No, I’m not listing random things. These are names you may have heard in the media, or at least in any list of ridiculous names given to children.
Baby names are often talk of the town in the media. I wish I could say it’s because people are interested in the latest child of David and Victoria Beckham, Tom Cruise and whoever he’s married to now, Kim Kardashian and Kanye West or any number of celebrity couples. But mostly it’s because they’re waiting to hear which ridiculous name has been given to another child.
What is a name?
It’s a strange concept, really, to have a name. It’s helpful in distinguishing between people, or for public records, but how often do you even say someone’s name unless you need to separate them from other people in a room? I don’t say people’s names often. I tend to avoid it, especially with people I barely know in case I have their name wrong. I’m more likely to use someone’s name when talking about them to someone else.
The television programme, Prisoner, shows names in a very different light. What if, instead of names, we were referred to as numbers instead?
Hello there, I’m 1465837373. Now that would be rather strange (a little less so if your name is Harper Seven or Seven Sirius Benjamin.). But at least we wouldn’t have a classroom full of multiple James, Ellie or Thomas’s.
But what is the big deal about names, anyway?
We all know that children can be cruel. Any excuse they can find to pick on someone, or even bully them, some children will take it. A child doesn’t need to have a different skin colour, be overweight, or dress in tatty clothes.
What would you think of a child named Tu Morrow? The fact that tomorrow happens after every single day, there are plenty of moments to bring up this child’s unusual name. Then there’s the song Tomorrow, from Annie. How many times must this child hear that song?
My surname is Bond. I STILL get people, adults included, making jokes about James Bond. And no, it’s not funny.
Lyric, Chastity, Kal-El, Audio Science, Pilot Inspektor, Sailor Lee, Peaches, Journey, Bluebell…and the list goes on and on.
The ‘names’ above are just a handful of ‘names’ which could easily be confused with something else entirely. Or at least referred to as something else. How often will poor Chastity have to face the questions about a chastity belt? And poor Kal-El will constantly be asked about his ability to fly, or his strength (and if the child is skinny and small, that’s really going to be one messy childhood).
But are the names we see as traditional, or more acceptable, any better?
April, May, June, August – they’re all months.
Rose, Violet, Daisy, Poppy, Lily – a bunch of flowers, if you ask me.
Paris, India, Texas, Sydney, Adelaide, Chelsea, Florence – is this a travel brochure?
What makes any of the names above any more acceptable than the ones further up the list?
It’s hard to know. But when I saw Florence on a list of names of places used for people, it suddenly occurred to me how acceptable Florence is as a name. It’s one of those ‘traditional’ names that many people wouldn’t even consider to be anything but acceptable. Yet it’s a city in Italy.
Even Chelsea has become relatively accepted within society. As has Rose and Daisy. Despite this, their origins are most definitely from the more unusual side of the name fence.
What makes ‘traditional’ names more significant/acceptable?
Sarah, Elizabeth, Mary, Louise, Kathryn/Katherine/Catherine, Jennifer, Amy, Megan, Jessica, Alice, Victoria.
Henry, Harry, James, Edward, William, Charles, Albert, Aaron, Adam, Frederick, Thomas, Andrew, John, Paul.
Aside from many of these names being used in history, from the Bible to the Royal family and many more besides, these names have something about them that feels solid and acceptable. They are names which are renowned; they hold a place in society and have gone on to inspire names of streets and cities alike.
According to Wikipedia:
Victoria is the latin for victor/conqueror
Paul comes from an old Roman name Paulus/Paullus
Every name comes from somewhere and though it may be very easy to judge names like Brooklyn or Peaches, there are many names out there which may have started out with as much ridicule as we give to them.
Blake is a name that has come to be accepted by society, but it has always been there as a surname or nickname and means black or pale/white. Yet its popularity as a first name has increased over time. Even for girls.
Lewis, Tyler, Ashley, Bailey and Percy are also names that were once surnames, but have become accepted as something more.
Scarlett is a name that when you think past its ability to be a girl’s name, is actually a colour. It’s a shade of red. (So why do we turn our nose up at Blue?) Its popularity as a name has increased and just this year it was number nine on a list of popular girls’ names.
You will find Amber, Violet, Ebony, Goldie, Hazel, Jade and Olive as some of the many names that were once colours but have now been accepted as a name for a child.
So perhaps Pilot Inspektor is a little strange as a name and North West will probably get bullied for the rest of her life. But that doesn’t mean that taking baby name inspiration from unusual places is wrong. If anything, it’s been happening for centuries.
Unfortunately, that doesn’t make it any easier to stomach the names which feel inherently wrong. I look forward (with fear and dread) to the days when Table, Grass and Book walk this earth.