Diva Thin Muffin Zappa, Moxie Crimefighter Jilette, or Pilot Inspektor Lee? This is just a brief taste of names popping up in Hollywood.
It seems that Michael, Christopher, Amanda and Jennifer have become a bit too common for North Americans. These monikers have dropped from Canada’s top four names in the 1980s to absenteeism in 2010, except for Michael at position 35.
Tell me, why, oh why, are today’s parents so compelled to be so creative with names?
To be “more unique” than the rest? So their kids stand out? How about coaching them to be great at something—they’ll go farther in life with a stand-alone talent rather than a stand-alone name.
My five-year-old takes great delight in meeting someone with the same name; to her it’s like membership in the Sorority of Sameness. And, as per my experience, kids don’t like to be singled out, so any way to avoid that seems to be a simple little present a parent can give. Shall we register her Sparkle Luscious Unlee Thompson? It’ll be the same ridicule that hit the Canadian Reform Alliance Party before they wised up to their mistake.
When I was pregnant, my father pulled me aside for a bit of fatherly advice. Remember, he said, this child will be an adult signing cheques one day. Give her a name that won’t embarrass her. Right-o. I aimed for a normal name, considered whether the initials spelled something lewd, Googled it to ensure no serial killer shared the identity, and chose a name that my kid wouldn’t have to explain.
I guess Mawhnique’s parents didn’t share that concern.
Now, I’m the first to offer up the inane when a baby’s expected. Stanley or Kirstan for the Stanley Cup playoff baby? At least those are real names. As tacky as they are, they’re not illegal.
In many countries there are legal regulations on what a parent may name their child.
In Denmark, the country with the strictest naming laws, names are subject to the approval of the Ministry of Ecclesiastical Affairs and the Ministry of Consumer Affairs. Parents can choose from 3,000 names approved for boys, and 4,000 approved for girls. Of the names reviewed each year, 15 to 20 per cent are rejected, usually for odd spelling. Aerycha? Fine if it’s spelled Erica.
New Zealand courts also have a precedent of ruling on names. One N.Z. couple was banned from naming their child 4Real, and a nine-year-old girl there was recently given the right to change the name she hated: Talula Does The Hula From Hawaii. Yet, as sensible as this country’s stance seems on name governance, Violence and Number 16 Bus Shelter still made it to birth certificates.
In B.C. there really isn’t a formal policy on naming baby. Names that are suspect (offensive, or too long to fit on the birth certificate) are forwarded to the CEO of Vital Statistics for review. If he concludes the name is inadmissible, he issues a letter to the parent telling them just that. The suggestions that come in are generally wacky spellings of otherwise normal names, or “phrase names” like Jesusunderthelight.
Names are the gateway to a person’s personality, and the basis for first impressions. A baby called Apple might seem cute, but it probably won’t add to her credibility at the board table. Robyn Banks? Shanda Lear? Rick O’Shea? Frankly, Terri Bull.