Tuesday, 31 March 2015

What's in a Name? Baby Names Taking Over Our Lives...

Grandchild due in a few weeks, and baby names have been thrown about the house like Frisbees as the eager parents try to select just the perfect one for their child. It's a big responsibility, finding the right name for a baby. You want something that will age with them as they grow (you don't want to saddle a dignified seventy-year-old with a name like Bubba or Candi), but you don't want something so elderly and antique it sounds as if the newborn will emerge wearing hoop skirts.

Some people name their infants after relatives and friends, on the assumption that the person after whom the baby is named will turn out to be a good person in the end, and the baby's name is meant to honour them. Let's hope Wilfred I doesn't turn out to be a bank robber in his old age, or Wilfred II will be marred for life. I always stayed away from family names, simply because I knew I would not have enough children to cover all bases, and I didn't want any relatives feeling left out. (Last grandchild gets eight names...) There was also the thought that I wanted my children to feel free to be their own people, without having to live up to anyone else's reputation. I needn't have worried; my children definitely ended up their own personalities.

Then there are the trendy popular names, which always seem to end in i. Take any noun, add an i to it, and you have the head cheerleader of 2030. Some people name their children after movie stars or great scientists or politicians. I know one man who named his son Walden because he admired Thoreau. Some people use names of plants (Rose, Willow, Rowan, Myrtle, Poppy, Daisy, Heather, and yes, even Bracken). Some fall back on reliable Bible names, but even these have a hierarchy (Gideon or Matthew okay, Belshazzar and Jezebel, not so much). Parents of twins tend to lean toward rhyming names or alliteration. And some latch onto "foreign"-sounding names because they sound exotic, not realizing what they've placed upon their children (hint: don't name your daughter Bronwen. Trust me on this). In my high school French class there was a girl named Beth Ann, and the French teacher would say her name in a French accent and then giggle... (Think about it. Well, she deserved the name, really. She once asked in class in all sincerity, "What does na├»ve mean?") But to be fair to her parents, you can't anticipate every situation, and how were they to know she would end up in a French class one day?

My son and daughter-in-law are leaning toward the Nordic (after watching too many episodes of Vikings, I assume) or Celtic (to reflect their Newfie and Irish heritage). And you're kind of stuck when your surname is McKendry. Ideas have ranged from Brynjolf to Ragnar. We will see what wins out.

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