What “designer-named” babies portend for our society, cont.
The issue of baby names is dear to my heart; I have strong feelings about it indeed. Several years ago I worked for a short period on the pediatric floor of a hospital, and was horrified by the names I encountered. By far the majority were these trendy, non-traditional types, to the point where I remember being practically ecstatic to meet a baby named Andrew.—“Wow, a real name,” I thought!
Steve writes from Palm Beach:
On the subject of baby names, enclosed find a copy of a receipt I received today from my dry cleaner. Note the clerk’s name, Jerkishia. One doesn’t know whether to laugh or cry.
The trouble starts well before adulthood, too. We don’t need to elaborate on how much fun other kids will have with the name, but there is also the trouble teachers and authority figures will have just getting the right spelling. I have friends and family who have chosen these odd names, usually surnames or trendy locations, none of which follow any known tradition or have any phonetic logic. When we were naming our son, there was a British variant spelling my wife proposed, and I asked her, “How much time will we effectively take off his life by forcing him to respell his name over and over and over and over until the day he dies?”Derek C. continues:
Samson’s mention of not seeing many Andrews actually brings up another problem. Here in Houston, we have the opposite problem. We have way too many Andrews. Maybe parents think they are doing their kid a favor by giving him a step up in line alphabetically (Try Aaron next time, guys!). We have so many Andrews in my son’s life, we distinguish them with prefix names: Soccer Andrew, School Andrew, Little Andrew, Cousin Andrew, etc. The same holds for Emma, Jacob, and some other names. Kind of a different direction than your main post, but, please, everyone, try not to use the same name everyone else is using. There are lots of names in the Bible, Homer and Shakespeare to choose from. I’m not saying you have to call your kid Priam, Obadiah, Jehosaphat or even Zerubabel or Agamemnon. How about going with the second called disciple for a change instead constantly calling on poor Andrew? Adam, Peter, Daniel, Elizabeth, Jeremiah, Matthew, Thomas, Mary, Martha, Deborah, Susan, Esther, these are all fine names from which your kid won’t have to hide his head in shame, or—almost as bad—raise his hand with almost half the class when it’s called out.[Deleted Name] writes:
Here’s a fun website that shows the popularity of various names over time. You type in a name a get a graph of its ups and downs over the past century or so.Richard S. writes:
My parents and their peers were first generation Americans. Their parents were Jews who had immigrated to America from Poland and Russia. And yet every one of their first generation American offspring were given mainstream American names, perhaps even consciously Anglo-Saxon names. My father’s name was Chester. My mother’s named was Ann. She had four sisters named Rose, Flora, Sadie and Mary. My uncles were named Carl, Joseph, Philip and George. And that generation named their children Richard, Janet, Arthur, Robert, Laura and Rebecca, to name a few. My point? They understood. At the very least let us not put an impediment in our child’s future path. And for that I am grateful. Profoundly so.LA replies:
On a side point, thank you for using the term “first generation Americans” correctly, which is rare today. “First generation American” means the first generation born here. But today “first generation” is commonly used to denote immigrants, as in the nonsensical expression, “first generation immigrants.”Daniel O. writes:
The article quoted—Have celebrity baby names gone too far?—ends with the following remark by Pamela Satran: “Parents try to superimpose what they want their child to be through the name, [but] your child will be what they [sic] want to be. The focus should be on parenting.” While the article addresses a serious social issue, it ends by giving a liberal non-solution to a liberal problem. It is thus not a real answer to this sociocultural question. The celebrity-stimulated naming crisis is not the ‘superimposition’ of names, but the superimposition of liberal names which are morally void (amoral) or simply perverse (immoral). It is perfectly normal, and even morally right, for parents to guide their children, and to emphasize certain valuable qualities in their children’s names. All traditional and Christian names have meaning—that is the very reason why names are assigned to newborn persons. If you want your son to be strong, then give him a ‘strong’ name as well; if you want your daughter to be intelligent, then also give her an ‘intelligent’ name. It is sad that Pamela Satran, who owns a baby naming website, seems to be ignorant of this obvious fact.LA replies:
I agree with your remarks about Satran’s statement, “Parents try to superimpose what they want their child to be through the name, [but] your child will be what they [sic] want to be. The focus should be on parenting.” Satran is a liberal who thinks that each human being is completely self-made out of his own will and preferences. She is blind to the ways in which parents and society influence the development of a child, including through the name the parents give the child. People who favor designer names MUST believe this. The must believe that it makes no difference what they name their child, because the child’s “true self” (based 100 percent on the child’s own will and preferences) is completely independent of such factors. This leaves the parents free to give the child whatever crazy name they want. They deny all responsibility for the formation of the child, by embracing something called “parenting,” which means, not parenting in any recognizable sense of the word, but facilitating the child in his self-willed creation ex nihilo of himself.Paul K. writes:
The New York Post article on celebrity baby names quoted in the previous entry (“Celebrities consigning their offspring to life-long oddity and probable madness”) says, “That concern inspired Sweden to establish a law that bars parents from giving names that could be detrimental to kids’ welfare.”James H. writes:
I have had it confirmed by a reliable source (a relative is a government official and is socially prominent in suburban Atlanta) that there is a burgeoning trend among professional black women of changing their made up birth names to Anglo-Saxon names. It seems that it is not a good idea to post a resume on Monster.com, etc. with names such as Laqueesha or Shanneeta.A reader writes:
I was curious to try out the website that [deleted name] mentioned for finding the popularity of names through time. Naturally I had to enter my own given name, Dylan, and the results were interesting. The “curve” started in the 1960s, peaked sharply in the 1990s and is now in decline.Kristor writes:
Given my given name, I feel especially qualified to comment in this thread. I have always loved my odd Christian name. But that’s because, while relatively rare in this country outside of Minnesota, it is not uncommon in Sweden, the land of my forebears. It is a traditional, venerable name. And so, although I have had to correct the way people spell it roughly 8 billion times, I don’t mind at all. It helps that almost everyone really likes it. Clerks are always looking at my drivers license and saying, “Wow, that’s a neat name.” “Swedish,” I always say, “very old.” It is important to me that they know it was not just something my folks made up out of thin air.LA to Steve from Palm Beach:
What did Jerkishia look like?Steve replies:
Well, not too much imagination is required as to what she looked like. Around 50 pounds overweight, dark complected (natch!), and tattooed. Speaking of tattoos, when I was growing up in New York in the 1960s the only tattooed women one would see would either be residing at Rockland State Hospital or at the freak show at Coney Island. Just a week ago, I saw a young women with a tattoo of Frankenstein on her left shoulder and of Dracula on her right shoulder. The deterioration of our culture seems to be proceeding at supersonic speed.
Posted by Lawrence Auster at May 10, 2011 03:55 PM | Send