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  1. #61
    Join Date
    Aug 2011
    Location
    London, England
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    609
    Quote Originally Posted by celianne View Post
    Being pretentious is a bad thing by definition. If you want to change the connotation, you need a new word.

    I simply don't find it at all pretentious, unless the parents care more about their image than their child, in which case they have bigger problems. Naming a child DRIECTLY after the person you WANT to name them after isn't pretentious by itself, as can be seen by the favorable reactions to others' use of family names, nature names, and names with generally good meanings. The argument seems to be that using literature or culture specifically as your source/reason is pretentious.

    And I can see it in this sense: You have likely never met this person, this author, and there is no way you have met their characters. You are choosing a name based on something that is inherently indirect, and could easily be wrongly perceived. Because you don't know this author, you don't really know who you are naming your child after. You are naturally ill-informed. The assumption made is that you DO know what you're doing when you name your child, because you know this author through their books and you admire their characters who don't exist. But you don't. It's a fact more than an opinion; you may feel like you know them, but it simply isn't the case.

    What's pretentious is saying 'yes, I named my child after someone reputable and wonderful' when most writers are quite the opposite. This is what would bother me.

    But using a name because you love it, and you love what it says about your family, and you love where it came from, is not pretentious. That's normal.
    If you think pretentious necessarily has a bad connotation (though I googled just to check, and it's definitely not intrinsically negative) then perhaps ostentatious is a better word? Like other posters, it just seems a little 'showy' to me to use a name like Bronte or Salinger that is so overtly linked to literature. If it helps, I feel similarly about obvious nature names like Rain or religious names like Magdalena or Faith (though they're pretty!). Virtue names that are still used as everyday words, like Charity or Chastity, are also not a great idea for first names either, in my opinion. I put family names in a different category, because that's not an association most people will know about immediately. But, as I said, obvious associations aren't such a bad thing at all, it's just too unsubtle for my tastes &, in very few cases, it makes me think it could be a bit of a burden for a child. My guilty pleasure list is full of names I'd love to use but feel like they're too strongly associated with something/someone (basically, names that will prompt a lot of questions). I suppose what makes me think a name seems 'pretentious' (/ostentious/showy/unsubtle) is when a name has a super strong, virtually exclusive, association (which may be hard for the child to live with). Names like Bronte or Salinger could be wonderful in the middle though, I love an ostentatious middle!

    Quote Originally Posted by daisy451 View Post
    There's something about names that are inexorably tied to literature that make them different for me (Lewis and Edmund are not that closely tied to the Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe- I'm talking more names like Gulliver and Bronte.) I get that parents pick them because they like them, because they're meaningful to those parents. But with these names, for me, it goes beyond style- it's like the difference between wearing a nice dress and heels because you like them and wearing head-to-toe Prada and Versace into a working-class neighborhood because you like them. Yes, you may genuinely like those things, and there's nothing wrong with that. It's just that there's something I find uncomfortable about them, like a proclamation of status that comes along with that particular taste. That's why I don't wear those brands and also why I'm hesitant to use those names, even though I love them.

    I want to stress again that I have nothing against parents who use these names- I don't mean to call them pretentious or elitist, and I completely understand that there are a great many excellent reasons to use very literary names. I'm simply trying to make the point that I personally would feel uncomfortable actually using the non-subtle literary names that are among my favorite names because I would feel as if I'm "showing off" to an extent.
    Completely agree with this.

    Annora Juliet, Elspeth, Verity, Zelda, Josephine, Marianne, Rosemary Constance
    Edmund Henry, Wesley, Jonah, Gilbert, August, Winston, Hugh Theodore

  2. #63
    Join Date
    Apr 2013
    Posts
    877
    Quote Originally Posted by caroline147 View Post
    If you think pretentious necessarily has a bad connotation (though I googled just to check, and it's definitely not intrinsically negative) then perhaps ostentatious is a better word? Like other posters, it just seems a little 'showy' to me to use a name like Bronte or Salinger that is so overtly linked to literature. If it helps, I feel similarly about obvious nature names like Rain or religious names like Magdalena or Faith (though they're pretty!). Virtue names that are still used as everyday words, like Charity or Chastity, are also not a great idea for first names either, in my opinion. I put family names in a different category, because that's not an association most people will know about immediately. But, as I said, obvious associations aren't such a bad thing at all, it's just too unsubtle for my tastes &, in very few cases, it makes me think it could be a bit of a burden for a child. My guilty pleasure list is full of names I'd love to use but feel like they're too strongly associated with something/someone (basically, names that will prompt a lot of questions). I suppose what makes me think a name seems 'pretentious' (/ostentious/showy/unsubtle) is when a name has a super strong, virtually exclusive, association (which may be hard for the child to live with). Names like Bronte or Salinger could be wonderful in the middle though, I love an ostentatious middle!
    Ostentatious is a MUCH better word. Definitely. And connotation/definition are like opposites, so my wording was bad there, but the majority of people would consider pretentious a bad thing (as exemplified by this thread).

    I like ostentatious! I'd rather use names that are like BOOM. POINT MADE. As opposed to a nice series of twenty questions with people for them to figure out your hidden naming inspiration. If you love Jane Austen, name your kid Austen, because otherwise you'll HAVE to explain all the time that no, your Jane wasn't named after Jane Doe. I like simplicity and clarity.
    I'm not feeling incredibly profound at the moment. Check back later.

  3. #65
    Join Date
    Aug 2012
    Posts
    1,405
    I've never really looked at it that way. When I think of it, I would use a literary name because of what the character meant to me. I would assume that's why other people used it too.

  4. #67
    Join Date
    Nov 2009
    Location
    Pacific Northwest
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    311

    Intention

    Quote Originally Posted by redwoodfey View Post

    Having an opinion is a lovely thing. But ask yourself where this opinion (especially if it's an opinion of judgement) is coming from. In my experience, they come from insecurities deep within ourselves and those are good things to be open with ourselves about so we can be a better person. We're all a work in progress.
    ^ Agreed!

    So there seems to be a few strong opinions:

    A: Parent reads a book, names child literary name = ostentatious
    B: Parent doesn't read a book, names a child literary name =ostentatious
    C: Parent reads a book, has a deep association (which they may or may have not been shared), names child a literary name = not ostentatious/ostentatious

    Who then are the "naming police" determining what is ostentatious? Like Freakanomics pointed out; there is a larger social-economic underpinning with names. So are you ostentatious then if you are poor, and less educated and you name your child Gatsby because of the newly released movie, and haven't read the book? Jay Gatsby is not a stand up character, but am I to judge these parents for not picking the "right type" of literary name?
    No Reserves. No Retreats. No Regrets.

  5. #69
    Join Date
    Jun 2010
    Posts
    2,356
    Quote Originally Posted by daisy451 View Post
    I get that parents pick them because they like them, because they're meaningful to those parents. But with these names, for me, it goes beyond style- it's like the difference between wearing a nice dress and heels because you like them and wearing head-to-toe Prada and Versace into a working-class neighborhood because you like them. Yes, you may genuinely like those things, and there's nothing wrong with that. It's just that there's something I find uncomfortable about them, like a proclamation of status that comes along with that particular taste. That's why I don't wear those brands and also why I'm hesitant to use those names, even though I love them.

    I want to stress again that I have nothing against parents who use these names- I don't mean to call them pretentious or elitist, and I completely understand that there are a great many excellent reasons to use very literary names. I'm simply trying to make the point that I personally would feel uncomfortable actually using the non-subtle literary names that are among my favorite names because I would feel as if I'm "showing off" to an extent.
    @withinreason and redwoodfey I'm quoting myself here, but this post is getting so long it's getting lost. I want to stress again that this is not in any way a judgment on the parents. It's an opinion on the name itself, just like if I said I dislike the name Nevaeh because it's unappealing/tacky/trendy/ugly/other arbitrary reason. It is different from saying I dislike people who use the name. I think it's reasonable for someone to dislike a name for whatever reason without being the "naming police." I'm just saying I find the names themselves ostentatious so I would be hesitant to use them, even though I like them.


    And the thing about poor parents naming their children these literary names- I've not seen it happen. I bounce between areas of different socioeconomic classes, and the trends in naming are VERY distinct, and it's not the poor parents with kids named Salinger. My point is not to judge parents who pick these names: as I've said, I like many of these names quite a bit and I completely understand why someone would pick them. However, I personally am uncomfortable choosing a name that automatically reveals my privilege. My objective in asking the question was to see whether I am the only one who feels that way (which appears not to be the case.)

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