Category: bad names
Whose name is worse than mine? Almost no one’s, by my lights. I’ve spent decades looking, and 99 percent of the names I hear are better than my own. Once in a great while, I do come across a name that I actually think is worse, and I view such names with both pity and awe–but more on this later.
What’s so bad about my name? I come by it honorably enough; I was born in Chadera, Israel, where the name Yona was perhaps not so common as the Susans or Debbies that populated my grade school classrooms, but neither was it freakish. Then my parents moved back to the United States and it did not occur to them to Anglicize my name, which was always confused or mangled: Yola, Yoda, Ona and Zona were a few of its many ungainly permutations. And coupled with my unusual last name, Zeldis, made for an even more confused reaction.
When I entered a new school in fourth grade, my teacher looked at the class list and said, “What is Yona Zeldis?” I had to raise my hand and say, “It’s me.” She thought it was a misprint and that it should perhaps have been Zelda Yonis; no such luck though.
That question summoned up an issue that simmers beneath many discussions on names: What’s the image that name conveys, and do we want to take that on for our child?
To put it more plainly, do some names carry stereotypes, positive or negative, that go beyond our individual expectations and experiences? Are you guilty of stereotyping people based on their names, and what names carry the strongest stereotypes for you?
Question of the Week: How much does a person’s name affect your opinion of them?
Do you get a mental image of people before meeting them, setting up positive or negative expectations because they have a name you like–or don’t?? Ever turn down a blind date because of his/her name? Could you imagine yourself married to an Egbert or a Hortense?
On the other hand, does having a beautiful name add something special to a person’s appeal (as it does for me with my British friend Araminta)?
Has knowing a person changed your image of their name?
Do you judge people by what they’ve named their children—even a little bit– and even though you know you shouldn’t?
What do YOU think is the worst name ever, and why? One of my worst-evers is Bertha, maybe because my poor misguided grandmother changed her name to that from the lovely Bridget because of anti-Irish prejudice. And to Linda, almost any sound with the -erv sound is like fingernails on a blackboard.
C’mon. Hit us with your worst shot.
There’s a lively discussion going on over at our message boards on what names have gone out of style and will probably never come back. On the permanent Out List, by consensus, are:
BRUNHILDA (was this ever in, I mean since the 11th century?)
We’re with you so far, name lovers, and can even understand why you disagree on whether some choices belong on the Out-Forever List. One person sees Gertrude as cute, like little Drew Barrymore in ET, while another says it reminds her forever of the word girdle. Myrtle is fresh and flower-like to one visitor, terminally dowdy to another. And Grover is adorable to one message boardie, doomed to Sesame Street purgatory by another.
And Linda! ?! Let’s not even go there.
Here some names that we once declared dead forever (or forever-ish) only to see them rise again.
Are there any besides the ones already identified by the message board devotees that we’d still call as out forever? Gladys. Myrna. Phyllis, Shirley, Wanda. Arnold and Dewey, Egbert and Elmer, Hyman and Melvin. Which I guess pretty much guarantees that they’ll come back into style any day now.