Excuse me? What’s your name?


You’ve just laboured for hours and hours (or languished on the C-section table) to bring your precious bundle of joy into the world. You’re convinced you’re going to do everything to make this light of your life happy, keep them safe, and provide them with everything they could possibly need in life to be a content, healthy, well-rounded person of wonder.

So why, then, would you want to afflict your adored child with a name that will make them the victim of playground bullies, or always get them “Sorry, what did you say your name is?”, “Sorry, how do you spell that?”, “Um, what nationality is that,” or, at the worst “Were your parents drunk when they registered you at Home Affairs?” when they’re asked for their name.

Let’s start with ‘unusual’ spellings of conventional names. There’s “Airwrecka”, seen on a US TV channel recently, who has to explain to everyone she meets that she is actually “Erica”. Then there’s Dayvid (northern suburbs twang?), Gorje (which looks like you’ve eaten too much), Naiphtan (a little too close to napalm for my liking), Jesika (taking phonetics to a whole new level), and Alyzzabeth (to make certain that there’s no confusion with QE2). And if you’re going to be cruel enough to name your child Siobhan, at least do it properly (because we all know how to spell it, even if we don’t all know how to pronounce it) and don’t call her Shevaun.

Just consider the impact on these kids’ self esteem when just about everyone they meet asks if they’re really sure that that’s how their name is spelled – their very own name that they’ve had their whole lives and EVERYONE asks if they know how to spell it… or if their parents were just stupid?

When naming your tiny baby, remember that, all things going well, they are going to grow up one day, and will probably want to command some respect from their peers. Honestly, did Paula Yates (MHDSRIP) really think that anyone would take Fifi Trixabelle seriously in a boardroom, without falling back on her parents’ rock and roll credentials? Would you be able take someone called Tallulah seriously, when she sounds more like an exotic dancer than a nuclear physicist or tax attorney?

Similarly, always spend some time thinking if your favoured name has other meanings. For example, Candida is something that makes you itch in moist places, Verruca is a particularly unpleasant type of wart, and Cadence is something to do with cycling – great if you want your daughter to turn her head every time there are cyclists in the room, but not because of their tight buns and hot legs...  

You’ve also got to take your surname into account when naming your child – do you remember the story of Drew, whose surname was Peacock? And much as I respect and admire South African orchestra conductor Richard Cock, I would never have forgiven my parents for opening the door for me to be called Dick Cock, if I was him. If your surname begins with a J, beware of naming your child anything with a B, for fear of him or her being called BJ in the playground forever.  

So, while I get that everyone is different, and we’d all like to stand out from the crowd – let’s make sure our children can do that without having to first clear the messy business of a badly spelled or ill-thought-of name out of the way. Please, don’t be the person that makes this happen to your child.

The author wishes to point out that she is not ranting at the victims of poor naming who clearly are suffering enough already at the hands of their parents. She is castigating those parents who were cruel when they thought they were being kind, quirky, or trend-setting, and who deserve all the punishment they can get…  

Do you think parents should be able to name their kid whatever they want?

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