Steven D. Levitt
07/24/2012 | 2:04 pm
This piece on baby names by Drew Magary made me laugh out loud. I sent it to my wife, and she laughed so hard she cried.
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gawd. thank you so much, Steyyfinn.
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I motion that “Weird Baby Names” be forever banned from freakonomics. Do I hear a second?
Isn’t this a form of child abuse? Maybe not, as weird names become the new norm.
Doing an intake at my job I encountered a young woman [fudging here] Bcda. I made my best guess and she became angry and informed me that her name was B’key-da. Thanks — a couple vowels would have helped.
Yes. Feel free to mix in a few vowels. They’re here for you.
In New Zealand, and a few other countries like Sweden it is genuinely treated as such and you can have names rejected often by judges (that get added to a ban list).
RHCP drummer recently baffled the audience by a new tattoo saying “Cash.” Questions followed. Turns out, it’s not the pecuniary kind: rather, it is the second name of his son who shares a birthday with Johnny Cash.
Our next door neighbor is a NICU & L&D nurse at a Houston hospital that sees a fair amount of inner city traffic and sees creative names (How many ways can one spell Katelyn?), laden with punctuation, almost daily. Not only do the parents not know how names are usually spelled, they don’t know what punctuation is called. One mother got particularly irate when my neighbor didn’t know an apostrophe is actually called, I kid you not, “a comma to the top” and saw fit to argue when told the correct name of the punctuation. She has gotten to the point that she simply asks the parents of the new baby to write down the name for her.
Exactly why we didn’t use Katelynn, Caitlyn, Catlynn, Kaitlyn.. you get the point..
You’d be surprised how many different ways you can spell a name. When we named my daughter Addelyn, I made a spreadsheet that automatically generated different ways of spelling the name (i.e. two ‘d’s or one, ‘e’ at the end or not…etc.) It created over 1000 variations, and of those, there were at least 20 that looked appealing. However that also means that there were over 980 ways NOT to spell it.
ADDELYN? If you’re not part of the solution…
As a former teacher, this article really struck home. I have spent many Septembers carefully studying names and then practicing pronunciation (yeah, that kid with the last name Cockburn was SO happy when I pronounced it correctly–coh-burn). A few gems from the past include: Toshiba (I kid you not), and Mizebra (pronounced my-zebra). Try to find those on bicycle license plates. My other favorite is dual gender names–you don’t know what you’re gonna get til they walk in the door.
That article was amazing… Especially about the people that cannot spell. It is easier to accept a unique spelling versus a total misspelling that they don’t figure out until years later. Punctuation really must go away; we are going to have to make legal guidelines for naming children in the US.
There are whole categories of yuppie white names: it’s like a chose your own adventure book.
Names of professions: tanner, baker, archer, Parker
Old presidents: Jackson, Madison, Jefferson, (treasury secretary) Hamilton
Any surname period. I think the goal here is to make your kid sound like a law firm….Riker Logan Howe.
Giving your kid a waspy surname as their first name is the yuppie/swpl equivalent of a black couple giving their kid a faux-African name. I’m not generally a fan of measures described above such as requiring names to be approved by a judge, but this kind of cruelty has to stop.
My name is Shona. I love it. It is used in several cultures and is also the name of an African language and tribe.
5 letters, 2 syllables, pronounced phonetically in English. Still, I always need to spell it for others and help with pronunciation.
Heaven help children whose names are misspelled…I mean spelled uniquely. What is accomplished by naming a girl M’Kailla, other than guaranteeing that she will have her name misspelled and mispronounced 100% of the time?
exactly why we didnt’ use Michaela because so many parents are spelling it with a k and a y as in Mikayla because of someone on tv whose parents didn’t know how to spell using it..
The author makes a valid point but goes overboard with strong language. That reaction itself shows the mistaken concern that naming should adhere to some rules. Perhaps all parents should assign names until children reach adulthood and are allowed to accept or get alternative names. This will not cure the problem of weirdness but would save adults from taking the externalities from a very original name.
Next time, please warn us before you link to a site that is so downright nasty. I have some standards, even if Freakonomics seems willing to provide an audience for a bunch of people who need to demean and swear to make their point.
(my dream name for my hypothetical son: Lexx. Hypothetical daughter: Tai. I’ll see myself out now…) Oh, wait. How about the rather hoity-toity names bestowed on mundane Amurican kids, example: there is a house behind us with a pool, and their LOUD foolish offspring are in it all summer, and all I hear all day besides “halp! Maaaa….he’s drowning me! Halp!” is the mom bellowing: “Worthington! Stoppit! Jessamyn, help Callista! Buckingham, put on your shorts!” And that pool is full of fat little Bobby Hills! (or Rita Sues, or Dora Mays, or Stoshes, or Bubbas)…sorry to be cranky, but a fine moniker for a fat little tub makes me giggle…
Dobyrman isn’t really my name… but I saw it in the article and liked it so much…
A friend of ours works in the Obstetrics ward of a city hospital. She is constantly amused (and appalled) at the names some people inflict upon their newborn. One woman announced that she wanted to name her new daughter Chlamydia. She had seen it on a poster in the hospital and thought it sounded very pretty.
Wow those ARE bad. I think the worst problem is that people who do NOT know how to spell are not checking with those who DO know how to spell in order to name their kids.. that and that the newest parents grew up on texting and the whole… ‘younique’ situation. Yes, I spelled it wrong on purpose. My kids have Irish surnames for first names but they are not uncommon or out there, just not common in our (midwestern, every boy is named Ben or Luke, all girls are Olivia and Sophie per the trend)… area of the US.
Btw, loved the parts of the freakonomics books on child naming. Lemonjello and Orangello, lol.
I often wonder how many of the apostrophes in names were intended to be accent marks, only the namer didn’t know the difference. Amare’, for example. Because the apostrophes usually signify nothing, but are often in a place you might conceivably want to have an accent mark.
True story via a L & D nurse: a woman who had just given birth wanted to name her daughter “Vagina”. Apparently, during delivery, that word was mentioned and she thought it sounded beautiful. (She never actually heard that word before.)
After given the definition of what a vagina was, she changed her mind. To “Ragina”.
I’m wholly on board with the whole “outright stupid name”-watching game, but I completely disagree with most of this. I’ve been thinking for years that the perception of required homogenization of names is weak at best and more likely intellectually and morally shallow. It simply doesn’t fit with the evolution of human civilization, language, and intellect. I’m sad that people are so close-minded and afraid of the any deviation.
Last June my girlfriend/mother of my child saw me writing feverishly at my desk and asked me what am I doing.
“I’m making a list of all those F’d up names names people keep naming their kids!”
…It’s almost an obsession.
I’d love to share this story with my friends, but I don’t think we’d be friends too much longer (there are too many Baisleys Huxleys and Baxters amongst their children)
Loose the coarse language. It’s TOTALLY unnecessary and unprofessional.
I, too, work in the medica profession and keep a list of the most ridiculous names. This week’s winner is Scholastique. Previous winners include Shatanyaniquacuca (yes sounds like it’s spelled), Captain Lovingly Queen, Passion Jackson (would have assumed it was a stripper name, except the girl was 4 yrs old), Bewilder, Cinderella, Ti’a, and numerous others with oddly placed apostophes. Seems like the boys names are slightly less ridiculous, but there is definitely a trend here in the south to name one’s son Remington, Winchester, and other brand names of weaponry. So sorry I don’t have my weird names list handy at the moment, because there were so many more that would have had you all rolling on the floor.
I can identify with your comments, for my coworkers it became a game to see the names we could find everyday and we were not disappointed. Blood(yours or mine),Cotton candy, Kitty Little, Merry Christmas(Aunt )and Carol Christmas(niece) Armo(and Hammer), Mazola,Arzola(butter ?) , Nyquilla ,Kip(and Bits), Taseline(Vaseline, Maybe) Rubeye(new steak),Zolona(new Bologna) Saturdia(new day in the week), Sundarie,Tikilla(to kill her or)Veleka(liquor) . The humor behind the name became the fun side for me . Q, U, were the shortest of my finds and X non-existent.
Worked in childcare for many years and have heard some strange ones…….some that come to mind….Lemonjello, Pajama, and Vagina, people, please, really?
One of my friends teaches elementary school, and has a heckuva (new idea?) time trying pronounce kid’s names at the beginning of each year. HOWEVER, there is one that really had her stumped. It was the lovely moniker L-sha.
I’m serious, this is also on the child’s birth certificate…Give up??— LaDASHa
I have tears. That is hilarious!!!!!!
I worked at a hospital where one day after viewing often strange names , I began collecting them and then to further add to the names I began adding comments on what it sounded like. My list goes as far back as Amos and Andy(Kingfish etc. and Laurel and Hardy on Whose on first , I don’t know on third.and Whats on Second. During the war, women whose fathers blessed them with Male names during the drafts were called up for service. Ethnic names of 10 or more letters in the first name, Old fashion names,Ivory Lard, Pig Meat, Bamboo, Berkenya, Kenyatta. My humor list was CHATTIE,(before or After) ARPHINE(and I know it) ESCORING(OR you are not playing)the name that started my research was Chinchanchewula. IDRAINA(while you filla) Nothing has escaped being used as a name Groceries, Pharmaceuticals, flowers, cars , alcohols, flowers, states, countries . Famous people who changed their unruly names, last names, Bibilical names. I have them all , many with funny notations for how it sounds. My last name Cluster had no contingents in the telephone directory , it actually years ago was not in there and if you find it there are only about three or five. If you want to hear some really interesting names I have over a thousand or more that will blow your imagination.
I have just submitted a few names and comments about them. Moving on Sir Claude, Be Note, Admiral, gaylord, Suddely(actually not soon enough) Thedford , Flash(super hero), Wellenton(female) Richard Mae,Chesterfield(cigarette) Dorami(should I say more)Theodocia,Imoleleanor(I was fat)Vero(before Or after Hero?) Vonceal(you tell me)Precious Darling(Oh yes) I have names from A to Z, men and women How about Pallas Recha(no comment)?
Phthisis. I repeat, Phthisis, which has to do with tuberculosis. I read in a baby name book that there was one family that gave their poor doomed kid this name, loooong ago. As TB was so common, I guess they decided, kid’s not gonna live, why bother with a proper name. Sounds so very ugly, doesn’t it?
what about Abdul Mischief?
My middle name has an apostrophe. I have always understood that is because the name comes from an African language– the ‘ marks a glottal stop.
Which may have helped pronunciation in Africa but to me mostly just means I have trouble entering my full name into computers– despite the apparent boom in these kinds of names, most forms can’t handle an apostrophe.
The underlying – and often outright – racism in these discussions is appalling.
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