Saturday, 25 April 2009

The name game

Names are important. They state who we are and, sometimes, a bit about ourselves. First names, middle names, last names; they all play a part in our lives. Often names are chosen for their meaning, or because they have special cultural relevance, or are part of a family tradition. Many names are chosen because parents simply like the sound of it. Then there are the names where we can only guess at what their parents were thinking at the time ...

The book I am reading at the moment mentions a character who wanted to call her baby daughter Spring Flower, but her mother insisted she be called Erin instead. A TV programme I watched years ago had a couple name their baby Tuesday. Predictably, the baby's grandfather asked "and what will we call her tomorrow?" It got me thinking about the most, erm, unusual names I had come across.

Some celebrities are well and truly onto the name game bandwagon with their offspring. In fact, it's almost compulsory these days to see who can compete for most unusual name and, as a result, see who can make the biggest chunk of world's population shudder in response. I think Frank Zappa took out the overall first prize when he rounded up the most eclectic collection of words in naming his clan (Diva, Moon Unit, Dweezil and Ahmet). Still, the Geldof family must get an honourable mention here (Fifi Trixibelle, Peaches and Pixie). Same for the Willis/Moore brood (Rumer, Scout LaRue and Tallulah Belle). Then there's the next generation: Apple Martin, Bluebell Madonna Halliwell, Jamie Oliver's daughters (Poppy Honey, Daisy Boo, and Petal Blossom Rainbow, their latest addition), and Sunday Roast Rose Kidman Urban. There's an interesting list here.

I heard that someone I was at school with has named her two daughters Summer and Willow. Somehow, I'm not surprised. Everyone seems to know of the proverbial twins, Benson & Hedges; somehow I think this one is an urban myth, even though others will argue to the contrary. Likewise Mt Albert Bus Stop (or another suburb name).

Every year, staff at most schools I have taught in have a mini-competition whereby we lightheartedly compare the names of students in our class this year and debate a winning order. Most years, the results were similar.

Here are a few of the most unusual names of students I have taught or had at my school in the past:
  • Tequila Sunrise - I kid you not. She won, hands down, several years running.
  • Quilla Moonbeam - Although I've never met another Quilla Moonbeam, and am unlikely to any time in the future, somehow she was such a Quilla Moonbeam that I wonder how her parents could possibly have known when they named her.
  • Zion and Jahraina - Sisters. Jahraina had terrible trouble with spelling, even in the best of times, so it took her longer to learn to spell her name than was reasonable and fair for her, poor dear.
  • Antalya and Tegwen - Again, sisters. I know these are both actual names/places (Antalya is a city is Turkey and Tegwen is Welsh in origin). They were just very unusual names in my class at the time and took a bit of getting used to by the other children.
  • Stormy - I have come across the name Storm several times, but poor Stormy had trouble trying to convince some people that this was his actual name and not a nickname.
  • Sequoia - more than a mouthful for this poor lass.
  • Chiquita - ditto.
What's the most unusual name you've come across in real life?

1 comment:

Kellee said...

My favourite person I know...not so much unusual as unfortunate. I know a Bart Simpson...who was about 8 years old when the show hit Australia. Growing up in a small town we all knew him and thought it was funny...but these days no one believes him when he introduces himself.