A Few of My Favorite Things, February Edition

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.


5 responses to “A Few of My Favorite Things, February Edition

  1. I hope “The Name Lady” covers the topic of “Parents who give their children names they hate so much that they proceed to make the entire world call them something else.”

    I’m in full understanding of nicknames, either planned or sporadic, but why would you name your child Joe if the sound of it made the hairs stand up on the back of your neck? Working in a school, my mother came across a good many of these cases, including one where the mother made grand overtures that her son NEVER EVER be called by his given name, but only by his initials. She would made grand overtures to all the office staff about his proper name, but in the heat of a busy office moment, you read whatever the official name is listed on the top of the emergency card. Of course this once happened while the child’s mother was in the office, and she threw an absolute fit, while her son strolled in completely nonplussed.

  2. I don’t doubt it. There were ridiculous questions here–the people looking for baby names are almost as insane, and delusional about their control over the world, as the brides!. This column is going to provide tons of fodder.

    Speaking of insane and delusional, I feel bad for the wife, above, who clearly doesn’t know what eponymous is, and whose husband is clearly toying with her.

  3. Pingback: Crazy is my middle name! « A Little Help, Please?

  4. Pingback: Names, kisses, weddings, oh my! | A Little Help, Please?

  5. An outstanding share! I have just forwarded this onto a coworker who was conducting a little
    homework on this. And he in fact ordered me lunch because I stumbled
    upon it for him… lol. So let me reword this….
    Thank YOU for the meal!! But yeah, thanx for spending the time to discuss this topic here on your
    web page.

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