Gwyneth Paltrow named her baby after a fruit. I will not. Fast forward to a kindergarten scene. “Apple, have your parents gone bananas?”
Someone once gifted me Lindt chocolates, saying that was the closest they could get to my name – now THAT is the kind of sweetness we need in this world. Even with a plain name like mine, I have been addressed as Linta, Lynta, Leenta, Lynda and even Linden. So chums stick to old nicknames or pet names. Some call me Jo and others – Anne or Anna, versions of my baptismal name. I have given up trying to make people spell or pronounce my family name. It took ME ages to by-heart that one. So any of these would work.
My favourite teacher in college introduced himself as Oommen Mathew. “I have tolerated Omen, I have tolerated Oman and I once even tolerated Woman”, he said and made us freshers write down and learn – the right way to spell his name.
A pair of twins called Democracy and Independence always hesitated to go on stage to collect prizes, I hear. “High school kids can be mean“, their friend Pretty who went to university with me, told me. No doubt they shared a sympathetic bond.
Some names become extra special when joined with their surnames – such as Amber Glass, Paige Page, Rusty Nail or Russel Sprout. I sincerely hope that these people (if they really exist) do not have to call 911.
Celebrities give us a template for baby-naming just like they influence our tastes in fashion or lifestyle – when Robert Rodriguez’s babies are named Racer, Rebel, Rocket, Rogue and Rhiannon, you definitely want to catch up. Hollywood saddles its newborns with cool names from Jason Lee’s Pilot Inspektor to Bob Geldof and Paula Yates’s Fifi Trixiebelle. After a French Poodle? No. Fifi was the name of Bob’s aunt. Trixiebelle was the middle name after Paula’s fascination with being a southern belle, I read. Puhleese.
Erykah Badu and Andre 3000 are reputed to have stolen their baby’s name from a Seinfeld episode in which George wants to name a baby after a number. They complied by naming their child Seven. Before I forget, Jane Goldman and Jonathan Ross have Betty Kitten, with Honey Kinney and Harvey Kirby, to complete their family circle.
Elon Musk and Grimes’s baby boy is XÆA-Xii. I kept hearing ‘crazy’ until I heard it’s pronounced ‘X-Ash’. Nope, not crazy at all. No more of Brangelina, but Shiloh Pitt has to live with that name. Do you think that Brad and Angelina realised that their child’s name was a perfect example of spoonerism? Shiloh Pitt becomes Pile of …(okay, that’s out of my system)
Then consider rocker Frank Zappa’s kids’ names – Moon Unit, Dweezil, and Diva Thin Muffin. More recently, rapper Cardi B named her baby girl Kulture. And lest we forget, there are more – Apollo Bowie Flynn, Kingston James McGregor, and Zuma Nesta Rock (children of Gavin Rossdale and Gwen Stefani) Cricket Pearl and Birdie Leigh are the children of Busy Philipps – was Busy too busy to check a book of baby names, wonder fellow mums, who search the net for baby names. And Rosalind Arusha Arkadina Altalune Florence (1 kid) has a mum named just Uma (Thurman). Why, oh why?
Patricia Quinn called her son Quinn, making him Quinn Quinn (Major Major from Catch-22, was promoted to the rank of major and squadron head and became ‘Major Major Major Major’)
More children today have first names such as Espn (pronounced Espen) and ABCDE (pronounced Abseedee) Science takes credit for Archimedes and Diesel; while geography and the weather takes credit for Dakota, India, Paris, Savannah, Summer, Misty and Sandy. Names of food and drink abound – Ginger, Chardonnay, Peach and the like. More names for animal and nature lovers – Dove, Puppy, Tiger, Oak, etc. I actually like floral names – Daisy, Iris, Rose…
I have heard a joke about a family with the surname Down, calling their three sons Neil, Bob and Ben and their one daughter Ida. It has to be a joke. Life cannot be that cruel.
When we decided to choose a name for our son, we were amazed at the new spellings of common names, which must be killing schoolteachers. I visited a chat board for ‘kool’ baby names and saw ‘Freddio’ – “a cross between my father Freddie and my favourite chocolate bar ‘Freddo’ “ says one mother; ‘Judo’ – “because my best friend is called Judy and I promised her I would call my kid after her, but of course I couldn’t call my son Judy, could I?”, asks another. Hold on a minute, while I pry myself off the ceiling.
We were also worried when a banker told us that the names of his 6 children began with A, because they should be first in class roll. I thought that they had run out of alphabets.
A study done in 2017 found that many names of materials were given as names that year – Denim, given to 141 boys and 53 girls and Suede given to five boys – are two of the most out-there.
The world loves giving names that bestow children with power, wealth and a regal air. While Earl, Duke and Queenie are old favorites, some of the more outlandish ones given out today include Kaiser, Caesar, Pharaoh, Empress, Heiress, Milady, General, Czarina, Czar, Duchess (the misspelled version ‘Dutchess’ went to 11 girls) and Sirprince.
Some expatriate Asians choose names such as Neel or Dev for their sons, because they can smile graciously when their English friends call them Dave or Neal. Clever. Relatives and family members influence the choice of a baby’s name, studies say. But before you name your first born after Uncle Bartholomew, remember that uncle still has plenty of time to get married and name one of his own sons after him. Remember how Cousin Balthazzar suffers in his classroom.
Some might call my taste in baby names painfully plebeian and prosaic. After all, it’s your baby and you can be a bit more adventurous in your choice of a name. You might not want your son to be one among ten Marks in his class. I love old fashioned names with beautiful meanings and admire some unique names. But I am not really a fan of ‘kreativ’ names. I have trouble remembering Matt and Sarah, not having to worry with an ‘Elijah Bob Patricus Guggi Q’, from Bono.
By Linda Joseph Kavalackal,
Christ & Co.