Monday, April 12, 2010

I Prefer Unique Names

I've been a name junkie for many years. It's not really normal typical for an 8 year~old to spend her free time looking through name books. But then again, I've never claimed to be typical. Or normal.

Popular and common names have never really struck my fancy. Give me an Imani or a Fabienne; an Evany or an Amaya; a Teagan or a Rachela, and I'm swooning. Little boys names are more difficult for me, but Julian, Talbot, Sibre, and Devondre don't exactly have a spot on the fifty most popular list.

So here I am, thinking I'm all snazzy and creative with my name preferences, yet somehow, I'm not usually a fan of celebrity baby names:

Apple {parents: actress Gwyneth Paltrow and Coldplay singer Chris Martin}
I can't see myself naming my child after a fruit.

Pilot Inspektor {parent: actor Jason Lee}

or after a uhhh..profession? Unless it's something like Mason or Archer.

Audio Science: {parent: actress Shannyn Sossamon}

or a subject at technical school.

Diva Thin Muffin {parent: musician Frank Zappa}

or after a food that is skinny and has impeccable fashion sense coupled with attitude.

There's a fine line between "Oh, that's unique!" and "Your name is WHAT??" {insert cross eyes}.

My {nearly} lifelong interest in names provoked me to buy a copy of April 2010's Psychology Today after seeing on the cover that the issue features an article about "a parent's experiment with unique names." These children's names ready?

Daughter: E
Son: Yo Xing Heyno Augustus Eisner Alexander Weiser Knuckles

Toto, I've a feeling we're not in Kansas anymore. We're in NYC to be exact, visiting an urbanite family whose daughter has the shortest name on record and whose son has the longest name in NYC. Their dad is Dr. Dalton Conley, a sociologist and professor at New York University. Apparently, these kids are a social experiment of sorts.

Their daughter was named E so that she could decide for herself when she's older what E stands for; they originally had planned to name her Early since she arrived two months before her due date. In the case of their son they tried to squeeze everything into their last child's name, including family names, names of former mentors, current favorite book characters, etc. They also wanted to give him an ethnically ambiguous name to challenge assumptions about race and assimilation in the U.S. Dr. Conley wonders if maybe he's placed monikers on his children that will hinder them or be psychologically damaging, but he comes to the conclusion that "A first name may convey an impression, but its power is fleeting." Siting several studies, he concludes that the person makes the name more than the name makes the person. The name effect disappears once we get to know a person.

Naming a child is so personal, yet the naming process and choices are clearly governed by social norms. My preference still lies with the unique but not bizarre choices...challenging the boundary line and defying the expected, but not catapulting into the unknown abyss of Knuckles Apple Muffin Inspektor.


  1. Photo credit to:

  2. Wow. Those are some frightening names, not gonna lie. (E and Yo... and the celebrity names, that is.)

    My family had a name book that I spent a great deal of time reading as a young child. My favorite names (back then) were rather old-fashioned and fussy. I wanted to have twelve children and I had names for all of them. The only ones I can remember now are Cordelia and Cornelia--unfortunate names for my pair of twins (what else?)

  3. Awww that's so cute that you had them all planned out!


Thank you for taking the time to muse aloud with me,
to share your heart
& allow your thoughts to become words.

Ƹ̵̡Ӝ̵̨̄Ʒ Leah