Category: baby name choice
By Kara Blakley
As an art historian, my friends and family often like to teasingly debate what I consider to be art, and what not. While that is a discussion in its own right, one of my criteria for considering whether something is ‘art’ is if it holds to the standard that it is both of its own time, and transcendent of time.
I think that this guideline translates well in the baby naming world as well. The historian in me is also cautious towards names that will sound dated when the child grows up: it is not difficult to guess in which decade Shirley or Stephanie was born. But on the other hand, so-called timeless names, like William and Elizabeth, can fall flat aesthetically, not speaking to a person’s creative urges. While many parents don’t want to choose a name that sounds or will sound dated, they also want something unique. How does one reconcile these two seemingly contrasting goals?
We were intrigued by the question posed on the forums by jackal, who loves the name Ingimar, well-known in her native Iceland, but wonders whether she should give her son-to-be a name that travels more easily, like Robert or Matthias.
Jackal’s question came down to head vs. heart: Which is the best way, the right way to choose a baby name?
Of course, if your heart and head align in your name decision, that’s the ideal. But often the name we love, the name we want in our gut has some issue: it’s hard to pronounce or it doesn’t work with our surname or our partner doesn’t like it or we fell in love with it long ago but it’s since gotten too popular.
And then our head steps in, proposing the name that flows better, or the name that is immune from teasing, or the name that honors your beloved grandpa even though, ouch, Floyd…
When my husband and I had our first child thirteen years ago, choosing her name was one of the easiest decisions we made. We struggled more with the paint color of her nursery and which diapers we’d go with than her name. I knew that I wanted to use Maura somewhere in there but I wasn’t adamant that it had to be in the first name slot. We casually tossed around a few names that we liked, a couple that we didn’t hate and several that were absolutely off the table.
One day, my husband mentioned Juliet which I knew instantly was going to be our sweet wee girl’s name. Only, I wanted to spell if Juliette as it seemed a bit more feminine and I liked that it was a tad longer next to our short, masculine last name Wood. So that was it. It was very casual and stress-free and done.
I did consider that she may be teased as she grew older about the Romeo and Juliet association, but, really, that seems like a pretty awesome thing to be teased about to me. I can think of about a thousand worse things to be made fun of for… like the guy I went to high school with named Richard Head. When several of the boys in our school realized that Dick is a nickname for Richard…sheesh. I felt awful for him. A name used in a Shakespeare play seemed pretty benign, if not totally cool, to me.
Investors often rely on charts and technical analysis to decide whether to buy or sell a stock. That means they focus less on the fundamental qualities of the company (say, whether sales are growing or it has a good CEO), and instead concentrate on the movements of its share price. If the chart is displaying a certain pattern — one that has been historically shown to foreshadow a rise in value — the investor will buy the stock.
Having spent my career deciphering stock charts as a financial journalist, I suppose it seemed natural to apply the same techniques when coming up with baby names. After all, the popularity of names tends to move in hundred-year cycles, and the same patterns repeat over and over again. That means you can spot a good name based on its chart alone.
We may not control what race or gender we bequeath our offspring (unless, of course, we are utilizing a sperm bank in the Empire State Building for IVF), but we do have say over their names. If you play it safe with Bill or Lisa, it probably means your kids will be marginally more likely to avoid risk, too. If you’re like us and name them E or Yo, they are likely to grow up into weirdoes like their parents—or at least not work in middle management.