Category: invented baby names
With names, as with other subjects, once I learned my assumptions were wrong, I was put in my place.
Pre-kids, I was a name-snob who openly expressed disdain for invented names, grouping all invented names with experimental spellings, and modern word-play creations such as Abcde (ab-si-dee) and La-A (la-dash-ah).
And then shortly after my daughter was born, I discovered I had unintentionally given her an invented name.
No, I didn’t invent the name. The name was invented by an author, and they seem to have a knack for inventing great names. One author known as a master-namer is Shakespeare.
Even if you haven’t read the books, you’ve probably heard of The Hunger Games. The trilogy has topped the bestseller lists, and buzz about the upcoming movie adaptation has been constant for the past few months.
It is the tale of a girl from the wrong side of the tracks who overthrows a cruel and despotic government. Katniss Everdeen becomes the unlikely heroine after she is chosen to fight to the death in a televised game controlled by the all-powerful Capitol. It’s part Greek myth, part reality TV.
Author Suzanne Collins is quite the storyteller, and she’s a masterful namer of characters. Katniss sounds like a smoosh of classics like Katherine and Frances, but the name is borrowed from an edible aquatic plant. Sagittaria, the plant’s Latin name, comes from its arrow-shaped leaves. And wouldn’t you know it? Katniss saves the day through her extraordinary skill with a bow and arrow.
Even if you’re not into sci fi, the series is worth a read for the names alone. In Collins’ post-apocalyptic future, some familiar choices have endured, while other names have been sourced from the past. Many are new, drawn from the changed world in which her characters live. Each of the outlying Districts has a certain specific style.
This list includes minor characters and villains, and they range from the perfectly wearable to the truly out-there.
FELLOW CONTESTANTS & PAST CHAMPIONS
Cato – A willing contestant, from wealthy District 2. In the more affluent Districts, children often train for the Games, hoping for a chance to win riches and glory.
The Week in Review: February 8 – 14, 2011
Instead, thanks to a comment on my blog, I’m thinking about the ugly arguments about baby names of recent coinage. The tension at Appellation Mountain erupted over a respelling of the rapidly-rising Lorelei. Lorelei seems like the new Mackenzie, subject to endless variations. I spotted Laurelea earlier this week, and now a mom mentioned using Laurelie – “anyone have a problem with that?”
Over at Baby Names Garden, Neil Street summed up H.L. Mencken’s 1919 comments on unusual baby names, just as common in the early 20th century as they are today. From Hoke to Maybeth, it is a nice reminder that making up new names is, well, nothing new.
Last month, Laura Wattenberg wrote about the frustration parents feel when the name they’ve “invented” is suddenly popping up everywhere. This week, she followed up with some thoughts on authors’ invented names, from Neil Gaiman’s typo that created Coraline to Anne Rice’s misunderstanding that led to Lestat.
Since rumor has it that Javier Bardem and Penelope Cruz have chosen Leo as their son’s name, we were treated to a few articles like this one at The Stir, declaring the end of outlandish celeb baby names. The article cited a bunch of recent starbaby birth announcements: Cynthia Nixon and Christine Marinoni’s Max Ellington and Olivia Jane, a daughter for Colin Hanks and Samantha Bryantl.
Guest blogger Sachiko, an LDS church member and mother of going-on-seven children, enlightens us on the ins and outs of the strange baby naming practices of the state of Utah.
If you’re familiar with Utah baby naming, you know what I’m talking about.
If you aren’t, then here’s a link to the Utah Baby Namer. I recommend you click on “The Cream of the Crop.” I know you’re busy. You only need to read a few.
No, really. Go on. I’ll still be here when you get back.
Do you see what some of the laughing is about?
Some of the subsets of Utah names, and what makes them seem so ridiculous to outsiders:
Scriptural Names — This one’s a no-brainer. Utah culture is not always the same as, but is connected to, LDS church history.
Like other religiously informed baby namers, Utah and LDS people view books of Holy Writ as prime baby naming material.
Unlike other religiously informed baby namers, Utah and LDS people have scriptures other religions don’t have, most notably the Book of Mormon. Which means names you probably haven’t heard before, unless you’re familiar with Semetic and Egyptian names from the ancient world such as Nephi, Moroni, Mahonri, or Moriancumr.
Is Everybody Here Named Smith, Kimball or Young? Most of the early converts to the LDS church were from the British Isles. Add that to a few decades of polygamy, and you end up with huge amounts of descendents with the same English last name.
This can help explain why Utah baby namers sometimes choose wildly divergent names: to differentiate themselves from all the siblings, cousins, neighbors and strangers with the same last name. This is also where Utahns get historical names like Brigham, Parley and Heber.