What’s in a name?

Senseless post-afternoon-nap rant up ahead. You don’t need to read this.

(Seriously, you don’t need to read this.)

A couple of weeks ago, the Mainichi Shinbun published a list of the most popular names given to Japanese children born in 2008. Hiroto came in first on the list of boys’ names, followed by Ren and by three variants of the name Yuuto (written using different kanji but with identical readings). For girls, Japanese parents favoured Aoi, Yui, Hina, Rin, and Yua.

I’m not Japanese so I’m in no real position to pass judgement on these monikers, but they all seem like sensible choices to me – the sort of appellations children can proudly grow up with and thank their parents for years from now (instead of the type that gets them beaten up by school bullies, rejected by potential mates, passed over by prospective employers and eaten by diseased leprechauns). The process of conferring a name on a child should never be taken lightly, since the label by which a person will be known for the rest of his life can either be a blessing or a curse depending on what sort of reaction it provokes in other people.

Here, in my corner of the world, giving unusual names to children is something of a national pastime. A correspondent for the BBC once wrote about this modern-day atrocity:

[A] friend told me of a couple who named their five daughters Candy, Caramel, Cookie, Peanut and Popcorn.

Scott Harrison, an American businessman here, says he has heard of a woman who gave birth to twin girls on either side of midnight, naming them Sunday and Monday.

Nothing unusual in that – my daughter’s kindergarten teacher is called Wednesday.

While I recognise that parents currently have the right to name their offspring in any way they please – whether they should have that right, given the Great and Terrible Evil that usually happens, is another matter entirely – I’d like to exercise my own right of free speech and dub these people Bloody Stupid for inflicting the lifelong, irremediable curse of ill-conceived nomenclature on the next generation. (Granted, one is perfectly free to go to court and pick a name of one’s own choosing, but with the time and expense involved I doubt many victims – yes, victims – of careless labelling will take that course of action.)

Moral of the day: give your child a name he won’t hate you for later. You wouldn’t want to get on his bad side when inflation causes your pension cheques to dwindle into chicken feed.

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5 Responses

  1. The inability of some parents to realize that THEY’D hate having such a name astounds me.

    That said, some silly name puns amuse me all the same. One of my teachers in middle school was Mrs. Bridges. Some years after I had her, she was expecting another kid. She joked that if it ended up a boy, she’d name him “London.” 😛

    (She had a girl. Her name is Emily.)

  2. At least they didn’t name their child Gaylord Focker

  3. Your examples seem trifling compared to this.

  4. @Kiri: “London Bridges.” Not bad! Name puns can turn out quite well for everyone involved, provided they’re carefully thought out and sound nice independent of the intended humorous reference.

    @Klutz1133: Given the (tragic) popularity of that film, I wouldn’t be surprised if some addled parents have already done so.

    @The Animanachronism: Point conceded. The judge’s ruling should have included a few weeks in gaol for that child’s parents.

  5. Now you’re making me rethink about naming any potential daughters Marisa or Remilia 😦

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