What’s In A Name? that which we call a rose | By any other name would smell as sweet…
This morning I overheard a mother screaming at her young son who was running dangerously around a very busy car park. She seemed more concerned about his chocolate consumption than by the very high likelihood he might be hit by a car. My point, however, is not to criticise this mother’s parenting, or the fact that she left her trolly in an empty parking spot. My point is to criticise her son’s name, a decision in which I assume she played part: “Zeppelin, that’s enough! You’ll make yourself sick, Zeppelin! You can eat the rest after dinner, I promise!” Zeppelin. As in Led. I’m not joking, and I’m quite sure she wasn’t joking either. This got me thinking about names; the good, the bad, and the ugly. (It also got me thinking about whether or not I like children, but that’s a moral debate much too serious for Taggle Talk.)
The concept of a name is really quite funny. When you think about it, a name is basically a word used to label a baby before it’s old enough to have any say in the matter. Tradition and culture are often to blame, as are trends and celebrities. More often than not, names don’t mean anything. They’re just words parents like the sound of, or deem to be ‘cool’. Whatever – I’ve got a bone to pick with any parent who calls their innocent child Zeppelin. Don’t get me wrong, I appreciate Led Zeppelin’s ‘Stairway to Heaven’ as much as the next person. What I don’t appreciate is the unlawful act of naming one’s child Zeppelin because either a) it’s cool, b) no one else’s child is called Zeppelin, or c) Gwyneth Paltrow named her daughter Apple so anything goes. People, there is no excuse.
On the 28th day of August in 1991, my parents named me Emily. Had I been a boy, my mother said they’d have named me Elliot. In 1991, the name Emily was 10th on the list of Australia’s most popular girl names. It maintained a position in the top 10 every year until 2012. By today’s naming standards, this high ranking of popularity makes my name exceptionally boring. Other exceptionally boring names include Sarah, Stephanie, Michael and Joshua. Unless of course you are a boy named Sarah or a girl named Michael, which I would not put past today’s ‘trendy’ parents. What name, I hear you ask, replaced Emily in the top ten on the list of popular girl names? Harper. Like the string instrument, but with -er. This trend is the fault of Posh Spice, who named her adorable baby girl Harper in 2011. But it’s not the name I despise (I actually quite like it); I despise those who follow trends when it comes to something as serious as naming your human child. Baby names aren’t Birkenstocks. (Please don’t called your child Birkenstock.)
So far this year in the USA, three baby girls have officially been named Blip. Seriously. This is rather ironic considering the Oxford English Dictionary defines ‘blip’ as an “unexpected, minor and typically temporary deviation from a general trend”. Three other girls have been named Fairy, there is a three-month old Kiwi living in Minnesota and a little boy called ‘Ajax’ in Soho, New York City. In my country, ‘Ajax’ is a popular brand of spray and wipe, highly effective in cleaning kitchen counters and shower screens. All of the following names have at one point been granted to real human beings: Swag, Butt, Hotdog, Butter-bean, Phone, Freak (that’s just cruel), Poopy (even crueler), Superman, Mushroom and…wait for it…Elbow.
Once upon a time little girls were named after the loveliest of flowers; Poppy, Rose, Daisy. Now, the trend seems to lie in edible goods. There is a Cheese living somewhere north of Boston, and not one, but two little Danishes in California. There’s also a Rocket but it’s hard to know whether she was named after a type of lettuce or a type of transportation to the moon. I am willing to bet my life on there being a baby Quinoa somewhere out there in the world. And perhaps a Kale.
In Iceland, names must be chosen from a register of 1712 male and 1853 female approved names. I feel as though it wouldn’t be a bad idea for this law to be imposed on the rest of the world. But then again, I quite desperately want to meet someone named Hotdog.