Wednesday, December 30, 2009

The Name Game

Assigning a name to another human being is a huge burden.  I wish we could just be given numbers until a person is old enough to choose his/her own name.  Not that I have ever taken issue with my own name.  I never loved it, but it also never bothered me enough to want it changed.  I do, however, hate having to name my own child.  It was agonizing the first time and the second time is proving to be even worse. 

So what goes into this arduous task?  Well, given that we have a long and difficult to pronounce and spell last name, the first name has to be reasonably short and simple.  Of course, it also cannot be overly common.  For example, Olivia, our top pick this time around, just so happened to be the most popular name for baby girls in Oregon last year.  I guess you could say Olivia and Emma are to our children's generation what Jennifer was to ours. 

Once popularity and name length have been taken into consideration, one must look for potentially embarassing nicknames.  For example, Astrid was a name I had picked out years before having children.  I still love the name.  Unfortunately, the name has awful possiblities in terms of teasing and it was even exploited on the tv show The Office.  While Astrid is not 100% off the table, I'm not sure we can get past Dwight Shruit's banner welcoming "Baby Assturd." 

Now that the bad nicknames have been eliminated, the parents must think toward the child's future.  Will the name suit him/her in adulthood?  Will he/her be taken seriously as a professional?  Here not only does the cuteness factor come into play, but also unusual spellings.  If the person hiring for the position cannot pronounce your name, will that make them less likely to call you for an interview?  And when you already have a last name that no one in the English-speaking world will get right, the first name takes on even more importance.

And what about unisex names?  That opens a whole new can of worms.  Perhaps my new baby will be 17625 until she is ready to choose a name for herself.

No comments: