Tuesday, April 5, 2011

Things I (probably) won't name my hypothetical future child


EDIT: Automatic updating works a heck of a lot better when you remember to put the correct DATE in the scheduled field... just a tip for the wise!

I've been fascinated with names for quite a while. Maybe it's an egotistical thing because I think my name is fairly unique and awesome. I remember asking my mom about how my name was picked when I was quite young and pondering what my life would be different if they'd gone with Dad's first choice (Megan or Jennifer, I think). I like knowing people's middle names and seeing how that changes the sound of their name in my head... which isn't to say that names have some sort of power over us as humans. We can rise above, beyond, beside (and other prepositions) our names, but as we go through life, we develop certain ideas about certain names. "Bob" is different than "Bartholomew" and when you hear those names you picture a type of person. That impression can be broken, but it still exists.

When I worked for a pediatrician's office, I got to see an astonishing number of spellings for common names, as well as a slew of uncommon names. When someone tells me that their baby's name is spelled "the usual way" I always ask for clarification. Ashley, Ashlee, Ashleigh? Candy, Candi, Kandi? Michaela, Michayla, Mikayla? Aaron, Erin? Steven, Stephen? Michelle, Meshell? I'm not even making this stuff up... it all happened!

We had a little boy named Lord as a patient, two boys named God's Power (one of whom had a brother and sister named God's Time and God's Will), and even a baby Linnea (who had blonde hair and blue eyes, like every other Linnea I've ever met in my whole life, which is 4). I know gents named Shannon and Kelly, but at that office I was introduced to girls named Ryan and Hunter, which led to the very awkward but necessary question in the "new patient" line-up: So, baby boy or girl? Oh man, the times I heard their answer followed by a snotty "obviously!" *sigh* fun times...

Still, my favorite baby name by far comes from the lovely Ndinjiakat family. That's pronounced "Ninja-Cat". Yeah, it is. I asked. Wonderful family: very polite when scheduling, always on time to their appointments. I liked them. When I joined the staff, they had a little boy named Samuel with big dark eyes and eyelashes for miles. So, Sam Ndinjiakat. Great name, but one he was born into. Then... then it happened. They had a baby girl, also with dark eyes and eyelashes for miles. And her name? Princess. Oh yeah. Princess Ndinjiakat. PRINCESS NINJA CAT! If she doesn't grow up to be a superhero, I'm gonna be disappointed!

Anyway, all that is the preamble to the fact that I have some thoughts and ideas about baby names.

Though it should go without saying, I'll say it anyway: These are just my opinions, subject to change at a moment's notice without further notice, explanation, justification or rationale. I'm not making allegations, assumptions or ridiculing (most of ) the names listed below, nor any specific persons you may or may not know with those names. If you like them, awesome! If you think they'd make great names for your future kids, hooray! Have at! Besides, don't let me influence your decision, unless you are my husband, in which case, this should totally influence your decisions. But just him. The rest of you can make your own decisions because you are, I think, grown ups*.


  • Places: For the most part, I'd like to avoid naming my hypothetical future child after a place. Not that Georgia and Cheyenne aren't lovely names, as are Austin and Dallas, but well, living in Texas, I'd like to avoid those in particular. It's not because I hate place names in general or specific, it's just not something that I'm drawn towards.
  • Famous People: I know I can't avoid my child having the same name as some future celebrity, and there might be some famous person somewhere out there with the name I like and that won't be a reason not to choose, it, but I'm pretty sure I'm going to avoid naming a girl Angelina, Gwenneth, or Fergie. I won't name my son Bono, or The Edge, and will seriously think twice about Paul and David. I'm also gonna go out on a limb and say that "BonJovi" and "Moby" are right out.

This rule, however, doesn't extend to fictional characters. I don't know why... it just doesn't. There is a short history in my family of naming children after characters from novels... Marion Zimmer Bradley novels, which is mostly irrelevant. So, while I can't really imagine naming a child after Nathan Fillion, "Simon Malcolm" isn't totally off limits, though I don't think I've got enough "exotic & mysterious" genes stored up to spawn a child worthy of "Zoe Inara". Besides, when considering literary names, there's a lot of baggage that can come up if the character is well known or has a certain reputation. Can you imagine me with a little "Hermione"? Ok, I sort of can.

  • Names for ethnicities I obviously don't posses: I think Araceli and Priyanka are beautiful names, but I come from much too pasty a family line to feel comfortable saddling my child with one of those. Which isn't to say that you have to have some tie to the culture to be named from that culture or whatever or that you have to "look like" your name... I'm just saying that there are some extreme examples that I will be avoiding. Like Roberto. I'll stick with Robert if it comes down to it. People sometimes think my name is Hawaiian instead of Swedish, so... you know... there's that.
  • Initials that spell words that I don't like: Ok, so this is less a list of names and more an area of concern. See, once upon a time, I was enamored with the name "Orion Xavier." Yeah, I know. I was, like, 13, so cut me some slack. It was quite some time later that I realized that I'd be saddling my hypothetical future son with not only an incredible mouthful of a name, but also initials that spell "Ox." OX, son of Hippo just wasn't something I was really comfortable creating. So, now I have to take every potential name, boil it down to initials and see if there are any horrors lurking there. I will, however, admit that my husband & I did consider finding a way to have a child with the initials FTW...because we're geeks.
  • And because I've got some sort of strange attachment to the beginning of the alphabet ever since my unfortunate relocation from "B" to "W" I have a side goal of trying to find first names I like that are at least in the first half of the alphabet, though that's less a "rule" and more of a guideline...
  • People I don't like: I think this is pretty much a general rule, and one reason why teachers may have a harder time picking names than others. You don't want to give your child the name of someone you don't like... unless you've always loved the name I guess, and can look past the bad connotations and seriously, aren't you bound to love your child no matter what they're called? But I'm still putting it on the list. I'm not going to name a child after childhood bullies, bad bosses, ex-boyfriends or stuff like that.

There's also a huge grey area when it comes to naming children after relatives. My brother is named for both of our grandfathers, which I think is really neat. I have my mother's middle name. I also have two cousins and a niece with the following names: Alisa, Alyssa and Alysa. (That's A-lisa, A-liss-a, and A-liss-a for those of you keeping track at home.) That's just plain confusing! One sister-in-law has already claimed 12 names for her 6 children, and I don't mind avoiding those. My other sister-in-law and I have already sort of discussed potential names in case of overlap or confusion. It's bad enough that our dogs both have similar names, we'd like to avoid that in children. And since my husband & his siblings all have not only the same initials, but also the same syllables for each of their names (it's true!), I think I'll avoid any more J or J-sounding names if possible.

Certainly seems like a lot of restrictions doesn't it?


I do like a lot of names. Like stone names (Jasper, Ruby, Opal, Jade, Micah, Pearl, Beryl, Amber...) and flower names (Hyacinth, Lavender, Rose, Camellia, Iris, Ivy, Lilly...). I like most Gaelic & Welsh names which will probably fit better on my pasty offspring. I like lyrical names and names that sound like funny characters in Suessian books... and stuff... but the list of names that I like isn't as entertaining as the list of those I'm not really considering. Also, I sort of have a penchant for totally obnoxiously pretentious names (see above: Orion Xavier), so it helps to get some of the more bizarre things out in the open so when it comes time to pick a name and my brain is addled with hormones and insanity, people can reel me back in from the precipice so I don't wind up trying to convince my husband that "Draco Wheaton" is a totally acceptable name.
*I was going to make an exception for my cousin, because he's not a grown up, but then I remembered that he turned 18 when I wasn't looking and is driving and stuff now, so he's... you know, totally a grown up, mostly... except in my head...

7 comments:

Beylit said...

See I have to spend most of my thought in naming of future hypothetical children to not letting Jessie choose. He thinks "Fancy Della-Rae" is an acceptable girls name. Fancy!! What are we breeding future hookers? Is Allen going to make us a little baby stripper pole instead of a rocking animal?

LE Bean said...

@Beylit: I had to be talked out of the name Maeven too. I liked it because it was like Maeve, but not. And a Maven in Yiddish is an expert, but apparently it has some hooker/madam/stripper connotations too that I was unaware of... oops.

JWelch said...

@Beylit: A unicorn with a horn that converts into a pole for baby's first steps (not the walking kind)...

Jojo said...

I briefly went through a period where my future children were to go through life as Phyre and Yce. They were character names that I really liked in a MUD I was playing. Thankfully, I didn't breed at that time in my life.

Also, a unicorn with a stripper pole sounds awesome! Especially for a kid named Fancy Della-Rae.

Anonymous said...

Zoe Inara is a wonderful name two powerful women to have as role models. (Not that a daughter of yours would lack for amazing female role models.)
...but Malcolm Simon? The kid won't know whether to be the rogueish bad boy or the quiet shy cutie.

Niki said...

I think, as long as you won't name your hypothetical daughter "Honabett," you should be fine. I would think that to see her name on her first report card listed as "Welch, Honabett" would be kinda sad...

LE Bean said...

@Niki You've got a point. Plus, telling people we named our child Honabett is just asking for people to point the judgy-mc-judgerson finger at us. I'm pretty sure we'll get enough of that without such a HILARIOUS pun of a name

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