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Authoritarian naming

A court in Iceland has ruled that a 15-year-old girl can officially use her name. It seems that in Iceland there is a Naming Committee, and they can reject names that are not grammatically correct, or are “too masculine”.

There is a lot wrong with this. But I am most confused about one thing.

“I’m very happy,” Blaer said after the ruling.

“I’m glad this is over. Now I expect I’ll have to get new identity papers. Finally, I’ll have the name Blaer in my passport.”

Why does anyone care about the opinions of officials? None of my friends has ever asked to see my identity papers.

58 comments to Authoritarian naming

  • Lee Moore

    Perhaps because officials seldom allow us to take or leave their opinions ? If your official name is Rob Fisher, but the name you have always been called by friends and family is Joystick McGillycuddy, there is always a danger that in form filling, or discussions with tax officials, or immigration officers, or municipal dog catchers, you will unthinkingly introduce yourself as Joystick McGillycuddy. An official presented with what he regards as a correct name will be irritating, self important and impertinent. But an official presented with what he regards as a false name, or one presented with a “client” who seems confused as to his name, is liable to be an order of magnitude more tiresome.

    As someone with both a name and an address that are prone to misspelling, I know whereof I speak. The official mind is not designed for flexibility. If the name on your passport is not exactly the same as the name on your gas bill, you are a suspicious character.

    And not entirely changing the subject, is there any evidence of money laundering regulations catching a money launderer, ever, anywhere ? Or is the sole effect to annoy ordinary people ?

  • Sigivald

    I think the idea is she’d like to travel and not have to explain to Customs why her passport just says “girl”…

  • Jaded Voluntaryist

    When I was an undergraduate I met a Chinese girl who had been sent to this country to study her parent’s subject of choice. I was telling her my wife had just had a baby and all about how we chose a name. She couldn’t believe that we could just name our baby whatever we felt like. I don’t know if she meant that China legally constrains the naming of children, or if it was more a “cultural thing”. Either way the end result was the same – a girl who had never encountered the concept of individual liberty before.

    A few weeks later she broke down in tears in the middle of a class during a discussion about our long term goals. Coming to University in the UK had opened her mind to a seemingly new concept – that it was possible for a person to do what they wanted, rather do what other people wanted them to do. She didn’t want to study what her parents had chosen for her. Her dream was to become a film director.

    I lost track of her after that. I hope she achieved her dream.

  • PersonFromPorlock

    It may not be all that authoritarian: in a country with a small gene pool and a patronymic naming system, avoiding inbreeding could be a problem. I seem to recall (not sure and too lazy to look) that there was some system in Scandinavia of naming people after relatives in their line that made it possible to track family relationships, and it may be that this is what the Naming Committee was designed to enforce.

    Did they go overboard in this case? Probably. There’s no guarantee that a reasonable purpose will yield reasonable processes or results. But the Committee’s existence may not be as gratuitous as you think.

  • Nick (nice-guy) Gray

    Rob has more than one friend? I don’t believe it!!!

  • Nick (nice-guy) Gray

    Here in Australia, we have an UNofficial naming system. Because of all the iron, we use irony. A tall bloke will be called Shorty by his mates, a red-headed guy will be called Bluey, and all politicians are called ‘Honest’. See how easy it is?

  • Julie near Chicago

    I have the impression that Denmark and Sweden, at least, have official lists of acceptable baby names from amongst which one must choose the new little one’s moniker. I’m pretty sure I saw a quote from some benighted blighter of a State’s Spokesman (or, probably, -woman!) explaining the terrible psychological damage wrought on a child whose name was the subject of his or her peers’ lampooning; hence the List.

    In my experience as a child (oh yes, my dears, in my life I have had many exotic experiences, some of them unfortunate) ANY name whatsoever can be the subject of lampooning.

    I believe the unfortunate, innocent babies who are the target of such grow up to wreak their vengeance on their peers by becoming State bureaucrats.

  • It would be interesting if people just said “sorry, none of your business… register it as wherever you like, we will just ignore you”

    But that might require them to stop sucking at the state’s teet so I suspect not many people would do that.

  • Nick (nice-guy) Gray

    Japan has a name-list. I remember a newspaper article a while back about a Japanese couple being refused permission to call their son a name that translated as Devil.
    And I think the French have a name-list.

  • David Crawford

    Jaded,

    In east Asia there is a tradition of the twelve year cycle. If you’ve eaten in a Chinese joint in the USA you’ve seen the place mats that show the twelve years and the animal that year is named after (year of the rat, year of the deer, etc.) Well, each of those years also have a list of names associated with that year and that year only. If you are born in 2000, for example, there is a list of names for that year. Because of this it is easy for anyone to figure out which year you were born. The same list of names would be used in 2012, 2000, 1988, 1976, 1964, and so on (and only be used for those years).

    In east Asia authority is heavily dependent on age. If you get a team of 10 workers together, the oldest is assumed to be in charge. Because of the naming convention, it is easy to determine who is oldest.

    (When I lived in South Korea in the late 90’s/early 00’s there was a big debate about parents ignoring the naming conventions.)

  • I don’t believe it either, Nick.

    Lee Moore and Sigivald might be right but I got the impression she was happier about it than that.

    If it was me I would do as Perry suggests. If a customs official asked why my passport said “boy” I would point out the idiocy of my government. Easy to say, of course.

  • Stephen Willmer

    My real name is Pitt Fandango.

  • Old Owl

    Wasn’t there some furore in New Zealand a couple of years ago about twins (?) named Benson and Hedges? I can’t remember whether this was allowed or not. Living in Western Australia (the bogan capital of the western world) we are used to strange names for children … and also extremely strange spellings of common names (Llynder for Linda, for example) . We had a girl with the first name Shaniatwain enrol in school recently …

  • PaulM

    I well remember Richard Digance (A modern entertainer m’Lud) being asked on a TV programme if his name came from French ancestry.
    No he replied I changed in order to get an Equity card (A modern trade union requirement M’Lud.

    Really? said the host what’s your real name then?

    With a very straight face Richard replied “Tex Moonbeam”

  • Andrew Duffin

    I am pretty sure that the kermits also have an approved list of childrens’ name from which one may not deviate.

    No doubt there are exceptions for Muslims…

    There is much wrong with this, but at least you don’t end up with children called Pocahontas McGonagle or Versace McLatchie.

    NB Those are both real examples btw.

  • AndrewWS

    The French certainly do (or did) have a list of permitted names, and it created a great deal of aggro with the Bretons and Basques, as Breton and Basque names weren’t on it.

    Yet another reason to be proud to be British. I once (when staying in a youth hostel in Luxembourg during my gap year) got to know a fellow young Englishman whose surname was Freelove and whose parents had chosen to name him Bold (after the washing powder?), and a friend of mine at school had the middle name of Roebuck.

  • Robert

    Allowing absolutely anything for a name means allowing names it would be cruel to use – Ratface Smith, Sheep**cker Jones, Iluvgordonbrown Bloggs. Statists outlaw such names, and with typical overreach, many others that are not objectional.

    There’s a much better solution. Parents warped enough to give their children such names are pretty rare, but if it does ever happen, nobody else should be obliged to respect their choice of names. The children aren’t the parent’s property, after all. When the child is old enough, they can pick their own name. Until then, everyone around the child can use some name for them they consider reasonable.

  • Jaded Voluntaryist

    I must say I’m surprised by the lukewarm response this post has generated, and the mumblings of broad approval toward the concept that the state should have a say in what you name your child.

    The good old fashioned liberal perspective was always that unless you can actively prove a parent is wantonly neglectful or abusive, then their parenting decisions are none of the state’s damn business. This should apply to names as well as everything else.

    Of course if you really don’t like the name your parents gave you when you are of legal age you should be quite welcome to pick one you do like.

  • PersonFromPorlock

    Jaded Voluntaryist
    February 1, 2013 at 3:21 pm

    Of course if you really don’t like the name your parents gave you when you are of legal age you should be quite welcome to pick one you do like.

    I don’t think I’d particularly have enjoyed being named, say, “Bra” until I was 21.

  • Jaded Voluntaryist

    I don’t think I’d particularly have enjoyed being named, say, “Bra” until I was 21.

    Would you rather be called D-503?

    If you give the state the power to do something, anything, they will do it, mercilessly, until you make the buggers stop.

  • monoi

    I think that it is more a case of not being able to name your child with ridiculous names rather than having to choose from a list in France.

    The latest brouhaha was about some retard calling her son jihad or something.

    As liberal as I am, it does not shock me that much. It is not like I felt any constraints whilst choosing names for my boys (which had to be pronounceable in French, German and English).

    Also, being liberal means that I do not condone aggression on someone, and calling your child something which will make it a victim of psychological anguish is not much different from hitting it over the head for no particular reason. The fact that you are the parent does not mean you can do anything you want to your child.

  • Jaded Voluntaryist

    But monoi, giving the state the authority to decide what is and is not acceptable parenting (outwith the bounds of criminal matters) is a form of violence against many people. Having the state “oversee” your raising of your children induces untold suffering.

    The family is the natural unit of power. They occur spontaneously, contain a natural hierarchy and barring major deviancy tend to be fiercely loyal to one another. The state has always perceived the family as a rival and will do anything it can to undermine it.

    My wife and I conceived our children together. They are made from us. We feed them, clothe them, educate them, play with them. I tell them what to do. If they disobey me, I punish them. When they are good, I reward them. If anyone ever tries to harm them, I will kill them. For all intents and purposes they are mine, but I do not own them the way a plantation owner owned a slave. My children are entrusted to me, and I make decisions on their behalf until they can make them for themselves. A major part of my responsibility as a parent is to bring them to the place that they will make good choices once the choices are theirs to make.

    This is the reality of family life – the fact that it makes people of a particular political persuasion uncomfortable both fascinates and terrifies me.

    The argument that without a government bod looking over my shoulder I might do it wrong really doesn’t hold water for me. Having a government bod looking over my shoulder is the best way to ensure I do it wrong, since such oversight would force adopting the government’s double-plus approved method of parenting – and I can guarantee you that is most definately the wrong way to raise children.

  • Jaded Voluntaryist

    Re-reading my post and for the avoidance of doubt, I should probably clarify that if anyone ever tries to hurt my children I would kill to defend them, rather than suddenly go all Jonestown…..

    I really need an edit function…..

  • Steven

    The good old fashioned liberal perspective was always that unless you can actively prove a parent is wantonly neglectful or abusive, then their parenting decisions are none of the state’s damn business. This should apply to names as well as everything else.

    Just to play Devil’s Advocate…

    Would we agree that depriving a child of any education, (be it public, homeschool, or religious so long as the kid still had the opportunity to read and write) is wantonly neglectful or abusive because the end result is intentionally hamstringing of the child’s opportunities in life? If I go out of my way to never let my kid learn how to read, should the state step in at that point?

    Now what if I’m giving my kid a name that is sure to close those same doors? If I name my kid Optimusprime Jones, he’ll never be taken seriously. Every job application he fills out will be thrown away because the HR gal will think it’s a joke. Are college recruiters going to go after a kid named Optimusprime Jones or will he be shoved aside for someone else whose name they can put in a recruiting brochure? Freakanomics alreay set forth the numbers behind the idea that kids with, let’s say unusual, names end up marginalized compared to kids with normal names.

    If we’re willing to say that “yeah, of course any parent who intentionally deprives his kid of an education should be dealt with. Someone needs to look after the interests of the child if the parents won’t” then why should we look the other way when parents name their children if the end result is the same?

  • Jaded Voluntaryist

    Freakanomics is a literary abomination that draws tenuous connections from unconvincing data and reinforces it with a socio-political ideology rather than hard facts. It had come to be something of a bible for those in favour of big state interventionism.

    Addressing the naming issue, I have a brother in law: his name is Alexander, but no one calls him that. He was named after his father, so for the avoidances of confusion he goes by his middle name.

    Optimusprime Jones could just ask everyone to call him Oscar or similar. Many people do not use their given names.

    And his parents might have had a very good reason for naming his Optimusprime, one which some bloodless bureaucrat in an office somewhere couldn’t even begin to appreciate.

  • RAB

    Well my dad’s names were Augustine Ignatius Saxton… commonly known as humble Gus. He was the last of five children and something of a suprise shall we say. My Grandfather went out and got pissed with his best friend who happened to be a Catholic Priest (we were Protestant) and came back with that mouthful. How he got it past my Grandmother nobody knows.

  • Rich Rostrom

    Jaded Voluntaryist: The argument that without a government bod looking over my shoulder I might do it wrong really doesn’t hold water for me…

    How do you feel about the parents who clearly do it wrong? Among certain ethnic groups that are educationally and literacy challenged, it is commonplace to see children with names that are grotesque misspellings – for example, “Antjuan”, “Antwaan”, and “Antwone”. Less severe misspellings can saddle a child with a lifetime of clerical errors.

    Society has a collective interest in the well-being of children, and it is reasonable for the state, as society’s agent, to oversee an action which can have serious life-long consequences for the child.

  • Jaded Voluntaryist

    Society has a collective interest in the well-being of children, and it is reasonable for the state, as society’s agent, to oversee an action which can have serious life-long consequences for the child

    Bollocks. The state is not society’s agent, it is its own agent.

    If you can police my behaviour for purely subjective offences, then you can police my behaviour for anything. Unless direct harm has to be proven before my liberty can be constrained, then in no way can I be considered free.

    “Think of the children” is one of the most powerful weapons deployed by statists, partly because it is designed to induce intellectual dead ends which collapse all resistance.

  • Indeed JV, I also could not disagree with Rich more strongly.

  • Czech Republic has a list of about 1,000 acceptable names. I remember a friend scoring a double triumph by getting a middle name through (not at all normal here) which was not on the list. Sorry, the finer points were lost on me, but he was so chuffed about it!

  • Less severe misspellings can saddle a child with a lifetime of clerical errors.

    Yes, and so can the way some parents happen to dress their kids, the food they pack for them to take to school, the things they teach them at home about religion and politics – which the kids may then repeat at school and be ridiculed for. Where would you draw the line?

    How do you feel about the parents who clearly do it wrong?

    ‘Clearly’? Clear to whom, exactly? A bureaucrat? A politician? A neighbor? A court of whose peers?

    And yes, I think that parents should be free to deprive their children of education – still less bad than what passes for compulsory “education” these days.

  • Did they go overboard in this case? Probably. There’s no guarantee that a reasonable purpose will yield reasonable processes or results. But the Committee’s existence may not be as gratuitous as you think.

    Every state institution is gratuitous and counter-productive. They are incapable of economic calculation, and have back-assward incentives. I’m not telling anyone here anything new.

  • Rich Rostrom

    Jaded Voluntaryist @February 1, 2013 at 9:05 pm: Bollocks. The state is not society’s agent, it is its own agent.

    Sometimes the state is the agent of a ruling social class consisting solely of members of the state. North Korea, for instance. Or Pharaonic Egypt. Such a state exercises power exclusively in the interests of that ruling class.

    Other states are formed by a larger ruling class, exercise powers delegated by that ruling class, and are answerable to that ruling class. Such a state is the agent of that ruling class, and acts for them, not itself – except as accountability fails. Which it usually does, some of the time. But not all the time.

    This is true even in a representative democracy, where the people are the ruling class, and their control of the state is attenuated by the lags and limits of the electoral process.

    Formally, at least, the state acts as the agent of the people, enacting the will of the people as expressed through elections. Practically, the state often acts as the agent of special interests (which are nonetheless outside the state) or of a self-appointed intellectual elite whose intentions are valued above those of the general public (as in the EU).

    But even so, the state substantially (perhaps mostly) acts as the agent of the people (that is, society), delivering mail, constructing and maintaining streets and highways, arresting and imprisoning criminals, issuing currency, and inspecting food, among other things. Is it doubtful that in these activities, democratic states are, in general, exercising powers formally delegated by the people, as the people generally desire?

    Unaccountable and self-aggrandizing state power, exercised without regard to or even against the general will of society is a real (and currently acute) problem.

    But it does not mean that state power is illegitimate at all times and in all circumstances.

  • Rich Rostrom

    Alisa @February 1, 2013 at 10:48 pm:

    > How do you feel about the parents who clearly do it wrong?

    ‘Clearly’? Clear to whom, exactly? A bureaucrat? A politician? A neighbor? A court of whose peers?

    A non-trivial number of children suffer acute malnutrition or starvation, damaging or lethal beatings, or sexual assault under the “care” of parents. These incidents are rare, compared to the care and devotion which nearly all parents provide their children. But they do happen.

    Who, if anyone, should intervene in such cases? “A bureaucrat? A politician? A neighbor? A court of whose peers?” Or no one?

    The infliction of a misspelled name is a comparatively minor injury. But it is an injury with a very long effect, and it is avoidable by a trivial action, if someone is empowered to act.

    In this case, that someone’s action is officious and gratuitous. But that doesn’t prove that no similar action could ever be appropriate.

  • Julie near Chicago

    Alisa, it’s fortunate for the son that, alas (or not, of course), I’ll never have — I say, it’s fortunate for the son I’ll never have that my daughter already bears the ancient and honorable name which most often leads, as in the present instance, to the nickname “Sue.”

    But she doesn’t have such a nice bass singing voice as Mr. Cash.

    Thanks for the link! ;>)

  • Jamess

    If a child is named a stupid name (Superman readily comes to mind) how often will it be a problem for that child and for how long and, more significantly, how often will that problem come about because of some government created issue?

    If I was called superman it would be a pain up until I left secondary school at which point I could choose to introduce myself as any name I chose – unless of course it was something to do with my passport (government controlled) or anything in which the government has said I have to show ‘valid’ ID.

    And on another point, how often do parents name their children stupid names because they’ve never learnt that actions have consequences?

  • Julie near Chicago

    JV at 2/1, 5:05 p.m.,

    Beautifully and admirably said.

    And at 2/1, 9:05 p.m., you are absolutely positively 100% correct.

    So is Alisa.

    Well said, both of you.

    Alisa, among other things you wrote:

    And yes, I think that parents should be free to deprive their children of education – still less bad than what passes for compulsory “education” these days.

    In my family education (true, not the imitation stuff they throw up today) was a huge Family Value. And so it is with me. And I could not agree more strongly with your words above, and furthermore let me applaud your courage to come right out and say so in public, given today’s PC climate. Thank you.

    Rich: Yes, bad things can happen if the State does not make it its business to keep a 24-hour watch on everyone. Including parents and their interactions with their children–even their well-functioning 45-year-old children, in some cases.

    Have you observed that bad things can happen even if the State IS watching every second of every day?

    Let’s play the odds here. Which, in your experience, is more likely: that the All-Seeing State will, on the average, save more souls than it maims or kills —

    Or the reverse?

    Of course, JV’s word draws attention to the distinction on which the whole question of intervention turns: the word being “subjective.” The question is, according to whose moral sense is the child being abused/victimized/brutalized? And what are the criteria establishing the truth of the claim?

    Where a child is provably subjected to physical abuse–being beaten, or otherwise physically attacked–the parents are guilty of a crime against a human, just as if the child were an adult and a stranger.

    There are cases of psychological maltreatment so extreme as to be pretty clearly beyond the threshold of what should be permitted even to parents — but most of us grow up in situations that are in some way psychologically unhelpful (to say the least), yet humans are pretty tough, and we survive, even with all our scars, and mostly even manage to make pretty good lives for ourselves.

    I fully believe that the most psychologically damaging thing a child in this society (at least) is likely to undergo is the constant feeling of being watched … and judged. And not just that he himself is the subject of constant monitoring with its implied sense of pre-judged disapprobation — but that his family as a whole, and especially his parents, are in the same position.

  • I can tell you one thing, Julie, without going into too much detail here: my child was an awful student, a fact that made me lose much sleep and try all kinds of approaches to put him back on the “right path”. None of it worked, and am I glad now that it didn’t.

    And yes, Johnny was The Man:-)

  • Julie near Chicago

    Without going into too much detail, Alisa: “I can relate.”

    And look–they grew up and don’t even have two heads! :>))

  • Julie near Chicago

    Now, for a name probably not on anybody’s Approved List (well, perhaps except for the Dutch?): Pity the wife of Mr. Frank Robie, who commissioned Frank Lloyd Wright to design Robie House, the Famous Chicago Landmark. Per Wikipedia, her name was Lora Hieronymous Robie. Tsk.

  • Julie near Chicago

    Ooooops. “Hieronymus.” :(

  • Laird

    Yes, Julie, that typo made all the difference!

  • Julie near Chicago

    Laird, I’m dying to know if her folks stuck her with that as a middle name, or if it was her maiden name or a former husband’s. (One can’t help thinking of Theresa Ketchup.) Alas, I suspect this itch of curiosity will forever go unscratched.

  • Ian Bennett

    Rich Rostrom may wish to keep in mind that a state which is empowered to prevent you from naming your child “Gondwana” is similarly empowered to prevent you from naming him “James”.

  • BigFatFlyingBloke

    A proverb about a road, good intentions and hell springs to mind when bringing up such things as naming committees.

  • James Waterton

    As some may know, I live in Vietnam (though not for much longer) and am married to a local (for much longer, I trust). When we had our daughter, I found out that if a child is to receive Vietnamese citizenship, they must have a Vietnamese name somewhere in the mix. First, middle or last name – at least one has to be of Vietnamese origin. Even though we always intended for her to have a Vietnamese name, I remember how infuriating it was to have some bureaucrat tell you what you can and can’t name your child. A friend of mine in a similar situation to myself had to change the name he and his wife were planning to give their daughter because it lacked a Vietnamese name. If he didn’t they would not have been able to register the child as a Vietnamese national, despite the fact she was born in Vietnam to a Vietnamese mother. This to me is deeply, deeply wrong.

    Society has a collective interest in the well-being of children, and it is reasonable for the state, as society’s agent, to oversee an action which can have serious life-long consequences for the child.

    This could be – and of course is – used by any statist to justify any number of government intrusions into family life (not to mention civil society at large). Rich Rostrum, I have no doubt that you are a sincere libertarian/classical liberal/small government type, however I don’t really understand why you are applying the logic of the statist to the very narrow field of naming conventions. It could just as easily be used to prevent things like homeschooling, which I assume you wouldn’t support.

  • monoi

    I had a quick google, and in fact, there is no forbidden list in France.

    That said, the state registrar can refuse a name if he believes it to be detrimental to the well being of the child. His decision is not final however, and it can be appealed to a judge.

    Honestly, and as much as I wish the state to be reduced to the smallest entity possible, it is something I can live with for the reasons I gave.

    Also, I do believe that parents who come up with outlandish names do that for their own selfish reasons (if not utter idiocy), so if there is a small possibility to stop them, I am happy.

    That retard calling her son jihad being a prime example.

    It also appears to me that it does not stop you from calling your child whatever you want, just that it might not be on his official papers (which could be argued are just instruments of coercion created by the state so do not count anyway!).

    My german brother in law (born in 1956) is called Adolf…as it was the name of his godfather. He lived it down pretty well.

  • Jaded Voluntaryist

    Monoi, Jihad is a very common given name in the Islamic world – so why should your Western sensibilities prevent Muslim parents from naming their children whatever they please?

    Would you like it if your children were forced to have Islamic names? So why is the reverse OK?

  • Nick (nice-guy) Gray

    Because Islam Is EVIL!!!!!

  • renminbi

    I have friends who have taught in urban schools here, in the US. Some of the names used by one ethnic group are quite abusive. Two girls named”Female”,one with the accent on the second syllable, and the other, the last. One had a student named Romney (this was years ago)”.Correct” pronunciation was “Roney” she explained since the m was silent. The worst example was “Latrina”. We have here an ethnic culture severely challenged on literacy and common sense.
    I don’t favor name lists,but I can’t see allowing egregious abuse.

  • renminbi

    We have in the US an ethnic group which comes up with odd names for girls. E.g.- two named Female, one with the accent on the second syllable,the other on the last. One Romney (this was years ago) but pronounced “Roney” since “the M is silent”. Best one for abusiveness-“LaTrina”. I don’t think this kind of child abuse should be permitted. People have a right to screw up their own lives but not their children.

  • renminbi

    Sorry for double post-thought I had been smited.

  • Julie near Chicago

    renminbi, the thing is, those names are considered OK by the culture that produces them, and in which their owners are immersed–indeed, they’re liable to be accused of imitating honkies or some such if they have nice American names like “Linda Sue”–and although “Latrina” might be unfortunate to those of us with knowledge of relatively obscure words in English (the military and the camping crowd of course know that one well!), I can see its sense myself: “Trina”–a well-accepted nickname in the larger society, as for instance derived from “Christina.” Now stick a “La” on the front, as in for instance LaToya Jackson. It sounds right! And if “Chumley” is properly spelt “Cholmondely,” why not spell “Roney” (“Ronny”???) as “Romney”?

    Besides, what is stupider than naming your daughter Ashley (or Ashleigh?), Courtney, Shirley, Beverly…all veddy dignified British patronymics, but Americans seem to love doing it! Then there are people who name their daughter “Stanley” … and I b’lieve there’s some actress whose name seems to be “Glenn” ….

    Or, as Alisa pointed out, one might name one’s son “Sue.”

    Well, like you (I suspect) I value the English language and hate to see it bent badly out of shape. But while certain subcultures have irritating naming styles, I have to admit that “Antwone” makes a lot more money than I do…and so does Ms. Jackson, come to that.

    And besides, it’s not the State’s business to dictate righteousness–not even in the matter of naming styles. Cure far worse than disease, so forth. :>))

  • renminbi

    To clear things up about the Females:
    one of them rhymed with Tamale and other sounded like Fem-malay.

  • Brian Micklethwait (London)

    The situation in France is that they used to have an approved name list but they got rid of it. Some time around or just before 2000, I think. I caught the subject being discussed on QI (which is a British telly comedy quizz show).

    The most popular boy’s name in France is now Kevin, not a name on the old list of course. Pronounced Ke-veen. On my last trip to Brittany, where I have friends, I met a Kevin.

  • Brian Micklethwait (London)

    Another point worth making is that it certainly makes a big difference in the online world whether you have a name like Rob Fisher or Michael Jennings, or on the other hand a name like Perry de Havilland or Brian Micklethwait. There being only one each of the latter two persons, but many Michael Jenningses and many Rob Fishers.

    I greatly prefer ego-googling that gets me and me only.

    If I had been born into one of the many Smith or Brown or Jones families, I would appreciate having a strange first name, to separate me from the pack.

  • Laird

    That’s been my experience, Brian.