I worked for a non-profit organization for almost eight months. Our purpose was to provide utility assistance to families, and I soon became fascinated with what some people will name their children. The names they pick, or make up, simply scream up from the page with strange and uncomplimentary connotations. In utter horror and amazement, I came up with six simple rules for naming your baby. All the first names I’ve collected here are real, lovingly and painstakingly spelled out on the client applications.
Rule #1 when naming your child: if the name would look unbelievable printed on a master’s degree, do not use it. Who would go to a neurosurgeon named Quay’Shaunee Miller? Only the truly terminal. How about a corporate lawyer named named Quil Jones? Avoid names that include punctuation or brand names. It may sound awfully cute when the child is five, but what about at forty-five? Not so cute now, is it? You have no idea how far your child will go in life. Give him a chance to make the best possible impressions.
Rule #2: spell correctly, or try hard to find a close approximation. For example, Ann and Anne are both acceptable. Spelling it Ahh’yn does not make your child special or original. It makes people question your intelligence. Same with cutting off letters and purposeful misspellings. Nicol is not a name, it’s Nicole. Mishell is spelled Michelle. I cringe every time I see Ty. ‘Ty what?!’, I feel like insisting. Tyler? Tyson? Tyrone? Ty just announces toothless, witless cow-folk. I’ll give you the benefit of the doubt that this is not your intention.
Rule #3: keep it simple. There is no reason to make up some multi-syllabic monstrosity like these gems: Aubriahnaleigh, ShanNayQua’Jill, or D’Ojaniqua. Why not just Aubrey, Jill, or Jan? Now the onus falls on these children to go through life unable to fit their signature onto forms, correcting misspellings, and having their name mispronounced daily.
Rule #4: turn off the tube! I have seen enough children named Elantra, Spectra, and Tundra to last me until Rapture. Here’s a tip- driving to the hospital is a bad time to decide on a name you saw on somebody’s bumper. Also, what of all these people who name their children Chanel (a good perfume, a hideous name), Crystale (expensive liquor featured on rap videos), or, of all things, Tre. As in, “Hi, my name is Tre. It means three in Spanish, and means ‘male prostitute’ in areas of the US.” It’s not a good idea.
Rule #5: forget original spelling and pronunciaton. I’ve only seen this done twice in my life with any success. The first is Maran, a coupling of Marion and Ann that keeps the tired and obvious Maryann at bay. The second is Ashlyn, a combo of Ashley and Lynn that avoids the double-L problem quite nicely. The rest of the ‘original’ names that have recently gained so much popularity are pretty gross.
Kayla, anyone? Kayla is presumably a mixture of Kay and Layla, both beautiful names all on their own. Yuppies name their little live accessories Kayla, why should you? I would have a hard time taking a grown woman with this name seriously, and be aware she will be Kay in professional life at her own insistence.
Also, let me just set a few spellings straight. Linsey is not a name, it’s Lindsay. Shaneen, Shanin, Shannyn and Shaynyn are all wrong, it’s Shannon. Ditto for Chasity, it’s Chastity. Loorah, no. Laura, yes. And Tatijuana is spelled Tatiana. Tatijuana looks like marijuana, be prepared for her to be called Mary Jane. And I may be biased on this one, but Krishteena is an eyesore. It’s Christina.
Finally, rule #6, the most important of all. Do not pick a word at random and give it to your child as their name. Taking a cue from Gwyneth Paltrow, a whole crop of Apples are showing up everywhere. I’ve also seen Cherry and Berry. I’m waiting in horror for Banana, or maybe Kiwi. Food names can have serious consequences if the child ever has a weight issue, and comparing a woman to a delicious fruit carries a lot of sexual undertones as well.
Other forms of ‘random word syndrome’ fall on boys. Who names their son Chance? Chance is a cute name for a border collie, not a boy that will one day be a man. Ditto for Scout, Buck, Champ, Rowdy, and Rocky. I’m sure that will be charming on his business cards as a 45-year-old lawyer.
For your little girl-child, try to avoid loose names. Trixie, Candy, Bubbles, and Randi are all bad choices. Name her Samantha, Jane or Eve, and keep her out of The Champagne Room. What sounds whimsical and cute as a child becomes a horror as an adult. Name her Jezebel, Roxanne, or Lolita at your own risk, and be sure she is raised with unimpeachable moral standards.
In summary, think before naming. What associations does the name have in popular culture, religion, your own personal experience? What would it look like printed on a Master’s degree or in professional life? How would you like it if it was your name?