Names and advice columns!
Since I was quite young, I’ve loved names. What do they mean? Why do we choose them? How close did I come to being “someone else?” And, as Regan, Rachel, or Gretchen (all candidates put forth by my parents), would I really have been someone else?
When I was in elementary school, I’d buy baby name books from the drugstore and painstakingly go through them, using an elaborate ranking system to identify my favorites (the more possible variants and nicknames, the better). While my dolls all had permanent names (don’t even get me started on the pre-ordained names of Cabbage Patch kids. Mine was Quincy Marcella. Shudder. Makes me think of quince, which is some kind of obscure fruit, right?), my Barbies were blank slates. (I mean, who really persists in using Barbie, Skipper, and Midge? Especially when you have four of each?) Each new storyline meant an opportunity to re-christen each of them. Naming was most of the fun. And usually what I spent the most time on.
Part of it is tied to my interest in etymology–this explains why I love sites like Behind the Name, which gives the history, meaning, and connections with other names of pretty much any name I’ve ever been able to come up with. My other favorite is the NameVoyager, a simple (but elegant!) (and powerful!) graph charting the popularity of names in the United States, over the last 100 years or so. There was a time in college when I kept such a close eye on this kind of thing that you could give me a name (Lydia, Frank, Todd) and I’d be able to accurately report the decade in which its popularity peaked. (My only party trick, besides rolling a napkin into a chicken.)
I confess that I am an unfairly harsh critic of the names other people choose for their offspring. Not that this surprises you.
So imagine my delight when today, passing by the name voyager, I saw a link to Ask the Name Lady, an advice column for those choosing names for their babies! I mean, besides the dismay I felt that this should have been my job…..the Name Lady got there first, and I respect her for that. And look forward to many hours of entertaining reading!
For a sample, here’s today’s column:
Every day I receive naming questions of all kinds, and I can only answer a small fraction in print. Believe me though, it’s “all kinds.” Here’s an inside peek at some of the more unusual questions and comments from the Name Lady’s Inbox.
“My daughter named her son Emmet. I told her I liked Jake and she had a fit when I sent him a birthday card with a check addressed to Jake….What do you think?”
“Do you think to name your child Rada is weird especially if there is a show called Chowder which features a character named Rada that only ever says rada rada rada rada?
“I named my baby girl Teuslauna (tyoos lawna). I made it up when we couldn’t decide a name. A week later someone asked about the name, and my wife goes ‘What was it again?’ I said ‘What?’ She said, ‘the one you made up?’ Took me a week to remember it exactly how it was.”
“Would it be odd if all of my kids had the same name like Taylor but just change the middle name?”
“We’re having a boy and we have a first and middle name chosen, but my husband is now suggesting we add a second middle name — Eponymous. Any advice? Is Eponymous a crazy name?”
“My mother named me Mark. I am a girl. What’s with that?”
“I chose my daughter’s name when I saw it graffitied on a truck when I was pregnant with her so I don’t know it’s history. What can you share about this name?”
“What would you say to a name that is only rolling your tongue?”
Oy…..entertaining reading indeed.