Monday, September 17, 2012

Judgement & Classy Names

I was recently told the name of a new baby in my family's circle, and having seen a lot of names, it didn't really affect me at first since it wasn't tacky. My parents were quite confused by this unusual and trendy name, and upon further thought, I realized I did have an impression - but it wasn't an impression of the child, it was for the parents. Other than being pleasantly surprised by how unusual the name was (and my relatives/friends close enough to call relatives do have amazing taste in names) I recalled the age of the parents and thought, "This seems like they were trying way too hard to be "young and hip." In my line of work I also meet many kids with unusual names and sometimes find it hard not to think something [mostly harsh] of the parents for choosing that name, especially when the name is conventionally said one way, but the child corrects you and gives you a completely out-of-nowhere pronunciation. Spelling is a whole different story, as I see no reason to spell Darien as Daryon, or Katherine as Kathyrine. I can't help thinking this way; I'm only human. I know I shouldn't judge, but most people do naturally, and it's only fair to you that you know no matter what name is chosen someone is going to have an opinion.

Your kid's name really tells the world more about you than your kid, and therefore I present the point of this post: the judgement will be passed on you until the kid turns into an adult. After all, you're the one that picked it - your kid probably would have picked something that told the world more about them.

All children, at some point, will have judgement passed on their name. It ranges from, "Wow, that's pretty!" to "I can't believe they picked something so stupid!" For example, one problem is how serious a name will be taken. Not often enough do we stress the fact that you are choosing a name for a future adult, not a little bundle of joy that will remain small and cute forever. And it's really hard for, say, an interview committee to say "Why yes, I think Tinkerbell would make an excellent doctor here." How unfair to that woman, but that's how most people think. The woman named Rose with the exact same credentials will probably get the job instead.

Is there any way to avoid negative reactions, even if they're not spoken out loud? As mentioned earlier, all names will receive some kind of reaction, and there will always be someone who doesn't like one. But one good way to pick a name that is generally well-liked and has no markers for negativity is to find a name with a happy medium of popularity that sounds familiar or is easy to understand/spell/say. For some that means a name that is not in the top 1000 but for others it is something not in the top 100. A few good examples are Rosalind, Faye, Belle, Hadrian, Alasdair, and Lavinia. None in the top 1000, but almost everyone is familiar with them (in a good way - Anakin ranks among them but is not exactly sophisticated). They're legit names that are mid-range popular or "rare," and they're classy. And classy names not often heard almost always get pleasant reactions. Lydia, Caroline, Elena, Celia and even more unusual feminine names like Oriana and Seraphina have a classy feel to them, and you probably don't know more than one or two. In which case, it's really up to the namesake to make the reaction unpleasant. However, names that are so popular that everyone in the country has heard them before, not necessarily in person, go from being classy to trendy, and before long you're getting comments like, "Another Jayden, seriously?!"

This doesn't mean you have to pick something tame. By all means, go for Ambrosia or Nazarene or Equinox, because the look and/or sound is something we can make sense of. They obey the laws of grammar, phonetics, and traditional spelling. The history also qualifies them as classy. Rare French fairy tale princess name? Classy. Ancient Greek goddess? Classy. Vintage gemstone name? Classy. Used on several famous people way back when? Classy. Has no meaning whatsoever (or you made one up) and fits right in with Pixie, Deziyer and Peytin? Definitely not classy; prepare for judging glances.

What are your thoughts on the matter?

1 comment:

  1. I was once taught by a nurse with a master's degree whose name was Cinderella, and she used her full name... so an "unclassy" name doesn't always hinder success.