Blue Ivy, Talula Does The Hula From Hawaii and Simon – what’s in a baby name?
A situation is born – a raised eyebrow, maybe even a dropped wine glass. These names are not used anymore; they’re not in fashion.
No more do we see prammed-up infants who go by the name of Janet, Arnold or Roger. Sure, some names retain their usage throughout the ages: Anna, Elizabeth and Alice for example are as common today as there were 100 years ago.
But most come and go, and I just can’t imagine now, in 2012, a baby being introduced to me at a splendid lunch with cousins I don’t even know, as Nigel, or Susan, or possibly Howard. I might burst out laughing and have to leave with only a handful of sausage rolls and one last slurp of Chardonnay.
To some, these names hold a weight. They are applicable within comedy, using the mundane to amuse. Keith in the Office for instance: his stale and weary character was probably named Keith for a reason. It fits in well with accountancy.
What’s strange though, is that these may well return to glory in the coming years. For too long now we’ve been riddled with Jacks and Olivers. They’re over-used and the western world can only cope with so many. Soon, it will suddenly become normal again; or at least accepted, for baby Martin to visit baby Maureen and for a tea party to commence without any name-related travesty whatsoever.
It is not just the recycling of archaic names however that amuses. Celebrities love to heighten their chauvinistic tendencies and proclaim their differences. ‘Blue Ivy’ is a recent example of such tomfoolery. But not all of us are Jaz-Z– we struggle to place the same originality upon our children. Because they would be unable to retort, in the face of adversity: “well, my mum and dad are Jay-Z and Beyonce and so I couldn’t be called Simon, could I?”
Though in terms of famous fabrication, Blue Ivy is somewhat diluted. Frank Zappa displayed unrivalled fatherly ingenuity, calling his offspring: Moon Unit, Diva Thin Muffin Pigeen, Dweezil and Ahmet Emuukha Rodan.
While the slightly less successful in the music industry might deem these a little too far, people often copy celebs’ choices. Ava, a largely unpopular choice pre-Reese Witherspoon, jumped up to a top five spot in the US a few years later. And when Michelle Williams called her baby Matilda, it became a ‘hipster favourite’ in 2005 (oh dear), entering the elite top 1000 after 45 years out of the game.
But it’s not just celebrity-induced. We often see a maverick opting to mix it up. There are a fair few notably named children scattered around the place. According to one study, babies have been gifted names as irregular as ‘Pete Sake’ and ‘Minty Badger’ – although parents are still decidedly conservative on the whole. As I suppose, not all parents attended Art College or did enough LSD in the forest behind halls to warrant calling their first-born, say, Dancing Sausage.
There is argument opposing parental radicalism: baby name expert Julia Cresswell says that while celebrity children might “benefit from outrageous names,” as it gives them their own identity, “the less famous among us” might cause embarrassment later in life.
Many will recall two Kiwi parents ignoring Julia’s warning. It is undeniable that Talula Does The Hula From Hawaii might be bucking a little too hard to contain; there is a thin line between destroying a child’s life and simply wanting to be a bit different. It is said the girl referred to herself as ‘K’ to friends, in some painful masquerade. Maybe she was reading too much Kafka. Either way the name was cruel.
But within reason, why can’t ‘normal’ parents join the innovation and curdled diligence? Fifi Trixiebelle Geldof might be amusing to some, but a baby who goes by the name of Neil – as in the comedy Gavin and Stacey – is just as weird to me in our current day. It’s the sheer normality and blankness of Tony; the ever-present and erroneously stereotyped Sharon. These names carry life’s burden.
Unsurprisingly too, it is often suggested that ‘class’ plays an integral role in the naming process. Unfortunately, that is probably justifiable. I doubt you have ever bumped into Cosmo at your local Wetherspoon’s, or been introduced to Charlene while having dinner at the Dorchester.
Names aren’t just a source of comedy. They identify background often too – however extraordinary. And it shouldn’t be that way. It would be incredibly enjoyable to see an influx of Tarquins come straight out of a Glasgow council estate, and for a Chancellor to dismay us all in years to come by revealing himself as actually being named after Wayne Rooney. We all know our current financial expert changed his from Gideon to George. And the fact is he shouldn’t have had to. It should work both ways.
Will and Kate might consider kicking things off by calling their first-born Brian; or Tracey. It would make our distant monarch of the future more accessible. It would be different. And it would be funny.
An increase in varied names within society really might have a positive impact. While some are frankly too far – and indeed the line is a fuzzy one – parents should not be scrutinised for their Minty Badgers or Moon Units. Supposedly, one-in-five regret their choice anyway, so why not make it an exciting one?Tagged in: baby names, celebrity baby names
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