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  1. #27
    Join Date
    Aug 2011
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    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

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