Monday, March 15, 2010
The Name Game, Part 2
Hi, I’m Noah! This summer my wife and I are having twins. Someday, they will rule Poland.
I promised you I would say more about the process of baby naming. So it’s time for more on names.
Today I want to talk about sources, places to look for names for babies.
A great source for names, from a Western perspective, is the Bible. Good solid names that stand the test of time. People know them and they can spell them … sometimes.
Sidebar: When Michael Jackson died, practically every trending topic on Twitter was about him, including “Micheal Jackson,” spelled M-I-C-H-E-A-L. Yes, enough people were spelling the name wrong to make it a Trending Topic. Enough people cared enough about Michael Jackson to tweet about him, but didn’t know how to spell the name Michael, which is the most popular boy’s name of the last 20 years. Seriously America, there is a reason why this country is now a wholly owned subsidiary of the People’s Republic of China.
I like Bible names for, somewhat obvious reasons, though, when I tell people my name is Noah and my brother is named Abraham, they tend to assume we’re insane Biblethumpers who were home-schooled to believe that the one true path to heaven comes from eating buttermilk and barley sandwiches and shooting Mexicans on sight.
Yes, my brother is named Abraham. My mother’s father was the most lapsed of lapsed Jews, yet somehow he wound up with grandsons named Noah, Benjamin, Abraham, Samuel, Aaron, Daniel and Jeremiah. Conversely his granddaughters all have Jane Austen names Jane, Jessica, Emma, and Tessa.
Another good source for names is Shakespeare. Actually Shakespeare isn’t so great for boy’s names, since they either tend to be standard English names like John and Henry or impossibly fanciful fake Italian names like Prospero and Malvolio or dirty jokes like Falstaff and Pickledick.
There isn’t really any Shakespearean character named Pickledick, but there ought to be.
But Shakespeare is FULL of great girl’s names – Cordelia, Miranda, Viola, Rosalind, Cecily, Portia, Etcetera.
Etcetera isn’t the name of a Shakespearean woman, but it ought to be.
Then, of course, there’s family names. Now, for my own personal taste, I’m not a great fan of giving a child your own name, or that of any close relative who’s still alive. Actually, in the Jewish tradition it’s considered unlucky to name a child after a relative who’s still living. But if you go back a few generations on your family tree, you’ll probably find some good ones.
Of course, this gets into the problem of giving your child a name that seems like an old person name. But remember, these things are cyclical. In fifty years, everybody’s grandmother is going to be named Brittany or Tiffany. Does this mean all the little girls born in 2060 will be named Ethel and Prudence? I don’t know, maybe, but I could definitely see some old lady names like Rose or Clara come back. Remember that only a few years ago, Sophia was totally a grandma name, and now it’s the _________ most popular name for baby girls.
On the other hand, some old names are NEVER coming back into vogue. For example … Dorcas. Yes, that is a real name, a real woman’s name. It’s not a HAPPY woman’s name, of course. There’s a reason why the song doesn’t go “Who’s skipping down the streets of the city, smiling at everybody she sees? … Everyone knows it’s Dorcas.”
Still so much more to say about names. Do you have other good sources to find great baby names? Let me know.