Tuesday, October 24, 2006

Unsolicited Naming Advice

With the excuse of two dear friends currently expecting their second children, my thoughts have been turning lately to baby names, and the perennial attempt to come up with something euphonious, meaningful, classic or else five minutes ahead of the trend (or both--the holy grail), but not so trendy that the playground will be full of coeval name-mates (like all those poor Amandas of the '80s). Turns out there's now useful software to help with some of the decision. If only my mom had had this before she gave me a name that was common as dirt and already on its downhill slide into post-saturation unpopularity when I was born ... (*snif*).

For general principles on what to name (and what not to name) your spawn, there's no better name book than Beyond Jennifer and Jason, Madison and Montana, whose authors make the point that while most baby-name books give a list of names and a (purported) etymology, it's really more useful to know whether, having hiply named your child Thelonious, "the esoteric appeal is worth the beatings." Don't downplay the importance of name meaning, though; a friend was explaining to me the other day how her daughter's (lovely and original) name meant both "gift of God" in one language and something else charming in another language, and then asked me what Offspring #2's name meant. I had to stare off in the distance and admit it's old Irish for "drunk." My friend's reaction made me feel like I had named my little princess Chainsaw Pitbull. But truthfully, "drunk" suits her personality pretty well.

Speaking of Montana--and Dakota, and Dallas, and Brooklyn--are we finished naming babies after places yet? You'd think Paris Hilton would have been the kiss of death for that trend, but in the last month I have encountered on the playground a tiny Oslo, and a toddling Lubbock. Lubbock! Bad enough people round here name their little scions Austin and Travis (really, people, do you want the post office to be that confused? maybe you could just change the last name to "78701"). I think it can't be very long before I meet my first teething Waco.


Blogger Kori said...

Hey! I love your name! Really! It also has a nice meaning(s)! Unlike my name that I have heard a whole slew of meanings for: dweller near a hollow, maiden, girl, daughter, ravine, or hollow. "Hello, I'm hollow!"...not much better than, "Hello, I'm Waco." Well, maybe a tad better. Also, I thought the girl in my son's kindergarten class was the only one named "Brooklyn". I guess you've caught on to a trend.

9:28 AM  
Blogger The Opinionated Homeschooler said...

Your parents did better with name choice, as your name was just on its upward popularity slope when you were born, and only cratered in the '90s. Along with all the similar names: try your name in the baby name software, replacing only the vowels ot make various other girl-sounding names. They all went out at exactly the same time, which seems to confirm the general observation that names in the last few decades gain and lose popularity in clusters. Like the Caitlyn/Kaylin/Keighlee/Cayley/etc. cluster, which has been wildly popular for the last decade and is only just starting to lose its shine.

6:04 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Funny, whenever I think of Offspring #2's name, I remember one of the heroines of the cartoon strip "Prince Valliant." She was a young woman of determination and wit.

9:09 AM  

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