depends on what kind of rare name I pick. I know they might not enjoy something like Fanchette, but they might like something easily understandable like Coral, which is a bit unusual, vintage and not often heard.

All children, at some point, will have judgement passed on their name. But parents will also have judgement passed on them for choosing that name. (Not often enough do we stress the fact that you are choosing a name for a future adult!) Is there any way to avoid negative reactions (even if they're not spoken out loud)? I believe the only way is to find a name with a happy medium of popularity, which for me is not in the top 1000, but sounds familiar or is easy to understand. For others, it is something not in the top 100. A few good examples are Rosalind, Faye, Guinevere and Lavinia. None in the top 1000, but everyone is familiar with them (in a good way - Anakin ranks among them but is not exactly credible). They're classy. And classy names not often heard almost always get pleasant reactions. Lydia, Caroline, Elena, and even more unusual names like Obelia and Sevilla, have a classy feel to them, and you probably don't know more than one or two. In which case, it's really up to the namesake to make the reaction unpleasant. However, names that are so popular that everyone in the country has heard them before, not necessarily in person, go from being classy to trendy.

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