Tuesday, March 22, 2005

The Naming of Children and Other Creatures

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This from Stray-Toaster has got me thinking about the naming of children.

...when I was born, Metal Guru was number one. (Which might explain some things, as my mother went from hippy to glam...)

Marc got off lightly as his Momma could have preferred Bowie and called him Ziggy. It has happened but not to anyone I know and obviously Marc's Momma loved him too much to impose that rarity on him.

I've often thought that it's a strange thing that something as personal as the name by which we are known is almost always chosen by another. Hopefully the namer thinks enough of us not to choose a name that is too outlandish. Like the silly young mum I came across who named her newborn Chardonnay. Beauteous Colleague enquired "How will you spell it? " Young Mum obviously hadn't a clue and shot back "The way it's spelt. How would you spell it?" Beauteous Colleague obliged as after all the Registrar might be a teetotaller but afterwards she commented "I should have told her it was spelt J-A-N-E and saved that child a lifetime of misery."

Now I got called for my maternal grandmother and the patron saint of childbirth who is, according to my mother, St Gerard Majella. My given name is Mary and when I were a lass all Catholics had a Mary of some hue in the family even when it was an all boy family. Irish tradition did not permit the familiarity of calling a sprog Jesus although the Spanish and Mexicans are cool with it. I had a short-term boyf called Jesus once upon a century ago. His best mate was called Jesus too but mine was the cutest Jesus in town.

I could write forever about names and I may come back to it sometime but here I'll make do with a short list of my likes and dislikes in names.

I like lots of names from the Bible, especially the Old Testament. Now daughters consider yourselves spared for I liked the names Job chose for his girls: Jemima, Kezia and Keren-happuch.

You could hardly go wrong with the OT for a damn, fine name. At random I found:

  • Moses
  • Bezaleel
  • Aaron
  • Zelophehad
  • Levi
  • Joash
  • Eli
  • David

Hmmm. well 5 out of 8 ain't bad. Girls didn't get many name checks in the OT, did they? I suppose it was a bit of a patriarchal society.

Now let's try the NT.

  • Jude
  • Zenas
  • Abraham
  • Jesus
  • Benjamin
  • John
  • Paul
  • Mark

That's 6 good ones. I'm not counting Abraham because I dislike that name ever since the Smurfs ruined it for me.

Now despite my great interest in things horticultural I'm not too keen on plant names. My blogname
Nelly Moser is a notable exception. But then Nelly wasn't actually a plant but a lady who gave her title to a very popular clematis.

Rose isn't a bad name but Primrose? Daisy, Holly and Poppy are all a bit Jamie Oliverish and are also very popular names for babes born in the Portland Hospital. Pansy is vile but I like Violet and Viola. And Olive is awful with all its Popeye connotations.

Funnily enough I'm not that keen on 'Irish' names especially the ones that are drawn from Celtic mythology. Maybe it's because Matty put me off naming my first-born 'Aoife' but I think the reason I don't like them is that in a sectarian society they'll define you before you've even had the chance to say 'haitch'. I don't like any name that's got an M followed by a H.

Now cast your mind back to the glam rock era. Nelly is sitting up in the maternity ward informing Matty of her choice of name for the first born.

"Aoife Mary. Aoife is Irish for Eve"
"Oh I don't like Aoife. How is it spelt?"
"Oh no. There's too many vowels. Nobody'll be able to spell that. Can't you call her Peggy. It's our Peggy's anniversary."

Next night

"I'm going to call her Zoe. Zoe Margaret because Zoe Mary sounds stupid and I'm calling her after your Peggy."
"Oh I don't like that. How is it spelt?"
"Nobody'll be able to spell that. Why don't you call her Margaret?"

Grrr! I didn't listen and kept Mary for Katkin's second name. And as far as I know Zoe likes her name. She's very insistent about the wee dots over the E.

One last thing - When Bert was in Australia the people he met there wouldn't call him Bert. They said it was an old man's name. Everybody who knew him in Oz called him Rob, which I actually like better than Bert. But the name Bert has grown on me now and it does lend itself to so many pet names - like Bertie, Bertram, Bertiekins and my favourite Bertie Boy. I asked him once if he didn't hate me calling him by those silly names but he said he didn't as it meant I was in a good mood.

And this is the very, very last thing - if there is some daft name that you like, don't give it to your kid. Give it to your cat, your dog, your fish, your horse or your teddy-bear. Actually I'm taking that back. It doesn't matter about the rest of that menagerie because they don't give a damn what they're called but you must give your horse or your dog a decent name. Unless of course you race them for money then anything goes.


Anonymous said...

I wish I had his cheekbones, all the same. (And my mother was indeed a Bowie fan, but I think ZSatSfM came after I was born. I think.)

Of course, you missed a Biblical NT name, my eldest, Matthew. And a historical name, my Alexander. (Which also has a bazillion diminutives.) You can cast about and find where Charlotte-Ann comes from. (Aside from just being a beautiful name.)

Glad to be an inspiration, and a corking post, m'dear.

Nelly said...

Thanks Marc - I did consider mentioning that you and your good woman chose names for your sprogs that meet with my higest approval but it might have come across as sucking up. I picked those Biblical names at random but you might be interested to hear that had my Katharine been a boy she would have been named Matthew.

Anonymous said...

And this is the very, very last thing - if there is some daft name that you like, don't give it to your kid.

Moreover, parents of the world, don't call your child something different to what's on their birth certificate. They'll only resent you for it.

Edward John (yet me ma get's very annoyed when I use the Ed bit, dunno why when she chose the bloody thing... grrr)

Anonymous said...

No mention of Hannah - its an Old Testament girlie name, mother of Samuel - your youngest.

Nelly said...

Edward is a good name and Ed is a good derivative. So is Ned (my granda's name) and is it true that Eamon is Irish for Edward? But Ted stinks. You're not going to like this Zoe & Katy but Hannah is my favourite (name) but that's because I was more mature when she was born. And youse have always been able to pose as Prods whenever it suited you. I cast my mind back to that eedjit Hannah at the 11th night celebrations in Slatt a bit worried because she didn't know the words of the songs. I'd have been worried if she did know them.

Anonymous said...

i like the name ziggy but dont think it goes with either mine or jamies surnames. we've also been considering rudolph as a potential name altho i do so in jest but i think jamies actually serious.


Nelly said...

If you call any grandson of mine Rudolph I shall call him Rudie or Rude. It's a dodgy one that - conotations of dangerously sexy, gay ballet dancers with an extra pair of dancing pumps stored in the crotch area.

Reuben's a good name innit? Although it's a bit pikey. Sorry Rube in Canada.

Anonymous said...

Is Reuben a pikey name, i associate it with posh thespian types. does pikey mean the same in ireland as it does in stoke?rudolph would probably get called rude or rudie but my pet name for him would be dolphy.


Nelly said...

Romanies (pikeys)often choose Old Testament names like Reuben, Zachary, Cain (think Dingle).

That was what was dopey about Guy Ritchie's 'flim' with Mr Pitt. He didn't seem to know where Romanies ended & Travellers began. Apparently hey hate each other.

Anonymous said...

Hiya Mary, Beauteous Colleague here! I can't believe you remember me saying that about poor wee Chardonnay! Did you know said mother has had two more sprogs since? Our great and glorious leader and me were wondering what she called them - Budweiser and Tequila maybe?

Nelly said...

Well hi BC. You should call round more often. I always, always remember the good ones.